“I don’t want to go to a carnival. Who will play with me? I don’t want people to say I’m weird.”
So says my girl, out of the blue but not unexpected. She is six years old. I wondered when it would happen: when she would in some way realize she’s not quite the same as other kids. I assumed someone had said something to her recently, but it didn’t matter.
(Aside: I envy you people who can just talk without letting your emotions take over. I am not so fortunate. For me, the more important something is, the more clearly I want to speak, the more likely I am to cry. It’s annoying as heck.)
I sat down beside her and prayed that I would hold it together. “Baby girl, look at me. You’re still learning to get along with people, with your friends. So are they. They maybe didn’t mean it in a bad way. Yes, you are different than most other kids, and not everybody understands or knows how to react to people who are different. The IMPORTANT thing is that you know you are perfect just the way you are. What other people think of you does not matter. Most people are like.. normal daylight. You are bright and colorful, like sunsets. And rainbows. Okay? You are different and wonderful. You are supposed to be wonderful-”
She interrupts – “Can you stop saying I’m wonderful?”
Me: “Well you are. Why do you want me to stop?”
Her: “When you say that it sounds like love and that makes me cry.”
(Well then. Definitely my girl. That did NOT help my so-far-amazing self control.)
Me: “I hear ya. I cry easily, too, and I don’t like it, either. There are more fun things we could do right now, anyway. Want to come to a carnival with your sister and me? We don’t have to but I think you’d like it.”
“Yes. I want to go.”
And we had fun; she played with strangers and friends, too, and we went for ice cream after.
And we talked some more that night when I was putting her to bed and I told her she was wonderful and beautiful some more and we hugged and let ourselves cry for a bit.
Does she need to work on some basic social skills? Heavens yes. She needs to learn that not everybody speaks ‘dragon’, so roaring in response to a question isn’t always appropriate (during church, for example). And that hugging a friend goodbye should be more ‘gentle squeeze’ and less ‘viselike crush’ (“If there is shrieking you may be squeezing them too tight”).
Ironically, she also needs to work on thinking before she speaks as some compliments such as “your hair is curly like a pig’s tail! Hahahaha!” just aren’t received well. Kind of the same as, “You’re weird, hahaha!”, right?
It’s a learning process.
But honestly, why do we have to be adults before we can appreciate ourselves? The same self-esteem boosts we adults tell ourselves need to be for kids, too.
My quirky girl needs to see herself as lovable and worthy of friendship just as she is – her true friends will love her and they’ll all bumble through together. Being super popular is not important, being free to be her authentic self is.
(I hesitate to tell her, as far as I can tell the ‘crying easily’ thing seems to be attached to one’s authentic self. 😆😭) ❤️ Sue
(Image description: greens and red background with Danielle LaPorte quote in white lettering: “You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.”)