Little girl watching
Talking with Rylee today I was amazed at the words that came out of her little 6 year old mouth.
“Mama, when I look in the mirror, I don’t feel very beautiful. I don’t see pretty.”
I was taken aback and carefully calculated my next words and talked with her at length about why she felt that way. It came down to teeth.
“My teeth are missing, people always talk about it. I think it looks different. I don’t think my mouth is pretty.”
Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to be sincere. I wanted to speak words that affirmed her little sweet self in a genuine way. Having been on the receiving end of more ‘pat answers’ in life that I’d like, I didn’t want to give her one.
I told her I could imagine how weird it felt. I told her those new teeth would be on their way in by winter. I told her that she was indeed beautiful with or without teeth because I believe she is.
What I now wish I had said was: “I know what you mean. I understand what your heart feels like when you don’t see pretty. The truth is, even when you don’t, you still are. God made you beautiful and He sees you as lovely every day of your life.”
It made me realize, yet again, how powerful the words and glances of others impact the way we see things, especially ourselves. Even as a 6 year old. The tiniest little words that mean no harm but somehow convey – “You look strange and not quite as pretty as you would if you had teeth”.
If I counted the times in a day I commented or looked on at something or someone that was in some way ‘different’, I’m ashamed to say it would be more than it should. And I make a great effort to keep those thoughts/feeling to myself. I think they still get communicated to others somehow.
The idea that different is bad, even when it comes to something as simple as lack of teeth, is such a hard one to nip. Modeling instead that (most) differences are part of our God-given uniqueness is what I long to pass on to my children. It is one thing that I sure intend to keep working on.
I also renewed my commitment not to complain about my looks or my body at all, especially not in front of Rylee. She is soaking in my every word and I don’t want her to learn to pick out all her flaws from me. She’ll get enough help from that elsewhere. My heart longs for her to learn to be comfortable in her own skin and content with what she looks like at each stage of life.
Toothless grinned 6 year old stage.
Awkward, pubescent 13 year old stage.
Skinny, long legged high school stage.
Round with a baby belly stage.
Still round after baby stage.
And whatever other body stage that might find it’s way around.
Let me just say, this is easier said than done. I have a whole post coming about this topic. It involves a girdle and a sermon and it might make you smile.
It’s not the first time I’ve said it, parenting is such hard work.
It is such a training ground. And a refining, blazing fire some days.
Very sweet. I will make an effort to do the same when I’m around her. She is a precious little girl and is beautiful in and out.
Im so use to “different” but know my heart will break the first time Logan realizes that not everyone sees him as perfectly as we do! We spend lots of time talking about differences. Tell Riley we think she is beautiful and toatally amazing!
You could tell her that when she was born everyone thought she looked like a porcelain doll- that she was the most beautiful baby we all had ever seen (seriously, this is what people said). and she still is really one of the most beautiful little girls. I love toothless grins 🙂 and i agree- parenting is the HARDEST thing i’ll ever do in life. there are so many things i wish i could do better…
Just read a book with my students and talked about this topic today. You should read “Oliver Button is a Sissy” with her.