Thursday, August 25, 2011

When pretty is ugly

In the midst of this record-setting heat, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to entertain and occupy my crazy children. Every morning I wake up, take a quick glance out the window, then turn on the news to confirm my fears. It's going to be another scorcher! 1256th day in row! No end in sight!

Sometimes I wonder if this is what it's like to wake up in prison everyday.

With the walls closing in, I'm trying to find fun and interesting places for Elise and Mattias to expend their energy while making a mess I don't have to clean up. This is how I found myself at our church's indoor play area the other day.

Upon walking into the play area, I could see these girls were going to trouble. Let us call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (or Dee and Dum for short). They had that look. The "I am so cool and better than you" look. And at the ripe old age of 4, they had perfected the "us four and no more" mindset that seems to be so prevalent here in Texas.

Elise immediately went up to them and asked, "can I be your friend and play with you?" I sucked in my breath, because just looking at Dee and Dum, I knew what the answer would be. Sure enough, Elise came walking back to me with tears in her downcast eyes.

"Mom," she said, "those girls don't want to be my friend. They said they wouldn't play with me and to go away."

Now, anytime anyone hurts my child, be they 4 or 44 , my first instinct is to go all mama bear on their ass. Visions danced through my mind of grabbing them by their little blonde braids and dragging them to a corner where I could hiss into their ears all the mean things I could do to them (starting with cutting off those braids) if they ever dared made my daughter, or any other child, cry again.

Thankfully, I am an adult (or at least act like one on occasion), and decided to instead use this incident as a lesson for Elise.

"Elise," I asked her, "why do you want to play with those girls?"

"Because they're pretty. And I like their headbands."

(Apparently looks and fashion are important to my child. I blame Fred).

"Well," I said, "sometimes people can be pretty on the outside, but ugly on the inside. Do you understand? If you act ugly, and treat people not nice, then I think that makes you ugly on the inside. And it is much more important to be pretty on the inside than on the outside, don't you think?"

"Why?"

"Because, how we act shows who we really are. If we are mean, and make people feel bad, then we are ugly. But if we are kind, and helpful, and friendly; then that makes us beautiful. And if we act like that, that will be the kind of people who will be our friends."

Her face scrunched up and I could tell she was putting a lot of thought into what was coming next. "So", she said, "if I want people to be nice to me, I should be nice to other people?"

Do unto others, people. My 3 year old daughter gets it. Then why is it so hard for adults?

Thankfully, another little girl Elise's age came into the play area and was only too happy to play with Elise. Strangely enough, she too was shot down by Dee and Dum.

As much as I hate for Elise to feel hurt, I am thankful for the lessons she is learning. And thankful for a daughter that is beautiful... inside and out.



8 comments:

sky0138 said...

love this post Jo! I hate seeing Emma run into situations like that. I'm so gad that you got to talk with Elise and she learned and understood the "do unto others" lesson...so great! What a fantastic kiddo you have there!

David and April Vinson said...

Oh Joanne! You handled yourself so well! I think I would have lost it on the little girls! Oh I do NOT look forward to things like that happening to my babies! Sounds like you're using the Love and Logic approach? Just started reading that book. Give sweet Elise a big hug for me! What a wonderful little girl!

Kim said...

This idea that Jesus taught has so many crossover lessons. "Would you like it if I grabbed your toy like you just grabbed your brother's toy? Is that treating people that way you want to be treated?"

In fact, I would encourage you to find a simple version of Matthew 5:27-36. She is such a smart girl, and even if you just talk about 1 or 2 verses a night for a week, I bet you will be amazed at the insight she shares.

Josiah always surprises me with how much he understands, and I often try to give him scenarios from his life that have come up or might come up so that he can apply it.

And if this encourages you at all, I read an article about a study that kids that are popular growing up often struggle to make their own way later as they are so used to just following the crowd. Whereas those who don't fit in actually do better because they had to learn to make their own decisions and stand up for themselves.

Kim said...

Jo,

Check out this post from me a few years ago. So similar, except I didn't have any great answers at the time. :-) http://thoughts-along-the-journey.blogspot.com/2008/08/do-you-want-to-be-my-friend.html

shannon said...

love this post, thanks for sharing. if only adults could get it like elise does!

Amanda said...

We just experienced this same thing tonight with our friends. And, I thought that my son didn't understand it, but he did and his feelings are hurt. I love how you turned it into a lesson for loving others and being kind no matter what. We may discuss it again tomorrow with him. I'm so EXCITED to see your family on Monday night!!!

emily w said...

what a wonderful post!!

My Little Eye said...

Precious!! love it!