From the moment children begin to talk, they begin asking questions. Usually, their questions begin with the word “why”, and they can range from serious to silly. After fourteen years of parenting, I have heard hundreds of questions posed by my two daughters, but the one that I was asked recently gave me pause. Why do people have to be so mean, Mom?
The question itself made my heart ache a bit, but as I heard my youngest daughter provide the back story that prompted the question, my heartache grew. Being a pre-adolescent in this day and age is tough enough, and it is made all the tougher when you are subjected to others being mean. My daughters are not perfect, but they are pretty close in my biased opinion, in the sense that they both are smart, beautiful inside and out, polite, funny, and kind. My youngest daughter is big-hearted, happy-go-lucky, and self-confident, and when someone is in need, she is the first one to offer a helping hand, a kind word, or a laugh. So, it was tough to hear how her feelings had been hurt, and it definitely made me want to respond in anything but a kind way.
As we talked, I struggled to find the right words to both answer her question and to soothe her. I talked in circles about how hurt people hurt people and how their words and actions speak volumes about them and nothing about her, and I reminded her of how loved she is by her family and friends. As I continued to stumble over my words, a bit of divine intervention came to my rescue.
Out of the recesses of my mind emerged the sage, irreverent advice my maternal grandmother shared with me when I was little girl with big tears and hurt feelings of my own. Suddenly, I blurted out, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down!” My daughter, who had been patiently listening to my ramblings, stopped mid-sniffle and began to giggle. Then, I joined in, as I explained that she cannot change or control what others choose to say or do, but she can choose how she responds to others and implored her not to let anyone steal her joy, especially the turkeys.
Our chat ended, and she went on her way, saying no more about it. Sometimes, it is difficult to gauge how much children absorb from their parents, but this morning, she let me know that she heard me. As she bounded out of the car when we arrived for her first day of junior high, she said, “I love you, Mom”, and then, she turned around and said, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down!” I had a good laugh, and somewhere, I know that my grandmother did, too.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story