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I kept asking her why she wasn’t smiling, why she wasn’t excited, but I had forgotten…for a moment I forgot that I was parenting the brave child. The answers aren’t on the surface… it’s never that straightforward.
Our children are each so beautiful and unique in their own ways. The color of their hair, their temperament, their likes, their dislikes…each and everyone is different and while we may not love every quirk our child has, we love the sum total that makes them who they are!
For many of us moms, we are lucky to have what I call the “brave” child or the “strong” child.
The tough kid, the “I’m ok” kid, the one who seems unphased by bloody knees or scraped arms. The one who seems comfortable in virtually every situation they are thrown into. The ones who go full steam ahead at the playground or amusement park – trying every ride they can get in line for without wondering if it’s scary.
These kids are usually pretty easy to spot, even at a young age. I knew my oldest daughter was a “strong” child early on. She rarely cried…like ever. Sure, as a baby she fussed when she was hungry or wet. But even as a toddler, she could run into a wall or scrape the skin off her knee and usually just shake it off. (In fact, I got so accustomed to this that my 2nd child turned my world upside down!)
I remember the first time she broke her wrist – she was so “brave” that I waited nearly 24 hours before visiting the doctor because it was just hard to tell if she was in a lot of pain.
She still had that smile on her face – that sweet precious smile that draws me in and makes me wish I could hold her just like that forever.
So with my oldest, sometimes I forget. I forget that she is still a child. A little girl that gets scared. A little girl who needs reassurance. Who needs to know that she CAN do something.
I was reminded of this just last night.
Our daughter loves her gymnastics class – you can see the joy in her face with every cartwheel and tumble. But this year, she wanted to try a new class – the same place but a different focus. I just assumed that my brave, strong child would waltz into that class with the same zeal she approaches most everything else.
But something was off with her yesterday- all day yesterday – she just wasn’t herself. When I’d catch her out of the corner of my eye, she wasn’t smiling as usual. She seemed distracted, distant, different. I asked her if she was ok but didn’t press it when she said she was.
Then it was time for class – we were rushing into the gymnastics facility and I was getting annoyed that she wasn’t excited. She wasn’t running ahead to get into class first. After asking me to join and then talking about it every day, she wasn’t excited. Seriously? Did she not know I had to pay her registration fee, first, AND last month’s tuition just for her to NOT be excited?
Finally, in a mom moment, I’m not proud of, I said “Honey, what is WRONG with you? Why can’t you be excited about this class?”
And then, with tears filling her eyes, she looked at me square on and said, “Mom, I’m just afraid I won’t be able to make any friends in this class.”
Oh…Oh, I get it now. You’re a normal kid.
You get scared and worried and nervous. You are six years old!
And then tears filled MY eyes. How could I have lost sight of this? That despite her tough exterior, she is still my little girl. Just because she is smiling doesn’t mean she is without sadness..or worry….or fears.
So I hugged her tight and told her that she was going to do great. And that she would make new friends. Just to be herself and others would WANT to be around her.
And as she walked into class, she turned to me one last time – she gave me her smile and I returned the same. And I told myself to not forget this moment. Not to forget that regardless of the way children ACT, they need our reassurance.
They need our support.
Through their smiles on the outside, they still need our reassurance on the inside. They still question, worry, and think about things- they just don’t show it as others do.
They don’t just need us to tell them they can do something… they need us to show them they can do ANYTHING!
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