Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WHAT MATTERS MOST?

Somedays I still wonder about washing that tennis skirt ……



It was the summer of 2012.  I picked my granddaughter up at tennis camp. We grabbed lunch and headed off to meet friends at the park.  On the way, she asked,
      "Can we wash my tennis skirt when we get home so I can wear it again to tennis camp tomorrow?"

Explaining we had a pretty full afternoon planned and there might not be time to wash it, she asked again, adding one long,  "Puulllleeeeeezzzzzzzzzzz!"

I further explained that her Mom had packed a swim skirt that would do, but she begged again.

When I asked why, her voice came quietly from the back seat of the car,
       "The kids will all think it's dumb to wear a swim skirt to play tennis."

I felt my stomach clench and my heart sink down just a bit.  My mind whirled.
        Really????  I thought.  Already?? At five years old, she is worrying about what the other kids will think?

How do I talk to her about this?  How do I help her see that what matters is what she thinks.  I don't want any of her wonderful energy going into winning approval.  I don't want her to fear stepping outside the box of acceptability.  I don't want her creativity stunted by that worry.  I don't want her to miss out on the beauty of simply being herself, having her own ideas and her own desires.  I especially don't want her thinking, "If I do this, they will say _________."

Reacting to the clench in my gut, I spoke into the back seat,
    "It doesn't really matter what the other kids think, O.  All that matters is what you think."

She was quiet.  I continued.
        "I'm still learning that."

"STILL?  Not just when you were a kid, Noni?"

"Yup…still."

And although I am doing a much better job at this as a grandparent than I did as a parent or a kid, the "Yup….still" response maybe explains the clench in my gut and this wondering.

 How do we continue to help our children and grandchildren, and yes, ourselves,  settle into knowing that what matters most  is what we think of ourselves and not what anyone else might think of us?

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