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It’s tough at times, this parenting lark. Words your child says which don’t mean what she means literally can break me, but you have to hold it together.

Yesterday she was pushed over by another child at school – it was an accident, these things happen. On the palm of her hand was some grit which had worked its way in. I tried to look at it to see if I could clean it, but she wouldn’t let me near it, too terrified of what might happen.

She was pretty tired too. When she wailed in despair

“my horrible useless body”

I had one of those moments of fear. She didn’t mean it in the same way she might if she was ten years older, and the only reason she said it was due to the grit in her hand (that’s perspective there). But still, hearing my four year old declaring her body to be horrible and useless hit a nerve. I have awful self esteem issues and I’m over conscious whenever she mentions anything to do with her body, so keen to keep her thinking she’s beautiful, normal and not horrible or useless in any way.

Because she’s a lovely perfect little girl. Every night I tell her this when she’s awake and again when she’s asleep. Sometimes she answers me in her sleep, and I like to think I’m making her think positive things in her dreams.

Then I have that moment of self-doubt. What if by telling her she’s lovely and perfect and beautiful (all truthful facts, quite frankly) I’m doing the extreme of someone telling her she’s horrible or useless? Maybe I should keep it to “Mummy’s Best Girl” ; which still sounds like the kind of thing my mum or dad said to the dogs.

She broke me last night. The tiredness and sadness and despair from her as we trundle on for one more week before Easter holidays start, mixed with tiredness from our busy lives and the fact I needed to use tweezers to try and get out the grit in her hand meant it didn’t work. That and just trying to keep her hand still was a task in itself. But it was those words “my horrible useless body” which broke me the most. The translation in her world is “the grit won’t come out”. To me it just sounds like myself.