Do you want to hear something strange?
Right now, Eva doesn’t have any idea what it is to be uncool. Think about that for a second. She can’t fathom anyone finding her less than fabulous. All of her jokes are funny. All of her outfits are stunning. All of her drawings are beautiful and all of her stories are enchanting. This is the charm of childhood when it’s just you and your parents and your grandparents and an audience of stuffed animals…this perfect bubble of “yes, you are, aren’t you?”
There’s a whole science of why this bubble messes up our children. Telling them over and over again that they are wonderful has been scientifically proven to create kids who aren’t prepared for the harsh reality of the world and who can’t handle criticism or take direction. In theory, my entire generation fell prey to parents who believed we were wonderful and now we’re self-obsessed narcissists who abandon law careers to write long blogs about our life. (No? Just me?)
I will say this: I don’t think it’s good for children to believe that they can do no wrong. I don’t think it’s good for them to believe that they are better than all other children. But I want our kids to believe in their core that they own a fantasticness of spirit that nobody else has. That each person walks around with unimaginable gifts. That every story (yours, mine, theirs, whatever) is powerful and doesn’t deserve to be muted by those who would tell us that we are uncool or unworthy or less than smart or less than lovely. It is a tall order to cultivate this joie de vivre while simultaneously making your kid understand that they are not the only one who gets to have it, but isn’t that better than hoping our kids will fall in line and fade into the background and not stir up anything that might draw attention?
I’m off to Alt Summer this week and in my flurry of outfit planning and business card making, I’ve been struggling with my own sense of self. There’s a part of me that tends to want to fade into the background, especially when I feel a little muted by how much success will be in attendance at this conference. I start trying to figure out which outfit is just the right amount of pretty to fit in but not so over-the-top as to draw too much attention. I don’t want to look plain, but I don’t want to look silly. Don’t want to be ignored, but I don’t want to stand out. I study past conference photos and browse Pinterest galleries and Google things like, “how old too old for tulle?”
And then Eva waltzes in and she looks ridiculous fantastic and she is so joyful in her own skin that I find my most comfortable clothes and my love-it-so-much-I’ve-had-it-forever jewelry and that’s that. For this week, I can channel a bit of the person I hope we’re raising and wear my Carlyness to the parties where that the lovely people attending will be decked out in their own happy souls. Because, love and joy and glitter, people. Love and joy and glitter.
Have a great week!