Friday, August 22, 2014

On Strength

Today my middle child, a very spirited little girl, remembered when a waitress called her naughty a year ago. She said, "she called me naughty I think, because I was wearing the Hayah uniform." The situation was that my daughter answered the waitress when she asked her questions, and she did not shy away like most 6 year olds do.
What stood out to me was that my daughter still remembers being called naughty by this random stranger. She also remembers, as she rejects a piece of cake, when people jokingly pat her cute little girl's tummy and say she has a "kirsh".
Since I started learning about child psychology during my undergraduate years and as I started the journey of motherhood, one of the most recurring piece of advice was to be careful what you call your child. Comments, labels and observations shape these  young minds and affect them in ways we may not comprehend.
The truth is human beings are heavily influenced by what people call them. I did not think that a waitress calling my daughter naughty would lead her to think she is naughty. The reality is my daughter has been called naughty and annoying so many times by so many different people that she once told me, "I am annoying, that is who I am, everyone thinks so, so deal with it." As her mother I heard the pain that came with that seemingly strong comment.
Children's minds are constantly working as they skim through all the talk they come across throughout their days. Struggling to understand who they are, they search for cues from people around them. What I realize from experience is how difficult it is to unsay what people around the child are calling them.
There is so little you can protect your children from.
She is an interesting personality. She exudes a false strength which causes more and more people to openly pass their judgements on her thinking they are harmless because she is so strong.
 Strong people often get the short end of the stick. They become easy marks as the general public seems to think they are unfazed by what people think. As a result they are bombarded by other people's thoughts and opinions. They find themselves unwillingly striving to live up to society's expectations. They are forced to think they are strong and should be unfazed. They are forced to accept people calling them naughty and "ghelsa" (annoying) then are expected to put up a strong "I don't care face" when in reality they may be screaming inside.
It is harsh to think of all of this happening inside a 7 year old's mind and her life. The reality is we are all 7 year olds as we face this world. When you deal with people you are forced to filter what they say and what they think of you. That filter can only get filled with so many words and expectations. The next time you see a person who is "strong", at any age, remember their filter and make sure that what you say does not clog that person's filter. 

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