This seemed like a good moment to stop rehearsal for just a sec...
I told her "You have a sweet, soft voice" and then I explained to all my darlings sitting around the "stage" that this was a safe space. That I knew they heard all sorts of negative things but in this space we were going to affirm and empower ourselves. Realizing that some of the littler darlings were looking at me in quizzical fashion, I took it down a level and explained "Be nice to ourselves and others" I told them that Ms Jasmine and I had picked them for the role they were in because out of everyone that auditioned, for whatever reason, we felt they were the best ones to play the part. That we knew they could do it. That they were going to be awesome. And that they were not going to ruin the experience for themselves by constantly thinking negatively about themselves.
The kids all smiled. The parents clapped, whooped and raised the roof. Two rehearsals later my little bird told one of my bigger birds who was mad at herself for messing up that she needed to remember to be nice to herself.
This, you guys! This! So many things I love all wrapped up into what was, to be honest, three minutes of my life tops. I was ecstatic. I was freaking so happy! And then the voice in my head that never shuts up spoke up...
"Now, if you just practice what you preach."
Do you know where our little lovelies learn to be mean to themselves? And before you say school (which admittedly is a huge factor), think about what your kids hear you say when you look in the mirror, before you go out the door, as you look at the menu. All the Mamas who were clapping and lifting their hands want their kids to feel good about themselves but do they feel good about themselves?
I mean, I get it. I hate my feet (wide, flat and horrible toes), my nose (my Mom once jokingly told me God forgot to give me a nose so He took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it on my face. And I have never forgotten that! Geez!), the fact that I'm overweight...
The list could go on. Shopping for a dress is a nightmare....shopping for jeans...okay, let's be real...shopping for anything but books leaves me so depressed I need a bowl of ice cream and a movie I can cry over to make myself feel better. I haven't shopped for a bathing suit in over five years. If we go swimming, I wear shorts and a tank top.
And then my 19 year old daughter comes downstairs in a bathing suit looking curvaceous and gorgeous and just WAY too dang grown and I am smiling at her and may or may not have a tear in my eye because of the amazing young lady that is before my eyes. And it takes me ten minutes to convince her she looks beautiful and even then she may have agreed with me just to shut me up.
You guys...this amazingly beautiful girl needs my help to go out in public in a bathing suit! What the what?!
One day I was baby sitting a rising second grader...a 2nd grader...and she turned down ice cream because she "needed to be on a diet". (This girl is about as big around as my arm ya'll.) And so we talked...and she'd heard her Mom say that she needed to be on a diet and for some reason decided she must be overweight too. (Mom isn't much bigger than my arm either...just for the record).
Our children hear us. They see us. And if we want them to go out into the world believing in themselves and feeling good about themselves and being confident in themselves...then we have to teach them. And this is no "do as I say not as I do" business. More like monkey see, monkey do (You guys, I am always going to have a little of the Head Start Teacher in me). We have to practice what we preach. To teach our children to believe in themselves, we have to believe in ourselves.