Chapter two of Alice in Wonderland is all about growing pains and consequences. It reminds me of the awkward stage of childhood and when you’re too big to be little but too little to be big.
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). “Now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Goodbye feet!”
Growing up can be so confusing. You’re expected to act your age, but the rules are always changing. Adults tell you you’re too old to do many of the things you like doing and then they tell you you’re too young to do what you’d like to try doing.
“Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? . . . Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” And she began thinking over all the children she knew that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.
I remember babysitting once when I was 12 and I remember thinking I was all grown up, but I still wanted to play with the kids I was babysitting. We were playing a game and I had to keep fighting the impulse to get upset that one of the kids was cheating. I wanted to tattle on him! But there was no one to tattle to – I was the “adult” in the situation. But I felt the feelings of a “child.” And it was a very confusing moment when I realized I didn’t quite belong to either category.
Poor Alice! It was as much as she could do, lying down on one side, to look through into the garden with one eye; but to get through was more hopeless than ever she sat down and began to cry again.
Crying was one of the weirdest emotions I remember trying to resist all my life. It seems like when you’re little, you can cry as much as you want and there’s always someone there to comfort you. But as you get older, crying becomes shameful. Something only babies do. So it becomes something you feel stupid for doing. But something that often seems out of your control, especially if you’re a girl.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” said Alice. “a great girl like you,” (she might well say this), “to go on crying this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!” But she went on all the same, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her, about four inches deep and reaching half down the hall.
Growing up with 4 older brothers, crying was something I did a lot, but also something I tried to do privately so I wouldn’t get harassed even more. But sometimes public crying can’t be helped. I’ve cried in speeches to a congregation, in front of a group voice class because I was scared, in front of my boss, in work meetings, oh it’s the worst! Those damn tears, they just sneak up on you and you can’t stop!
“I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!
And such is life.