It is not pretty.
It transforms cute, little faces into disproportionate shadows of their former sweet visage.
It can wreak havoc on the cutest of countenance, and in some, it is just flat unattractive.
And “it” has a name: ADOLESCENCE.
When I was growing up, even the name was ugly – they called it “the awkward age.”
Even worse – in my day, the adults were never shy about telling you when you were there.
I’ll never forget visiting my grandmother, aunt and cousins out of state. They fawned over my older brother, “Hasn’t he grown into such a handsome young man!” Then, with that “Tsk, tsk, what a shame” look on their faces, looking right at me – yet, speaking of me in the third person… they would say, “And Nancy… she’s at the awkward age…”
Hard to believe in this day and age when a child’s self esteem is what it’ all about, that adults used to say unflattering things about children right in front of them – yet, speaking in the third person.
But, it’s true.
Trust me – it is true.
These days, if a child calls another child a name, it’s “bullying.”
If name-calling is bullying, then some of the wost offenders used to be the “grownups.”
Seriously, I don’t think they meant to be insulting. It was just – well, definitely a very time. It was long before there was the term – or even the concept of “self esteem.” Apparently, there were also no euphemisms. People just “called ‘em like they saw ‘em.”
It didn’t matter what a child’s given name was, they were often labeled with some physical characteristic.
Do any of these ring a bell?
And of course, there were the other less-than-flattering terms specifically addressing size, like squirt, shrimp, chubby, and fatso. Only occasionally would a more compassionate adult soften the blow with adjectives like “stout” or “big-boned.”
Today, you would never hear a reasonable adult call a child something like that. In fact, we are so hyper-focused on children having self esteem, we often reward them for everything they do. Just waking up in the morning is applauded as an accomplishment – “Jason, you woke up on your own today – GOOD JOB!
Oops. I have characteristically digressed (again).
Back to adolescence.
It does ravage even the sweetest, most beautiful faces.
It is a horrible trick nature plays on budding humans. The nose and feet suddenly sprout, as if doused with a mega-dose of Miracle-Gro – and the poor, unsuspecting victim just has to wait until his/her face and body can catch up with the nose and feet.
In 7th grade, when I had my annual height/weight check by the school nurse. She actually exclaimed, “Nancy – you weigh more than I do!” Thinking back on that, it’s hard to believe a professional – a health professional – working with young children – would say such an insensitive thing to a child at that age when body image is so important Yet, in those days, it was just not that uncommon.
The only information offered about that difficult phase of our lives was when they separated the boys and girls for visits to the film room, to view a film about some expected changes to our bodies. Unfortunately, we were not told that the hideous physical effects would go away within a year or so, and we little ugly ducklings would soon be swans again.
As much as I hate aging, I would never want to re-live adolescence.