I heard yelling from downstairs. The kind of yelling sisters do at each other when they taunt and push each others buttons. I walked downstairs to see a familiar scene. My oldest (9 years old) upset and in tears and my youngest (7 years old) making her breakfast (doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing…as usual and totally trying to show up her sister and acting like she did absolutely nothing). Mad and very upset at Tricia (my oldest) began to yell and get more and more upset while she tried to tell me what her little sister had done.
“This is not something we get this upset about T. You need to go upstairs and calm down,” I told her.
“It’s ok. Go calm down. It’s not over. We will talk about what happen but you need to calm down first,” I let her know and she went upstairs to calm down (not happily but upstairs).
Ten or so minutes passed and I went upstairs to check on her.
“How we doing?…. Calm? “
“Yes, momma,” she smiled.
“So tell me what happened downstairs.”
“I had picked my show. You told me it was my turn. I started to make my breakfast. While I was making my breakfast SHE took the remote and turned on what SHE wanted to watch. Then SHE wouldn’t give me back the remote,” Tricia told me.
“Ok. Lets go downstairs and tell her how you feel. Tell her you don’t like what she did!” I encouraged her.
“Oooookkkkkayyy Mommy,” she answered me not 100% sure what she had just agreed she was going to to or completely believing that she was up for what I had just proposed.
We walked downstairs and the TV remote was laying on the couch next to where Annabeth stood.
“Tricia, go get the remote,” I whispered.
“Get the remote,” I nodded and looked toward the remote to reassure her.
She went to take the remote.
Her sister went to grab it to. Suddenly the remote was in Tricia’s hand. She paused and starred at in awww….awww that she had won the grab off and paused in stunned disbelief. As instantly as she paused in oh my gawd I beat her in the grab awwww, she looked at me with “I did it! Stunning Awwww” smile and off she went running around the downstairs and into the kitchen, and around the living room and remote in hand as her not happy little sister chased after her.
“AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Tricia yelled at her sister as the both fought tug of war style over the remote. Tricia’s eyes connected with me screaming silently, “Ok Mommy I grabbed it. Now what the heck do I do!”
Not breaking eye contact with her, “You took…” I said words to start her off.
“You took the remote from me when I was making my breakfast!!” she said loudly to her sister. She looked at me for more words.
“That wasn’t…” I helped again.
“That wasn’t nice. It was my turn to watch….” and she went on to tell her sister what she really thought.
Suddenly, with each word, each opinion, each feeling and thought she shared out loud with her sister her chest began to puff up. It was an energy in her I had never seen or felt with her. As she finished telling her sister she what she felt and thought, she paused.
In that moment I saw a moment wash over her.
In this moment she had learned the power of her opinion. She discovered the power of telling someone else about how their actions made her feel. She unlocked the power of her words to tell someone what they did was not ok with her. She revealed the power of telling someone what she wanted.
It was in that moment I suddenly made my own discovery.
When I became a mother I always knew I wanted to raise well behaved children. I wanted to raise children who followed directions, were respectful, polite, happy and kind. As I have grown as a parent and as a person I have learned that there are other traits and qualities I want my daughters to embrace and posses as adults….resilience, unwavering problem solving abilities, a risk takers spirit, creators and a dreamers ambition.
In this moment I realized something brand new!
I realized that polite, respectful, thoughtful, kind, independent, risk taking, problem solving daughters that I wanted to raise was not enough. I learned, in this moment, this new lesson would be one of the most important skills I would strive to help my daughters posses. I want daughters who also didn’t hold back for fear conflict. I want daughters who embrace the power of their words and their opinion. I want daughter who share their thoughts and words confidently, thoughtfully and kindly with others without fear or hesitation. I want their feeling, opinions and thoughts not just to be had but to be shared because …they matter, their voice matters, their feelings matter and their opinions matter!!!
I was inspired to share this moment with my daughters by Galit Breen’s Why I’m Not Raising a Good Girl and Pernille Ripp’s All Hail the Kids. Thank you both of you for your words and for inspiring me to tell mine too!