Well, I think it’s safe to say that Kindergarten has been kicking my butt. (*My* butt. Addy’s been doing great. I’m ready for afternoon naps again.) Over a month since my last post? Yikes…
I’ve been thinking about an evening a few years ago when Keith and I went out to a restaurant for dinner. We spotted a young couple at a nearby table that intrigued us. The girl (maybe late teens or early twenties) had her hoodie pulled up so far on her head that she practically created a tunnel to her face. Her shoulders sloped down and she looked uncomfortable with herself, shrinking from view. She chatted quietly with her boyfriend across the table. This was a girl who clearly wanted to not be seen. (So, naturally, I stared, but I’m a bit of a voyeur anyway.)
After a few minutes of watching her out of the corner of my eye, I finally saw the cause of her discomfort when she turned her head to talk to the waitress: a big, bright port wine stain shaped just like Addy’s, right there on her face, splotched on her cheek (and, if I recall, up onto the forehead) like spilled paint. Ah-ha!
I met Keith’s eye to see if he had noticed it, too. He had. We silently nodded to each other (the annoying way married people do, covering a whole conversation in a single look, but for once we actually shared the *same* conversation, a rarity). Anyway. One look, and we solemnly understood that this girl in her hoodie represented everything we DID NOT want for our baby girl: embarrassment, shame, and a certain… defeated comfort in her slouched posture. She had lost, and that was okay with her. As long as she could hide that face.
Interestingly, this young woman’s hide-from-the-world posture is precisely what attracted my attention in the first place and made me want to look more. Her defeated slouch made me wonder what her story was. Meanwhile, many people have told us that they hardly notice Addy’s stain because her personality is so grandiose, so immediately engaging that they simply don’t have time to wonder about her face while she’s telling them about her favorite movie and favorite princess and inviting them to sit down and be comfortable while she talks (and talks, and talks, and talks…).
So I wonder if that young woman had been ashamed of her face her whole life (with lax parenting), or if she learned to be ashamed later by the reactions of life’s trolls and bullies. And, if it was the latter, how can the parent of an innocent, confident kid like Addy fend off that impending shame?
Certainly lots of truthful affirmations, honest compliments, and confidence-building habits all sound good for sculpting a kick-tushy confident kid, but will it be enough, when the trolls come out, to prevent that kid from shrinking into a sloucher in a hoodie?