Saturday, May 19, 2007

Try it on.........

Canadian Icon Mr. Dress Up
circa early 60's

This is the man who introduced all Canadian kids to the tickle trunk. Mr. Dress-Up and his pals Casey and Finnegan entertained generations of children every morning for years by encouraging kids to pretend and to use their imaginations. His famous tickle trunk was filled with fancy costumes and uniforms along with wands and masks, and swords and for glamour, and shoes for working. His simple successful messages of community and belonging were rolled into his interactions with his buddies and his interactions with the kids sitting in their living rooms.

You can be anything you want to be.

You can do anything you set your heart and mind to.

Try it out

Test the waters

Wear the mask

See if it fits..............juuuuussssstttttt right.

And if it doesn't try another and another and another.........

Social learning, where kids of all ages (including us) acquire knowledge of how to act in a situation or how it feels to be in a situation is an enormously important component of child development. Social learning, through imitation is a chance to not only walk a mile in someone else's shoes, but to understand the way of the world.

Watch a 3 year old play. Uninhibited, stream of words billow forth while the focused little one interacts in her environment. Chances are, you'll see bits of siblings, snippets of grandparents, slices of the important people in their lives mixed into their actions, their reactions, and their words...... They are learning through imitation. Open ended play, using stuff out of the tickle trunk to test the waters and to learn how to be. The more the child's living environment is enriched with opportunities and stimulation the more enhanced the social learning will be.

Observe (without them knowing!!) a group of 8 year old boys play on the playground during recess. Very quickly teams are sorted out for whatever game is hot right then. Comfortable in their roles in their teams, they will assume names of famous sports players, will mimic commentators, set rules and boundaries perhaps like their phys ed teacher...... you can see how they are learning big lessons on the playground.....of what works and what doesn't.

School age kids.........playing house, playing teacher........ building sandcastles, spending the day in a fort, going on a lion hunt......."I'm not afraid....." Its all about trying on a different mask, to see what it's like.

Observe the bully too.......she is the one wearing a mask shrouded in puffed up bravado. Her mask allows her to act out before someone hurts her first. Her mask protects her just like the mask of a goalie. But underneath hers is a wounded little girl who has learned to act out in a bullying way most likely from an important person in her life. Eventually the bully, if she isn't helped to take off this particular mask, will end up all alone with on one to help her learn new ways.

Head over to the Mall on a Saturday afternoon.... See the group of 13 year olds swarming around the front of the arcade? They seem to be dressed the same way.......from the tips of their spiky straight hair down to their shoes. Some let their hair hang in front of their face to hide their insecurities. Some huddle closer together to talk........all standing in the same pose. Bizarre.....they all seem to look like Avril Lavigne.

Check out the boys too.......desperately trying to look cool, wanting to fit in. Some are wearing chains dangling in a loop down their thighs. Bangs hanging in the eyes......scraggly, dishevelled goth wannabes scuffing about while talking in the same intonation.

We are profoundly influenced throughout our lives by the people we encounter. Everything from our interest in different hobbies to the style of dress we eventually choose to wear to the careers we decide upon. We test the waters, try on a few different outfits from the tickle trunk and find out which is the best fit.

Somewhere along the line, we cross it...........and discover our own uniqueness. We find comfort in ourselves, in who we are. This happens at different times for different people. And sometimes, it doesn't happen ever. Have you ever met someone who seemed to be uncomfortable in their own skin? Self conscious to a point where they stammer and struggle trying to find their own voice, they never seem to be able to relax enough to just be accept who they are. More often than not however, we all eventually cross that line.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that remained from our learning along the way but it becomes consciously wrapped and woven into our own colourful entity complete with our values and beliefs, our tolerances and intolerances. As adults, we don't tend to wear masks in the same way as children and adolescents do. We tend to wear them to hide from the truth or as a means to shore up our bravado in order to act out. Our masks may cup our darkest secrets. They cover our vulnerable scars or something we feel shameful about. Masks allow us to disconnect with reality, even if it is just for a short escape in order to flirt with fantasy. A recreation of self, a chance to try on something different, to test the waters.....

You can be anything you want to be.......

Test the waters.....

Try it on.......

Go on..............see what fun lies in the tickle trunk.

For more on Masks, check out Sunday Scribblings this's the link........


Shaz said...

Dana I loved this I often wear a mask not to decieve but to please. It can work in my favour and also against but either way I loved this observation.
That was me who left the comment under my sisters blog name by accident. so again have a great weekend she was happy with the visits. xx

Rob Kistner said...

I really enjoyed reading your post.

Mr. Dress Up and the Tickle Trunk, Uncle Al and Captain Wendy, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans, Kukla Fran and Ollie, Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, Mr. Rogers and his Neighbor... food for thought.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

I guess we all need to hide sometimes - i've had so many masks i have lost count - as always L5 stuff

ps, they really don't make programmes like they used to....

Awareness said...

Hi Shaz....too funny about the comment! When I first read it, I thought...that sounds like Shaz!

Hi Rob...Capt Kangaroo was my favourite. He had such a wonderful friendly voice.

Paul....yes, I think we do need to hide sometimes, especially during times of transition when we are learning and figuring stuff out. I'm doing a workshop on this..."life transitions" for a professional development writing this week seems to be helping me gather my thoughts for the workshop. Hence, two posts with a learning/transitions theme

I found this to be a very interesting prompt and ended up writing a variety of ideas down which didn't make it to "post."

My other ideas centred how darkness allows us freedom to be fully naked, because we are hiding in the dark....though it's a fine line between vulnerability and freedom...or maybe they are one in the same?

I was also thinking of the negative side of the the computer and technology have led some to seek out child pornography etc, thinking they are behind a "mask" and are anon.

Lots of the L5 :)

Awareness said...

Paul...oh, one more idea I want to share.....which I was very close to writing about and just would be on "the mask of intolerance" and how often it's worn by Fundamentalists. Now, that would be a goodie, wouldn't it?

paris parfait said...

I love how your post begins and ends with the childhood program's positive message.I remember once as a child dressing up in an evening gown and "mink" stole and dancing around and had my brother take a picture. Sometimes I would stare in the mirror for a long time and I think my mother thought I was vain. I wasn't vain; I was just trying to figure out who I was back then. All children need to be given the freedom to try on lots of different "masks" as they advance through life. Great post!

Regina Clare Jane said...

Masks seem to serve so many different purposes for all of us throughout our lives... I guess the trick is knowing when you are wearing one and when to take it off!
A very good post- lots of food for thought!

Awareness said...

tara...thanks. like you, i did the same thing. Now, I see my daughter looking in the mirror or at her reflection often. She has physically stretched and grown up over the past year or so, that part of her looking is learning to recognize herself. It's an interesting age to observe. The key is to remember what it was like, don't you think.
Glad the beginning and ending worked. I had a tough time ending it....and feel there is something missing in the last paragraph....ah well....will let it sit as is for now.

Regina. I think you're absolutely right. We have to be aware of when we are using a mask, or it will truly mess up our picture of who we truly are.

gautami tripathy said...

Kids are so unhibited. They can play any role whatsoever. They even know when to take those masks off. We the adults keep them on forever. Hiding behind it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Really interesting as you show us the different masks we wear as we grow up.