No not with the diet (I’ll update on that later) but in bringing up my daughter… I think, maybe, I don’t know.
“You’re so beautiful” I said to her as I stroked her face on my lap top screen, stopping in her tracks from telling me over Skype about something wonderful she’d done that day. I shouldn’t interrupt, I learned that from Bill Cosby years ago, before I had kids, he said you should let your kids speak without interruption for at least 5 minutes at a time if you want them to carry on speaking to you as they grow up… it stuck with me and I think it works but sometimes it’s not possible. You have to let them keep on talking, even if they stop talking you just sit and look at them and don’t speak and it’s amazing, they say something else and talk some more without prompt. Your job is to just nod and insert appropriate facial expressions. He said the most important time to do this is right after they come home from school.
She’d probably only been speaking for 2 minutes but I couldn’t help myself, as she lie there all snuggled up in bed, face freshly cleansed and moisturised, bright eyes, perfectly shaped eye brows, pink cheeks, shiny nose, white teeth, raven hair tied back exposing her beautiful bone structure, I couldn’t help myself. I had to say it, because she is.
“Oh mum” she said “You’re the only person in the world who actually thinks that, but it’s OK you have to think that, you’re my mum so it’s OK.”
I laughed “You don’t believe that do you?” I asked her.
“You are mum, but it doesn’t matter. Shall I carry on with what I was telling you?” she smiled.
“No, hang on, you are joking aren’t you?” I asked again.
“No, mum, you are the only person besides drunken idiots who has ever told me I’m beautiful or pretty and I know I’m not anyway so it doesn’t matter, I’m cool, I don’t need to be beautiful to feel worthy of life, it’s OK.” she smiled.
My heart broke, she meant it, she wasn’t joking. I know other people think she’s beautiful because they tell me. Someone else must have told her, surely. Maybe she just doesn’t remember. But after I’d overcome that sad feeling, that she couldn’t recall anyone ever telling her she is beautiful the real horror of what she said sunk in… she doesn’t think she’s beautiful. She doesn’t think she’s beautiful because no body validates that by telling her and her perception of herself is skewed as a result. Or maybe she is just too confident to even need to perceive herself as beautiful.
Does it matter what she thinks of herself? I asked myself this time and again, she seemed happy to feel that she’s not beautiful, she seems to think it’s not important to her life. Is this my problem? Is beautiful something I never felt and so it has such a big importance to me and really not of importance to her because everything else is right in her life? Should I want her to feel beautiful? Does she need to feel beautiful? All of this was coursing through my mind and I was missing out on what she was telling me about a rafting trip she’d been on.
“Does being beautiful matter to you?” I asked, interrupting her again.
“Muuuuuum, wake up, we’ve moved on. No, it doesn’t. I’d rather they thought I was honest, reliable, trustworthy and that I like to be listened to when I’m talking about something I did today.” she smiled and then made one of those chastising faces that I’ve only seen mothers make before.
“OK” I said “Carry on, I’m sorry”.
“No, because it’s not OK is it? I’ve made you sad, I can see. So please listen to me, I’m not bothered mum, I don’t need to feel beautiful and I think it’s sweet that you think I’m beautiful and thank you for telling me so my whole life. Now promise me you’ll forget this and not let it upset you, I don’t need validation, you made me better than that.” sitting up now, she tilted her head on the side and smiled. I smiled back. “Mum?.. ”
“We’re cool right?”
“Good, so I was in this raft with a girl called…”
I listened to the rest of her story and when we finished our Skype (by the way, thank the Lord for Skype, how I would cope without seeing that pretty little thing as often as I do I do not now) she told me she loved me and we did the camera kisses and she said “I love you mum, I love telling you about my adventures, don’t let me hear that you were upset about earlier or I’ll put you on a Skype ban for a week”.
I had a word with Nick about it and he said “kids are not like us Mich, different things matter to them, different things matter to young girls nowadays, my eldest is the same, she exactly the same, she’s confident without needing validation of how she appears physically, don’t try to think of her thinking the way you would have thought when you were 21, don’t imagine that what mattered to you matters so much to her, it’s totally different, girls are different, she’s happy and one day she will know she’s beautiful, right now it’s just not of importance to her.”
Should I listen to him? Hahahahaha, made myself laugh asking the blogging world that, he would be mighty impressed by that.
I’m wondering if he’s right in a way. I’m also wondering if she just doesn’t hear people say it to her because it is of no importance to her, or she’s never met anyone who she wanted to hear it from. I worry that I’ve made her feel ugly, but does not needing to feel beautiful mean the same thing as feeling ugly? I don’t think she feels ugly, no thinking of it, definitely she doesn’t feel ugly, she always says that ‘ugly is inside people’ and she knows she is a good person.
Rather than being a failure I think I’m maybe neurotic… I just don’t want her to feel ugly like I have all my life and it’s making me panic I think… wise blogging people put me straight, you know I like it when I’m told straight that I’m a loon and I value your opinions so much 😀 Oh and discussion point, do you think women have changed so much that different things matter to them about how they are perceived now to say in the 80’s when I was a teen/early twenties or have women just always wanted the same things?