Friday, September 25, 2009


Curly had a rough day the other day. She said some boys made fun of her snack, then a teacher had a dog at school and she is afraid of dogs, so some kids called her a scaredy cat, then she lost her "Golden Ticket" at school, then some boy hit her "in the heart", then she stained her dress, then her brother punched her in the arm.

Let me say first that I believe that these things happened to my child. And I believe that she believes they happened the EXACT way she feels that they did. But I also know my daughter, and she has a flair for the dramatic. I was standing right there when her brother "punched" her. It was, at best, a tap and really, not even that. And the stained dress? That happened while she was hanging out with her Grammy, eating ice cream. Not exactly a Shakespearean tragedy.

Chances are the boys who made fun of her snack said "Cheese? That's a funny snack!" Or maybe "That's a stupid snack." I don't know. I packed a kick butt snack the next day and that took care of that. The Golden Ticket I can't fix. That is what it is.

The dog. Well, she is terribly afraid of dogs. She had a very scary encounter with a very scary dog a few years back and refused to go out the front door for a while after that. So while we work towards acclimating her to dogs, I understand her fear. I told her it's fine to be afraid of dogs, far better than too friendly with dogs and that those kids don't know what happened and why she is nervous and if it had happened to them, they'd be afraid too. And I know that she did this overly dramatic thing that she does, where she tucks her hands up under her chin and fake shakes her legs and quivers her lips and whimpers.

See, her drama is their weapon. That is the conclusion I came to after thinking about it for a while. She is giving them their fuel.

So later, I said this:

"Baby, let's pretend for a minute that I am a bad guy and you are a good guy. I want to fight you, just because I am mean and nasty, but I don't have any swords. You are a good guy and you have two swords just laying around and you aren't guarding them. What happens if I manage to take your sword? Are we going to be friends or am I going to fight you?"

She thought for only a second and said "You are going to fight me."

"That's right. Because I'm a baddie and that's what I do. So when you do things like show on the outside you are very, very afraid of dogs, that's like leaving your sword laying around. People who feel mean see how you feel and use it to fight you, even though you haven't done anything to them. Your feelings are their sword. And it's fine to feel how you feel, but sometimes it is better to pretend something doesn't bother you until you are safely at home and then you can tell me all about it. Sometimes it is better not to give them any weapons. Do you understand?"

"Yes." She said. "I will just look like this" and she made a face to show me how stoic she can look. "And then on the inside I will think that I don't like dogs."

"Perfect!" I said. "No swords!"

"No swords." she said and we laughed together and I think she understood.

The next day was better and she proudly announced when she came home that she'd "had a great day and NO swords were out."

That's my girl!

As for the boy who hit her in the heart, well, for all I know it was a missed high five or a game of Red Rover. I told her if it happened again she is to say loudly and firmly "GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!" and tell the nearest person in charge. She was worried that that would be considered tattling, but I told her it is not, as it involves her and it a BIG violation of school rules. But there hasn't been another incident and I really don't think there will be.

This is hard. Hard for her and for me. I don't want her to smush her feelings down inside, but I also want her to cut the drama. I want her to be confident in who she is without her inner actress shining through all the time. I guess only time will tell if I handled it okay. Only time will tell if the weapons I give her work to fight the baddies and the meanies that exist in all the schools, playgrounds and even workplaces in the world.

I hope so. I'm so thankful she feels she can talk to her mama and I hope she always knows that she can tell me everything. I will do my best to equip her to navigate her world.

Now, if someone could just equip me to navigate her world, I'd be really grateful.


  1. Tracy...beautiful job momma. All we can do is the best we know how to do.

  2. Sounds like we're living parallel lives a little - curly hair daughters with a flair for the dramatic - I've got one of those! And she also wears her heart on her sleeve and has been harassed for it. I'm going to remember your "sword" analogy should I need it in the future. The hardest thing has been to teach my daughter to control her emotions at school and stand up for herself. I think you are doing a great job with your advice to Curly.