My littlest girlie was enjoying a bit of video time as I assembled lunch, stashed dishes, and basically mumbled under my breath the list of things I wanted to tackle yet before the end of the
morning day. She had found the latest Cinderella movie online (thanks, Netflix), had fast-forwarded to the swooningly romantic moment of Cinderella’s entrance into the grand ball, and was oblivious to my hustling and bustling around in the kitchen behind her.
When she joined me at the island for lunch, I could tell something was stirring in her wee little heart. It took a few simple questions and out it came….
…. in the light of Cinderella’s magical beauty (after all, she does have glitter gems in her hair and a poufy blue dress, which at age five is a PRETTY BIG DEAL…) my little gal felt ugly and less confident in her own loveliness.
Oh man. Security attack.
Of course I dove right in with, “Oh honey you are SO BEAUTIFUL!” Which, (smack to the front of ones head) is, of course, such a typical parental thing to say and something I thought I would never say, but there it was. To which she naturally responded, “Oh, you’re just saying that because you’re my mom and you just want me to feel better.” She’s FIVE and we’re totally having this scripted conversation. I felt like we were part of a tv show for a moment.
I panicked. There had to be a way to redeem this cliche parenting moment :).
I paused. How do we teach our children the truths about loving themselves ….
…. that someone else’s chance to shine does not diminish your own significance ….
…. that you can admire someone for their strengths or gifts or beauty or opportunities or whatever – and still love yourself ….
…. that we do no one any favours when we compare our short-comings to others perceived strengths (or if we are feeling particularly snarky, our strengths to someone’s perceived weakness) ….
…. that there will be times that we feel “less than” – less than beautiful, smart, talented, funny, capable – and that hopefully, we do have trusted souls to stand with us in that moment and help us see the truth of who we are.
We have THIS on our fridge …. totally covered in fingerprints (because fingerprints every where is just a very real part of life….) …. positioned at the top of the fridge (because we used to have THREE but Kezia kept throwing them on the floor and we all know that dollarama mirrors don’t last forever) …. as a reminder….
When I finally get around to hanging the mirrors in the girls bedrooms (the mirrors I’ve only had for about a year now and keep promising myself that I will get to putting them up before they head off to college), I want to write this across the top….
The most beautiful person you can be is yourself. Some days, that might mean having glitter gems in your hair. And rockin’ a big poufy blue dress (if that’s your thing….). Other days, that might not feel like enough. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
We did recover the parenting moment. After listening to her share her heart, I gently tapped her chest and said, “Kiddo, I do think you are beautiful. But you need to learn to remember it too. And Cinderella is very lovely in her blue dress, but just because she is pretty doesn’t mean you are not. You can both be pretty in your own way.” She was quiet. I mean, it’s hard to “feel pretty in your own way” when you are comparing your comfy house leggings, which may or may not be forming a hole in the knee, to a sparkly blue gown. But she got it.
I am sure we’ll have many opportunities to learn these lessons again and again. And again. Even as a “grown up” I still have to let this truth sink deep into my heart. Thank goodness for grace.