Monday, July 10, 2017

A gift for my daughter

I could see her eyes watching me and soaking in my every move. I would watch her mimic my words, my mannerisms and even my way of thinking. She was my little shadow for so many years, silently learning how to face the world.

And I that is where I failed her. At the time, I didn't understand the importance of being her role model. Honestly, I didn't think twice about it, I actually didn't think of it at all. I just assumed that I was enough for her to learn how to thrive in the world, and I never expected for her to be my mirror.

To make a long story short, my seven year old daughter has been bullied on and off by various kids at school for the past two years. Mostly by little girls who see her kindness as a weak point and then they use it to either bully or manipulate her.

In the beginning, I was mad at the world. How could these little girls be so mean, I would ask myself over and over again. First it was a classmate, then it was someone in another class and then it was a little girl at after school...the list could go on, but I soon realized they all had one thing in common: my daughter.

Each time she would tell me what happened, I would watch her the flower that was once her self-confidence shrivel and barely cling to life. She then learned to put on a brave face when telling me, but I recognized the sadness behind the smile.  And at once I could only see a life-long struggle she had ahead of herself in desperate search for self-love and confidence.

It was up to me to break the cycle. I tried everything I could to learn how to prevent this fate. I read books on teaching girls self-confidence, I said all the right things and I even pretended I was someone else in front of her, someone she could look up to.

But it was all in vane. And it was time I gave her the only gift I could give her, a true role model. Someone she could really learn from. Someone who I wanted my daughter to be like. Someone self-confident, smart, beautiful from the inside, and most importantly kind with a twist of sass: My sister!

My sister is a 26 year old ball of sass and sweetness rolled into one. "Don't mess with the Jess". That's her motto and trust me she means business. When I think of self-confidence, I can only see my little sister. She knows who she is and she doesn't care what the world thinks, she is who she is and she is proud of it! She is who I wanna be when I grow up! And someone I want my daughter to be like when she grows up.

So this weekend, when my daughter was crying from frustration from being bullied/manipulated by a "friend", I asked her, "What do you think Aunt Jessie would say to your friend". And that's how it started.

We began to imagine Jessie speaking to the girl and I watched my daughter transform into a self -confident, witty little Jessie-twin I knew she could be. I watched her eyes sparkle as we talked about how Aunt Jessie would solve the problem.

I told her that the next time she gets in such a situation to remember: WWJD? What Would Jessie Do. We turned it into a game and spent the rest of the day repeating WWJD giving ourselves permission to be confident.

And that was my gift: my daughter now has a role model.