Say hello to baby Jax – isn’t she a cutie? Anyone with a Hispanic mom knows that the frillier the dress and the bigger the bow, the better. I was like a Colombian Honey Boo-Boo. I assumed that this picture was taken on a birthday of mine, but my mother isn’t quite sure. She’s also not sure how old I was, she’s guessing three. Like her, I do not remember a thing about the day this picture was taken, or much about my life during that time. I always joke that I had a “deprived” childhood. I wasn’t much of a kid. I never broke a bone. I was never the first kid to come up with a mischievous idea. I wasn’t loud and I hated getting dirty (still do). My idea of a fun time was reading (duh!). I always thought my childhood hadn’t been all that fun.
But perhaps I was wrong. Because look at that smile. Despite the super tight scrunchie pulling at the corner of my eyes and the uncomfortable dress, I was quite happy about something. Had someone said a joke at the precise moment that the picture was taken? Had I stuck my fingers in the cake? Was my sister tickling me as she sat behind me? I have no idea, but I do know that now, as I sit here and anticipate my fast-approaching twenty-sixth birthday, I am incredibly envious of the smiling, pageant-ready, three-year-old Jax. Right now, I’d give anything to be her, at that very moment of absolute glee and ignorance.
It’s beautiful being a child, is it not? Once you know what it’s like to use rationale and thinking it may sound weird to want to regress back to a state of complete oblivion. But think about it. You don’t know envy, hate, prejudice, heartbreak, failure. You don’t recognize color of skin, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. The worst part of your day is when someone takes your lollipop. You think you’re rich with Monopoly money. You scream “I hate you!” to your best friend on the seesaw but you don’t even know what that means so you make up by the time you get to the swings. You’re sure the fluttering in your belly means you will marry the boy who shares his big box of crayons with you during art time. Everyone is a hero in your eyes and you believe you can grow up and be anything you want to be. You think you know it all, but in fact you know nothing at all! You hate the fact that there are just three lame candles on your cake instead of a blaze of lit candles. The more wax spilling all over the place, the better, you assume. But as I reflect on the past year, I would give anything to have only a few candles on my birthday cake. The less candles, the more innocence and freedom of mind and soul and life. The less candles, the grander the wish when you blow them out.
And maybe that’s why little Jax is smiling back at me like that. Cause little Jax has something older Jax lost quite some time ago.