Social guidelines continue to direct the actions of society, but what happens when those social guidelines begin to blur? In some cases, often with children, those guidelines completely cease to exist.
Three year old Christina was enjoying her time in the toddler class one day when she stopped what she was doing and announced, for all to hear, that she needed to change her pants. No embarrassed whispers, no quiet nods to step to the side and discuss, she simply blurted out that she needed to go to the donation room. “I knew I had to go potty,” she explained, “but I just didn’t get there fast enough.” She said this as she shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “I have no idea, but that’s what happened!”
Social guidelines stipulate that one should be embarrassed by such an occurrence. Social guidelines hint that, perhaps, one should exit quietly to take care of the situation in private. Christina was unaware of any such guidelines and walked proudly toward the donation room in search of clean pants. As she stood patiently waiting for the aforementioned pants to appear, I noticed her wardrobe: tiny plastic princess shoes with gaudy feathery buckles, a cowboy vest featuring a bucking bronco on the back, and a red plastic fireman’s hat perched atop her head. I watched as she tapped her little plastic shoe impatiently, waiting for the dry pants to appear and, no doubt, complete her outfit. I assumed she wouldn’t be choosy, given the interesting attire she was sporting, but who could tell? Clearly this young lady wasn’t restricted by social guidelines in any way, choosing instead to dress for her many moods.
An impossibly tiny pair of underpants appeared, and a soft gray pair of leggings with pink ruffles at the hem. She was delighted, but I truly believe that she would happily sport whatever we provided; perhaps leather chaps, a tulle skirt, or a diver’s wet suit. She seemed confident in all her choices so far and secure in the knowledge that, in case of an accident, someone would step in and help.
I admire Christina. As adults, if more of us adopted her attitude I think the world would be a happier place. So what if your socks don’t match? They feel good! Do you feel like wearing rubber galoshes to work? Go for it! Plaids and strips together? Brilliant! If life can be seen through the eyes of a child, why not take it a step further and learn from them as to what truly matters? You had a little accident, so what? It happens. Own it, move forward, and shrug your shoulders as if to say, “I have no idea, but that’s what happened!”