I watched my four-year-old leave school today with her snack bag and a shattered heart. Her preschool asked each child to bring in a flower, say something nice about one person in their life (parent, teacher, grandparent, friend or anyone else) and donate it to the group table.
Yesterday, when we picked out the flower, I was happy that Babyface had chosen her teacher, because I didn’t want her to make any of the other kids feel left out. It was a great decision, I thought. Unfortunately, in trying to avoid hurting other kids, Babyface ended up feeling left out. By being thoughtful, she wasn’t thought of.
As she entered the car, I noticed that she was forcing a smile. “Sweetie, how was school today? Did you have fun?” I asked.
“Well, I gave my flower to the teacher, but everyone else gave their flowers to other kids and no one picked me. That really hurt my feelings. That really made me sad,” she replied.
This is where I was thankful that I was wearing sunglasses, so she couldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes. I cleared my throat, so she couldn’t hear the shake in my voice. All the while, she remained composed and didn’t cry, but the sadness in her eyes was worse than a major meltdown.
She was simply mature about expressing her feelings and it made me realize that this time things were different. This truly affected her. Mind you, Babyface doesn’t really cry unless she’s tired or sick, but she doesn’t express herself this clearly, either.
I composed myself quickly and explained that I had six other flowers at home for her, feeling glad that I had bought a bouquet at the local grocery store. I also informed her that we would go out for sandwiches and chocolate milk and she was always Mommy’s #1 girl. This shifted her expression from sad to happy and she quickly told me about the rest of her day.
The event sat in my mind for most of the day. Every now and then I would shed a few tears in the toilet room. I felt angry with the school for making share day feel like a team picking sport, where she was the last one standing. I felt angry that I didn’t send her with two flowers and let her donate one from Mommy to the table, in her honor. I felt angry that I even let her go to school today. I should have just kept her at home, I thought.
As I sat on the couch with my thoughts racing, I noticed that Babyface was playing happily with her Legos. She turned to me and said, “I love you, Mommy.” She’s four, so she’s still at the age where she says those three little words to me all of the time.
At that moment, I realized that she had handled the situation maturely. She didn’t get into the car and ball her eyes out, after school. She expressed that she was hurt, we discussed it and, when she realized Mommy and Daddy would always love her, she moved on.
There I was, sitting on the couch, trying to figure out how I would reprimand the teacher for making her feel sad, when I realized that she was handling the situation more maturely than me. I realized that my daughter was teaching me a life lesson.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to have a little chat with her teacher and be diplomatic, of course (no F-bombs), but I realized how well adjusted my child is. I don’t want Babyface to ever feel like she’s not special. In our family, she’s the first team pick and I will never let her forget it.