On Monday, as one of Kylie's teachers walked her to our car, she told me that she was concerned with the way that Kylie was holding her pencil. She recommended that we place a cotton ball under Kylie's ringer finger and pinky as she does her writing and coloring as a reminder to keep those fingers down and to not grip her pencil with them. I thanked her for noticing and for giving me the cotton ball idea.
And then I looked at Kylie who had settled into her carseat and had huge tears rolling down her face.
And I thought, "Ah...there is my darling, perfectionist, only child. She is freaking out about this."
It is so hard for little ones to express how they are feeling. But my guess is that Kylie was embarrassed that a teacher had made a comment (that wasn't a compliment) about her. She might have even thought she was "bad" because of it. Kylie wants to do everything perfectly. As a perfectionist only child myself, I could relate.
I gave her teacher another thank you and then swooped a big hug and kiss on Kylie with a very gentle whisper to her, "It's going to be ok. Really."
As we drove away (other cars waiting behind us), I gently asked Kylie, "Can you tell me why you are crying?" "What...the...teacher...told...you..."she gasped in big sobs. I reminded Kylie of a silly story. I wanted to get her laughing asap. "Kylie," I said. "Did you know that when you were little you sang the alphabet like this: "J,K, Elmo, Elmo, P?"
She grinned a little. So I sang the alphabet song again with the "elmo, elmo, P". Her smile widened. I sang it a third time and she sang it with me loudly, "Elmo, Elmo, P."
And I said, "And when you got to school you learned the correct way to sing it. Singing it the "elmo" way wasn't bad. In fact, it was funny. But it wasn't correct. So your teachers taught you to sing it the correct way."
I continued, "So when a teacher reminds you to hold your pencil a certain way...when that teacher tells Mommy about it too...it doesn't make you bad or wrong. It just means that a correction needs to be made."
She seemed to settle even more. "Tell me more stories about funny stuff I've done" she asked. And I did so for the rest of the drive home.
After dinner, Karen and Kylie went to Kylie's desk and practiced holding the pencil the correct way with a cotton ball under her fingers. I was in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner. The matter-of-fact yet extremely gentle way that Karen coached Kylie touched me. In fact, it brought tears to my eyes. And I thought, "Our little girl is going to be just fine". But before I went back to my dishes, I had to snap a quick picture.
It is a simple picture but I have to say that I love how the light hits Karen's relaxed and beautiful hands. Just a simple picture to help me remember this day.