I watched her laugh at her daughter when she dropped the snacks on the floor. I saw her daughter hang her head when her mom announced, loudly, that she’s so clumsy and drops things all of the time. It was so sad, but, I tried not to judge and chose to assume that it was just one of those things. Ok, I might have vented it out on my facebook, but, still, I didn't hold a grudge over it. After all, I know that I say things to my kids that I shouldn’t say. And, in no way am I suggesting that I am any better than her. Well, I do dress better, but that’s not relevant. ;)
But, then there was last week, the girls were decorating cookies. Lizzie was taking her time with it and slowly frosting the cookies, long after the other girls were done. Of course, I thought this was adorable and loved that she was into it. But, the mom made a point of commenting that Lizzie was going really slowly.
While, this was happening, the other little girl came over and showed me her cookies. I told her how pretty they were and she proceeded to give me details about the different ways that she had decorated them. But, the problem was, she made statements like “____ did a better job than me.” “This is grass but I messed it up.” “Here’s a flower but I didn’t do a very good job on it.”
In the past, Lizzie would cling to my legs in public, especially when encountering groups. Lizzie was so shy and insecure in preschool that the director took me aside and expressed her concerns that Lizzie might have a developmental delay. She was worried because she wouldn’t answer questions. She has struggled with writing and math in kindergarten, primarily because of lack of confidence. She has been doing so much better, though, due to her awesome teacher, and maybe, a little bit to her mom who tends to tell her how amazing she is. :) But, still, this weekend when we went to Build-A-Bear for a Girl Scout event, she was nervous. When she saw the animals being stuffed and saw the employees asking the girls questions, she took a step back and whispered to me, "I don't know what to say." So, we watched for a few minutes before officially getting in line.
I have no doubt that this woman loves her daughter. I can see it in her eyes. She doesn’t realize that she’s potentially causing damage. So, I don’t write this as an excuse to bash a mom. We’re all just trying to make it, through, after all.
I write this because it really was a reminder. It' s a reminder to watch what I say.
But, the good news is, yes, the negative sticks with you, but, the positive does, too. I remember when my mom smiled at me while I was singing in church and said that I sounded nice. And, I felt so proud that my mom liked my voice. I remember when she took me with her to decorate hats, then made me feel special by hanging mine on the wall. I remember that my dad drove my sister and I to the bus stop in the mornings (even though, it was close enough to walk), so that he could spend a few minutes with us. He would pretend to be speeding up and down the hills and my sister would say "Dad, you're a wild driver!" And, he would laugh. He wasn't speeding at all, though, of course. :)
So, the last several days, I’ve been paying more attention to my words. I’ve tried to use gentler tones. I’ve taken their hands in mine and (made them) look into my eyes while I looked into theirs and said “I love you and I’m proud of you.” And, each time, they rolled their eyes and wandered off, but I know that they’re happy to hear it. (I can’t just give a pat on the back, I gotta go a little cheesy with it!)