So many people lose identity with themselves, so many presumed-single-personality people go through life, never changing so drastically they can't recognize themselves from one day to the next, from one week to the next, but over the months and years, the tiny changes creep together so that if you told them something they'd said ten years ago, they'd recoil in horror, because that was a different person who said that. But yet, where are the changes?
There are some people who can't remember kid-logic, some people who look back at their childhood and see things inevitably through their adult eyes. It's so hard not to, unless you lovingly preserve those memories, and even then, they can become worn from too much use and re-analysis... What's often needed is some sort of jolt, as from seeing an old toy for the first time in a long time, seeing some childhood sights that have become unfamiliar, something to joggle the old memories.
One of the things that I have found most excellent for this is my journal. I write it, as I am, and more than just the words are preserved. Often, in the word choice, in the handwriting if it's an image as well as text-only, my mental state, my thought process, is saved.
I did this consciously, in my teenage years. Sometimes I wrote in what I fondly believed to be transparently opaque code -- saying what I truly meant in words that only I would understand, that would be taken as something else or complete gibberish by someone who read it. Most of it was layered with Bujold and Heinlein references, with keywords that only someone who's read the books should trigger the right memory cascades. In practice, it was mostly highly angstful gibberish, but when I wrote it, I really was feeling that bad, that panicked, that sheerly dramatic. Was the world really going to end if anyone found out what my paranoia about good ol' Shawn was? No, but I certainly thought it would.
A lot of that good old-fashioned teenage angst was fear of the unknown, I discovered (after the fact). Fear of the Other. And, eventually, I realized that the spear in His heart was the spear in my own.
But back to the parenting thing. You see, because I can remember myself at ten, it's easier for me to look back and remember myself younger. I remember that my logic was not so flexible, that it's been only recently that I've learned to bend and give and acknowledge when someone else was right and admit I was wrong and so forth. I remember being frustrated about stuff that I find really easy now. I remember being in tears because I was so angry, or because I didn't know how to ask a question.
Most of all, though, I remember that I was a person, and I can relate to people. Az Malfoy writes here, warning for the sensitive: entry does discuss porn
How could I forget Summerhill by A.S. Neill??? This book was written in the 50's and was popular in the 60's. One of my gifted-program teachers recommended it to me when I was 8 and I checked it out at once and read it voraciously. My mother wants to burn her at the stake for it still. I wore out 3 copies. Summerhill is the true story of a school, the Summerhill School in England, which was founded on the notion that Children Are People, and that while adults must occasionally interfere in their lives for their safety, they are generally capable of governing themselves and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with their brains. That they are entitled to their likes and dislikes and to choices about how they spend their time.
This book quite potentially DID save my life. Because it let me know that there were other grownups who thought I was a real person, and that my peculiarities were not to be trained out of me. I'm not so fond of Freud as is Neill, and my feelings about homosexuality are not his, but really, this book was radical for its time and its primary thesis, which is that children are people and have the right to think, read, and live as they please and that adults are there to take care of them, not to recreate them, is still radical.
PeTA is full of shite when they say that animals are the last oppressed group in the world. Children, and especially teenagers, are regarded by even the most enlightened societies as a form of property--luxuries for the rich and manpower by the poor. Ageism is prevalent everywhere, even in fandom which is so accepting of racial, sexual, and ability differences. (I know people who will not join lists where teenagers are allowed even if the list is not devoted to erotica, just because they think kids are stupid. It appalls me.
I've got to read that book. That passage is why I'm writing this entry. I remember that I've always been a person, no matter which person I was. I've been so many people at the same time that having been a different person does not bother me. I don't have to reconcile who I was with who I am now, so much, nor make excuses for my past actions that would appall me now. I'm not her. I'm connected to her, see, and those are the events that changed her into me, those are the decision points, the experiences, but I'm not her. We have the same past, the same base memories, but we're different people. And I remember being those people. I have the words that prove I was those people. I can see into their heads, because the words paint the memories again.
I was lying on the cot at Grandma's in the spare room, wearing a pale blue nylon nightie with lace in the front. The lace was starting to come off. The cot was creaky. swallowtayle was doubtless trying to be cool, and doubtless succeeding at being obnoxious. There were all sorts of things in that room, all sorts of clutter. Do you remember the little tan suitcase? That one was mine. I had my plush halibut for a pillow, and my little cat, and my diary with the pink marker that I won in the choir drawing. That was me. Different girl, different personality suite, only Joan and Joanie, then, and Joni, but still me. And I'm not her now.
I've got the experience of being a kid, and the experience of being an adult, and many of the stages in between. I remember the thoughts, because the words are there to help me remember...