Sometimes lessons come immediately and sometimes they come slowly. My daughter was jumping on the bed the other night as she does many nights. It’s part of her evening performance of “I don’t want to go to bed, and you can’t make me!” She missed the dismount in her grand finale of throwing herself down onto her pillow and torpetoed herself face first into her headboard. Her immediate response was to jump into my arms and say “You told me to stop jumping, you were right!” I wanted to savor the moment of hearing those three words I may never hear again from her mouth, but knew she needed ice, and fast. The swelling above her eye was enough to be uncomfortable the next day so we kept her home from school and iced her face most of the day watching her black eye develop.
Day two rolled around and she was sick to her stomach and thought she was going to throw up. I knew that it was her being nervous about going to school with a black eye. She was afraid that the other kids were going to laugh at her. She didn’t know this, but I knew this because I used to have stomach aches every day before school. I caved and let her stay home another day thinking that it might help her nerves. As day three approached my husband and I talked to her a lot about the other kids and how they would probably have questions about her black eye and how she got it. We told her that kids would want to look at it up close and probably hear all of the details about what had happened. We told her the boys would probably think it was cool and some of the girls might be a little scared by it but they were her friends so they would still give her hugs and let her know they were happy she was back at school.
The following morning I had to pull out all of my tricks to get her in the car to school. She walked around the house for nearly an hour convinced she was going to vomit, sobbing. By the end of the morning I was getting both of us dressed with the soundtrack to My Little Pony Equestria Girls Legend of Everfree blaring in the bedroom. I had told her every story I knew about being nervous and plowing through whatever the challenge was. I had tried talking and rationalizing and distracting and ignoring and everything in between and I knew that the only thing that was going to settle this little girl’s nerves was a good old fashioned dance party for two. So we danced and sang and did our thing.
I walked her into school that morning holding her hand. I told her I would take her all the way to her classroom so I could talk to her teacher. I saw the looks on some of the kids faces when they saw her eye and how a few of them recoiled. I also saw many of them walk over and hug her. One of the little girls even gave her a homemade get well card. She had made it to school without throwing up or turning into a puddle of tears in the hallway. She had also made it without a proper hair brushing or breakfast, but she was there and she was happy to be there.
As I left the school that morning I walked smack-dab into the middle of a conversation about me. I saw it from halfway down the hall when the one gossiping saw me round the corner and tried to quiet her friend as I neared. I probably should have ignored it and kept walking, but that’s really not my style. I had to walk up into the middle of the conversation just to insert myself for that one brief uncomfortable moment. I really had no time to stop and chat because I was late for work already, but the defiant teenager in me had to make them squirm.
The funny thing is that I asked for these women to talk about me. I had sent one of them the link to my writings thinking that she might like the content, being a mom and a woman and a human who might have feelings and insecurities and thoughts like I do. I know that opening myself up and taking this giant leap into the unknown also opens the door for people just not getting it or just not liking it and I’m really okay with that. Not everyone is going to be a fan, but I’m doing something I love and I’m doing it for me. And just like my daughter, I am occasionally going to feel like I might throw up because of what other people say or think, but that’s okay too. I left the school that morning reminded that there are always going to be the mean girls. There are always going to be people who point and laugh because they don’t get you. I have to remind myself that usually the finger pointing and laughing says more about them than it does about me. I’m grateful that my reaction to my daughter’s fears about people pointing and laughing at her can be to know that it’s going to happen in life and it shouldn’t ever stop her from being herself. I’m grateful that we can dance away the nerves together when we feel unsure of ourselves instead of getting angry and bitter. I’m grateful that I can show her that the greatest thing you can do for yourself is to do your thing no matter what anyone else thinks.
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