Z came home from school the other day in tears. Another child in her class had called her ‘short.’
My instinctive response was to cuddle and soothe along with marching into her classroom and having a word with her teachers, not to mention the other child’s parents. But the first words I forced out of my mouth were “So what?” She looked a little startled at my matter of fact question.
“But mama, she said I was short and laughed at me.”
“And what’s wrong with being short? People come in all shapes and sizes. That’s normal.”
Z giggled. “Mama, people don’t come in different shapes. Objects do.”
We happened to be stuck in a terrible traffic jam at that time. So, I asked her to look outside and tell me how many people she could find who looked exactly the same as each other. After much giggling and pointing, she said, “No one. You’re right, mama. Everyone is different.”
Crisis averted. Message received. And yet, it makes me wonder at the world we live in that my three-year-old daughter is made to feel inadequate for being tinier than the others in her class. And by another child no less.
I often tell Z that the most important thing in the world is to be kind. That who she is means more than what she does in life. Something she uses very effectively when I’m checking her bad behavior. Her one stop response is “Mama, you’re not being kind to me.”
Talk about things coming back to bite you in the butt. I try to model the behavior I hope to see from her. I slip up sometimes. Okay, many times. But the important part is that I keep trying.
At the end of the day isn’t that what parenting is all about? We keep trying. To do our best. To be our best. To hope for the best.