Last Friday Anna went to a children's museum some 45 minutes away from, for a field trip with her first grade class. As always (I had trouble sleeping the night before, and) I had a talk with her about general safety and what was acceptable and unacceptable.
Did I happen to mention that I am neurotic? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the nightmare I had the night before about Anna coming home from the museum and telling us that a stranger had harmed her.
Anyway... this is the talk we always have when she will be away from us, or when we go anywhere that is a good distance away from home, especially if there will be a lot of people.
I can't help but be this way because I know what dangers lurk around every corner. For me , as a child, they lurked in the very corners of my own home and I guess this makes me a little over protective. I know that when she gets a bit older I will have to trust that I have taught her as best as I could, and send her on her way with a few "gentle" reminders. ;)
Just as she walked out of the door for school, I said a prayer for her and her class. I asked that God keep them all safe from... "them", the sick and twisted people that live just to hurt children. I prayed that they be surrounded by so many angels that they would be invisible to "them".
The day went by very slowly for me, but Anna did eventually come home. I asked her happily, after giving her a hug, how the day went. We sat down on the couch together to snuggle.
"Well, I didn't... It wasn't very much...'" she sputtered as she teared up. "I-," She began as she turned away from me in embarrassment.
"Anna, it's ok... calm down. You don't have to be embarrassed, you can tell me anything. Remember how many times I have told you the embarrassing things that have happened to me?" Anna nodded, slowly turning towards me as I put my arm around her. "You can always talk to mommy and daddy, no matter how embarrassing or upsetting it may be. Even if you are in big trouble, please always talk to us about it. OK?"
She nodded again. "I didn't have a very good time at the museum," she said as she choked back tears," I was home sick."
I breathed a sigh of relief. "It's OK, I think most kids are a bit nervous on their first field trip that far away from home. You didn't have fun at all?"
She settled in and relaxed against me,"No, not until we went outside to play on the museum play ground."
"That's OK," I said as I patted her," At least you had a little fun."
"Well, I had fun buying my mood ring too," she smiled up at me.
We sat for awhile , snuggling while watching the Food Network. I had a sudden realization that usually in our world being sensitive was viewed as having a weakness. How many times have we heard ourselves or someone else say to their child " Stop being such a baby"? "Stop being a drama queen" or "grow up"? I can't count how many times my own mother made me feel like I was less than human for crying or being sad over something she had said or done to me.
"You know Anna... feeling this way isn't a bad thing. I mean being sensitive or the fact that you were feeling home sick. It just means that you feel things deeply." I thought about all of the thousands of times she seemed to have overreacted, or played the "drama queen" over the span of her 7 years and smiled. There was no middle ground with this girl for the most part. She experienced things at the highest highs and the lowest lows, and I smiled again to myself.
I gave her another squeeze, "You are one of the strongest people I have ever met. You're smart, beautiful, funny... you're like a diamond. You know how a diamond has little cuts in it? Those are called facets. Each one of your facets- or the little things about you, including being sensitive- make up the whole you... a beautiful little diamond."
She looked up at me and lit up with such a brilliance that words fail to adequately describe it.
Being sensitive and feeling things deeply isn't anymore flawed than a diamond that is pink or canary yellow. Those diamonds are actually valued more for their rarity and color.
I choose to see my girl for the rare and priceless gem that she is.