“I could do no more,” my daughter muttered in annoyance.” Bobby insists on wearing that old green checker shirt with red striped pants everywhere we go. That’s an awkward match, so embarrassing! And why are you laughing?”
True, I could not help to laugh as I flashed back to a time thirty years before when it was this daughter of mine, Sally who was embarrassing me.
That was when Sally began kindergarten and wanted to select what to wear to school every day. Honestly telling you, it was literally a battle each and every morning. She wanted to wear zigzag blouse with polka dot pants, oh I didn’t even want to mention about the funny colors. So, I forced her to wear the clothes I had matched for her perfectly, which resulted in only endless tears and drama. She would leave the school wearing like a beautiful princess but with a frown on her round face. Of course, I did not find myself happy neither.
So, this went on like clockwork every morning. I hated to send Sally to school feeling upset, but I still did anyway. Would her friends’ parents think I had an awkward sense of fashion? Or I didn’t get her prepared for school? Or would her teachers think I am a whatever mother? I admit that I was just too care about what others would think, or say about her dressing rather than my daughter’s pure happiness of making her own choice. Luckily, Sally’s class teacher managed to change my old way.
On the Parents’ Day, I was having a chat with her class teacher, Miss Leena about Sally’s performance in the class. I learned from her that Sally wasn’t able to pay attention in the class when the teachers were teaching, especially in the morning. She seemed to be sad and disturbed. Regretfully, I told Miss Leena about our morning struggles over what she should wear to school and how she should wear it the “normal way”.
Smiling, Miss Leena advised me that as long as Sally was dressed appropriately for the weather, I should let her decide what to wear whatever she liked, even with a pair of reversed pants or socks. That were the exact examples she gave, I burst into laughter, to that extend! She asked me to stop worrying about others’ perceptions and opinions. ” Let her go to school contented and ready to learn new things. Parents can choose when to have a power struggle, right?”
I bore her words in mind and started to let Sally choose whatever she loved. Though I frequently “quiver with fear” when she came out of her room showing off her zigzag and polka dots, but this time around, something was different, she was wearing a big Garfield smile. The positive impact was immediate. Miss Leena saw significant improvement in her previously poor grades and new found passion in learning. Me? I had a good mood to start each day, no more sour mornings. Such a simple change, yet it made a big difference to both off us.
” Sally, let me tell you what a smart teacher once told me,” I said.
As I watched my little grandson run around the house happily dressed in green checker shirt and red striped pants, I noticed that Sally was smiling at me meaningfully. We didn’t have to say anything. No wonder, someone said that mothers and daughters are closest when the daughters become mothers. True enough.
Adapted from “Polka Dots and Stripes” from “Raising Great Kids: Inspiring Stories about Sharing Values from Generation to Generation,” copyright “2015” by “Carol Emmons Hartsoe,” Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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