Monday, February 20, 2012

How the Fur Flies

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -E.E. Cummings


Parenthood is full of epiphanies. Those moments when you realize your limitations as a parent, or your child's limitations as whatever they are trying to become. And then there are the epiphanies worth writing about. The moments when you realize that all of your hard work, all of your worry, all of your sleep deprivation and financial struggles are worth it. This is a story about one of those moments.

Peanut wore a new jacket to school last Thursday. The zipper on her regular jacket broke off when she was outside playing the day before. You know how kids get attached to certain things, and particular pieces of clothing? Well despite an outerwear wardrobe that would make Diana Ross blush, she chooses to wear the same jacket every day. Thus, the tired zipper.

My half-Italian leopard-print princess
Her backup jacket is this snazzy pink leopard-print number with a fur-lined hood. It goes without saying, but just for clarity's sake, my mom is the one who got her this coat. I think my mom may have a matching one.

Peanut didn't protest the change. She likes this jacket just fine. But she told me a story about how one of her friends at school had a negative reaction to it. "Daddy, (so-and-so) felt the fur and she said "Ewww." This was no political statement about fur or, in this case, faux fur. It was just a child being a child. Still, my first thought was, "How dare that little snot." Instead of expressing that feeling, I asked Peanut what  she said in response. "Nuffin," she shrugged. (That's Peanut for "nothing.")

She didn't seem fazed. More like she was just stating a fact. Her friend felt her jacket and said this. Can I have a snack now? Then I explained about different tastes and how sometimes our friends won't always like everything we like.

Later that night, I relayed the same story to My Director. She thought I was going to take the opportunity to make a snarky comment about another five year-old. (Really? Am I that shallow? That predictable?) But I wasn't mad at the little girl for expressing her opinion. Upon further review, I realized I was impressed with Peanut's response. She didn't say anything negative back. Didn't get defensive or lash out. She was... ambivalent.

"She has no concept of saying something negative like that to someone. None. The thought is foreign to her. Never would cross her mind," I said.

My Director agreed.

Then I came to the epiphany that inspired this blog post. And I admit, I'm going to sound like a proud, bragging dad here. But anyone who knows me or reads this blog would know I wouldn't have said it if I didn't think it was true.

"We know she's a good girl, but this makes me realize she's a good person."

And she agreed again. I was so proud at that moment. That a month before her 5th birthday I can tell my daughter is a good person. Now it's my job to make sure she stays that way. Sure, she has her moments of bossiness, lippy-ness. Sure there are times where she chooses not to listen, even pretends not to hear. But overall, she's a good girl.

Eventually she'll learn about all the negative in this world. There's plenty of time for that. But for now, I know she's a good person.

That's all a dad could ask for.

Peanut also recently taught me she has an admirable amount of fight and courage. I wrote about that here.

4 comments:

  1. She handled herself very well. Gotta love the innocence of being a child. Hopefully, she'll remain untainted by the negativeness of this world.

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  2. Nice. What a wonderful world this would be if it were a world full of Peanuts. ;)

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  3. Yes... both of you raise an excellent point: How do we keep them from being judgmental? How do we keep them from thinking the worst of people?

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    Replies
    1. Just keep doing what you're doing because you're doing a great job! But you can never stop reinforcing your beliefs on how to handle life situations. As the mom of a 16-year-old daughter, I still keep at it. Just last week a girl in her class made a snarky, b**chy comment to her. She said to me, "don't worry mom. It doesn't bother me. She was just trying to get attention. You never know what might be going on in her life to make her want to be mean just to get attention." I'm glad she could deal with it that way because there are a lot of nasty people in the world. We've been working on it for 16 years and it's never easy to be a parent and you can never take a day off. But it is so worth it when you have a child who can deal with whatever comes their way in life. Keep up the good work!

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