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“I Feel Smaller Than I Think”
Kid looks in mirror, feels like she should be taller
Strangely enough, I remember this feeling from when I was small—smaller, even, than I felt I ought to have been at the time. We never quite feel like the person we see in the mirror, which leads me to wonder who we think we are, and where that person comes from.
Lately, I look in the mirror and feel somewhat older than I ought to be—which has been an ongoing process, obviously, in ways that are different than simply being shorter than you might expect. I suspect my assumption about how old I am is shifting about as quickly as the person looking back at me (and out at all of you), but that’s likely a process of continual begrudging acceptance. I’m not thirty anymore, and I’m very quickly realizing that I’m not forty anymore, and that line of reasoning becomes increasingly untenable as a human being, and so I just don’t spend much time with mirrors.
So, who is this person who isn’t reflected in the mirror?
For Kina, I think, that person is taller (obvs) but probably also blonde? I have decided not to mess with that, because she hasn’t made a big deal of it. She acknowledges proudly that she is six, which must be nice in ways I think she doesn’t yet understand. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s much to Kina’s self-image that isn’t showing up for her. I’d like to keep it that way. I am probably being naïve and unrealistic, but that is where I shine, so.
For me, the person who isn’t in the mirror—my own self-image—has his god-given front teeth, a slightly less droopy left eye, hands with fewer… ridges, and—if we are being honest—a little less self-confidence. The mirror puts on a good show in that regard. The mirror dad is content.
I actually am fond of this idea that the person in the mirror really likes himself, if only because I want one of the two of us to be the kind of person from whom Kina inherits her boundless self-confidence. He probably has a good view of things from his side, looking back at my imagined self-image, and it’s probably why he’s so psyched. Look at all that hair, dude! He has no idea.
Like him, the Kina in the mirror looks back with equal fondness on her counterpart. Both of them know who they are and what they want. They are both very happy with the way they’re dressed and how their skirt looks when they spin. There is no Other Kina with whom Kina appears to be wrestling as she looks at herself in the mirror; it’s just that one of them thinks the other ought to be a bit taller, and then everything would be perfect.
That dissonance is sweet today, and ephemeral. But the harmony is there, and the two Kinas—mirror Kina and the Kina within make for a good team. They speak often, and lovingly, and in hushed tones, whenever she puts her hair up in the mornings. They are best friends. You can tell because of all the little handprints on my mirrors.