“But I thought I was bad.” My seven year-old Harper remarked, when I recently shared an adorable video of her two-year-old self.
I looked right at her and said, “You are phenomenal. You always have been”
And she burst into tears.
I wrote this blog 5 years ago, but somewhere along the way, the message was lost.
My beautiful, seven-year old has been carrying the shame of being a difficult toddler, explaining why these last couple of years she has been our best listener and the most helpful.
She’s trying to right her “wrongs”.
Cue my broken heart.
I gently explained that we all experience times in our life that are more difficult than others but that doesn’t make us inherently “bad”. I’ve made it a point to share photo and video after video of her smiling and laughing, illustrating what a joyous child she has always been.
“It’s time we rewrite the story in your mind about the kind of kid you were.”
And we carry on.
A few years ago, I returned to my elementary school and visited my art teacher, a woman I deeply admired then and still do, now. I teased, “I know I was difficult.” She tilted her head and looked at me genuinely perplexed. After a momentary pause, she responded, “Lauren, I never thought you were difficult. I thought you were extraordinary. Sweet, fun and smart.” I returned the tilted-head, genuinely-perplexed-look because all I ever remembered hearing about my childhood was how “difficult” I was. To be remembered for all positive attributes was truly astonishing and it forced me to rethink the way I had always described myself as a child: difficult, prone to emotional outbursts and epic temper-tantrums.
It’s not as if these things weren’t true. They were. I was often-times angry as a child. So angry that I would bite my arms to release the tension. So angry, my mother…
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