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Trust the Girls

Categories: Best Practices, Fighting the Stereotype


This is the simple part: Late afternoon: crossing a parking lot, hand in hand.

She was telling me a story. Something had happened. Somebody hadn’t behaved well, at school. She’d cried, a little, she said. Then, she was able to stop crying, all on her own. Well, maybe with a little help from her friend with the pretty accent, she said, but not much help, really.

Then she said something else, one of her beautiful something elses that drop from the sky every day, shimmering, and vanish forever. The days rush in and out so violently, the moments are gone as they happen. I would change it if I could. But it’s not mine to change. Our memories choose themselves. One can write things down, but it’s still a ruse. There’s no way to catch a something else from a child, pin it behind glass.

You do the best you can.

The beautiful something else occurred just as she’d finished her story and hopped out of its bounds. She was commenting on her story, what she thought it all meant: her “takeaway,” as boring grownups like to say, sometimes.

She thought this, and that, and a little of this.

I listened. Then, out of habit, I tried to come up with a good, teachable this or that of my own. Another way the situation could have worked out. Something else she might have done. Something she might want to squirrel away, for next time.

We mamas get into that habit, after all.

But something stopped me, this time.

She’d already come up with this, and that, and a little of this, all on her own.

Two words. That’s all I needed, for today.

I squeezed her hand. “You’re right,” I said.

She nodded. She knew she was right. But I could tell she liked that I’d noted it, that I’d taken the path less traveled by grownups, who do so like to go on, long after the point’s already been made.

She was right, even her mommy said so.

As we headed into the building where her sister was waiting for us, I realized that “you’re right” is plenty enough, plenty more often than I’m using it now.

She and her sister are, in fact, plenty right, plenty of the time. They are bright, loving girls with keen judgment. They’ve listened. They’ve paid attention. They trust themselves, most of the time, to do the best they can.

They’re right. They are wholly, wonderfully right, without being self-righteous. I love this about them. It’s time for me to pay attention to this. They are just right.

It is right for me now to listen more, comment less. It’s time for me to make more room for the something elses, so they can touch down. Hear more, say less: maybe the something elses will even take root, stay a little while longer.

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2 comments so far...

  • Thank you for this Jenn….I need to do the same thing. My boys are now 6 & 7. This post is going to cause me to pause, and listen more, before I offer my mama thoughts. They need more “you’re right”s in our conversations. I have to work on that.

    nono  |  April 8th, 2011 at 11:36 pm

  • I too am learning this lesson. My older daughter recently wanted to tell me something but only if I promised not to say anything at the end, not to offer up any suggestions. She just needed me to listen.

    JEn  |  April 9th, 2011 at 5:51 pm