Thursday, May 7, 2009
Have you ever watched The Kid? It's a Disney movie with Bruce Willis. Basically it's premise is that somehow, Willis' younger self comes to stay with him because he needs to learn something...
I saw this movie years ago, and recently caught it on TV. It was one of those things you start watching as you're flossing, and getting to bed and end up finishing the whole movie. I remember remarking to my husband that Willis' character was so mean to his kid-self. I told him that if I had the chance to spend time with my kid-self I'd want to comfort her for all the challenges she was facing, would face. I was painfully shy, awkward and had incredibly low, self-esteem growing up. I didn't feel loved, I felt picked on at home and at school - it was pretty crappy. There were good moments... but overall - it was a difficult chapter in my life.
And then... I took my daughter Avant Garde Girl to a five-year old birthday party. The girl who's birthday it was had never played with my daughter - the two girls are in the same class in Primary - but had never had the chance to get to know each other. We went because the party was at a gymnastics studio - and AGG loves gymnastics. Plus, the two girls would be in kindergarten next year, so I thought we might as well get better acquainted.
We arrived at the studio 15 minutes late. My daughter refused to go on the mat with all the other kids. She started to panic. She then told me she didn't want to go out there because she didn't think the other kids liked her. I responded by telling her she wasn't giving them a chance to, by standing there. One of the kids, who was older, told my daughter she'd hold her hand, despite this my daughter still stayed in her shell. I asked my daughter if she wanted to leave. She didn't. But she didn't want to go out with the other kids either. This was odd for me because AGG is normally so outgoing, friendly and cheerful. I began to feel frustrated.
Finally the gymnastics instructor took my daughter by the hand and led her to the group. There my daughter stuck like glue to the teacher. It seemed like AGG started loosen up and move around - but then she burst into tears. I carried her off the mat. Eventually she rejoined the group during the cupcake, snack, gift time. She was the kid that helped the mother put the gifts in the bag after they'd been opened. When the instructor announced that she'd let all the kids go back on the mat with all the gymnastic equipment they all cheered in excitement. My daughter burst into tears.
Apparently, they were too loud for her.
I was, I am ashamed to say - mortified.
I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so unsympathetic.
On the ride home - after she had gotten her goodie bag I thought about the day. I thought about how she acted so differently. I thought about how similar she was that day to the little girl I was. Then it hit me... I'm still not okay with that sad, little girl I was. I suddenly understood how true-to-life the way Willis acted towards his younger self was for me.
I have worked so hard at not being that quiet, shy, inept, self-conscious girl...but I've forgotten to love the kid I was. Perhaps, my oldest daughter, who has so much of me in her - is my chance, when she has these 'bouts of shyness, it's my chance to empathize, and love the little girl I was.