June 12, 2012

endless possibilities

Last weekend was a busy one, complete with lots of face time on both sides of the family.  Not only did this make for an occupied (and the thoroughly exhausted) two-year-old at the end of it all, but it also left a bunch of offhand comments ringing in my head ...

Nothing bad, necessarily.

Nothing even all that memorable.

Harmless, probably, to anyone else besides me ...  The (sometimes) over-thinker.

I guess I should just come out and say that, thanks to an array of childhood/adolescent development and psychology classes, I dislike when people project various expectations on my children, benign as they may be ... 

I don't want Malcolm or Pearl to be saddled with labels.

The smart one.

The crazy one.

The active one.

The shy one.

While, at face value, none of these things are bad, I want my kids to see (and know) that they can be whomever they want to be. 

They can be smart, and crazy, and active, and shy if they want to.

There is no "either/or" involved.

I don't want them to hear something about their sibling, and by default, think that it can't possibly apply to them, too.  But, I guess I come by these feelings honestly ...

Coming from a family with three daughters, I don't think I was ever referred to as "pretty" when I was growing up (at least not excessively). I was skinny, freckled, bespectacled, and something of a tomboy. My hair was always on the shorter side, certainly not long and flowing like my middle sister's hair (the one who got the "pretty" label).  I didn't care, though, I somehow had it in my head that I was pretty anyway and, even better, I was smart. That word, smart, would probably be the one I'd throw out there if a psychologist asked me to pick a word to describe myself (pretty would be at the end of the list), but I'd also venture a guess that that's what I heard the most of growing up ...

"Look at Emily, lost in that book. She's such a smart girl."

"Ask Em. I'm sure she'd know the answer to that."

"Emily is getting straight A's again this quarter."

Most compliments from my parents and/or other adults revolved around my brain ...  And while that's just fine (I like being perceived as smart!), I find it very interesting that it's embedded itself into my thinking on into adulthood. When with my sisters, I never feel like the "pretty one." I'm a little more self-conscious and end up secretly wishing I had cooler, more trendy clothes and/or accessories and a better hair cut.

I'm just Emily, the frumpy (but very smart) one.

Which, isn't bad ...  But isn't the whole picture, either!

I truly, truly hope that Malcolm and Pearl do not fall into the same trap and sell themselves short because of what (often well-meaning) people say.  I want them to grow up knowing that they can be whatever they want to be, liking and doing the things that they want to do ... 

They are still so young, with endless possibilities spread out before them. 

I don't want any of those possibilities to disappear before they even have a chance to explore them ...  Especially because of a few offhand comments.

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