My heart kind of froze a little when she walked in this morning, bedhead, sleepy eyes, carrying the flower girl dress she wore so beautifully this weekend. Mommy, can I wear it to school today? I saw Brad's big eyes, but then I saw the light of bravery in hers. She doesn't always choose to be brave. She tends to be more of a quiet observer. She doesn't love the spotlight, even though you would probably not know it. She has more confidence than she realizes. I said "yes, of course you can wear it. You will look amazing. Go ahead and throw in shorts and a tshirt for when you go outside" (or in case people are mean and make you feel stupid....please God don’t let anybody make her feel stupid....)
She almost chickened out on the way to school. I told her she could change in the car, but we didn't have time to go back home. She decided to push through. "Mommy, is this weird?" Me: "yeah! that's what makes it cool. We are weird. That's what makes us special!" (Praying the whole time: Jesus please don't let people be mean. Please don't let them be mean...)
Getting out of the car she hesitated. I threw up inside. I want to empower her to be brave. Not shield her from moments that have the potential to be uncomfortable. So we talk out what she can say if somebody asks questions that hurt her feelings "why are you wearing that?" She can say "because I just felt fancy today" I have learned it's a game changer to arm the kids with ideas for how to answer awkward questions and comments.
As we walked through the parking lot, we saw a little girl her age from a different class. The little girl shyly came up to us as we waited to cross the street "I like your pretty dress." (Naomi, if your mother ever reads this, she has raised a little girl who spoke life into mine. I celebrate you so hard today). As we walked into school the counselor and principal both oohed and aahed over her. Then, she went inside. alone. I love/hate that moment when you know you wont be there to buffer. That's what growing up is all about, though...
I prayed so hard the whole way home. I imagined the worst case scenario: her crying in a bathroom stall, feeling shame as she changed into Nike shorts and tried to figure out how to hide all that tulle...I imagined the best case scenario: it just being a normal day and a few people telling her she's pretty.
I LOVE her teacher. She was amazing when my son had her, so I was sure she wouldn't be irritated at priss for wearing such a distracting dress. I knew she would never make her feel like an inconvenience. I knew she would encourage the other kids to be kind.
But I wasn't prepared for the text she sent me, and the pictures. Sometimes even the most amazing people surprise you by taking it a step further. Selah will learn a lot in second grade, some she will remember....predicates she will forget (if she's anything like me...) but I doubt she will ever forget the way it felt to be brave today. That kind of moment will forever be burned into her belief system about who she is and how people perceive her. To all the teachers who go above and beyond, thank you for being our kids champions! Angie, thank you for not just lavishing encouragement, bur for jumping IN with her to be brave. Moments like that are pivotal in a kids life. They are identity markers.