I envy the mask-less innocence of children. They are not burdened like us with the social requirements of life. When children put on masks, it is because they are playing. They adore masks. Perhaps because they see they can transform if they have a mask. When my daughter plays “doctor”, she puts on a surgical mask, a white T-shirt belonging to someone of the adults in the house. And she is instantly converted into the serious specialist who can cure us. Her face mimics change, her body language changes.
When it is time for Halloween, she makes herself a scary mask. Last year the domino was in the shape of a bat. She painted the bat black and holding her breath, she put the mask on. She became a bat. She ran around the house flapping her wings, sorry – hands, and even tried to sleep like real bats do – upside down. She gave up on the sleeping part but still remained a bat for several days / nights.
When the carnival time comes, we have a princess or an ice queen at home. The Queen wears a long queenly dress, has a tiara in her hair and speaks regally. My daughter, the Queen, sits properly, eats like a noble person and acts like one.
In between holidays, my daughter is herself. She doesn’t need a mask. She often wonders why we, the grown ups, are so different depending on the situation and depending on whom we are talking. She doesn’t understand the need for social masks imposed by the society. My daughter doesn’t understand yet why she cannot say out loud that the cookies she had been given taste awful. She doesn’t understand yet why she cannot tell the person who hugs her she doesn’t like him / her. She doesn’t understand yet why she cannot tell someone that the dress doesn’t suit that person.
My daughter gladly wears masks. She even makes them by herself in her kindergarten. She begins to understand the importance of masks in our lives. And I observe this development process with concern. I would like that she grows up without the need of masks. I want her to be herself. But I know this is impossible.
Sometimes when I am with my daughter, I pick up my courage and take off all masks. I become the introvert that I am. We hopefully and proudly go out hand in hand. And the society crushes me. It accepts the identity of my daughter with the excuse : ” She is just a kid.” My identity though doesn’t fall in any excusable category. People are so used to see masks that they don’t recognize anymore when the person they are talking to doesn’t wear one. For some people I become “the haughty person”, for others – ” the unfriendly lady”, “the anti-social person”, “the unwanted person”…
I envy the mask-less innocence of the childhood. Why don’t you take off all your masks and become the child even if it is only for a short while?