NOTE: You can hear this on NPR via MP3 HERE.
Oh friends, it MATTERS! What a Father says to a child. I still remember being six or eight or something around there (My brain is getting feebler in my old age: harrumph!) and I exclaimed about something and my Dad said “Oh boy Heather, You have sharp eyes!”
I have sharp eyes.
I have carried that silly little moment all my life. It is meaningful to me, even thought my Dad is effusive in his praise of me. It isn’t like I never heard a compliment and so I clung to that one. It was just something that sat well in my little child heart.
So I say it to my daughter Portia. Probably once. And I hear her compliment herself ever after, “Yes! I have sharp eyes!” I am charmed to hear her repeat it to herself. Pleased that my daughter is learning to love herself like I did as a child.
I wonder what truths I will call into Libby’s life just by observing her, complimenting her.
I realize the power of every word I speak because I cannot control which ones will stand out for these little folks. I think about the book/movie “The Help” and how the maid speaks to the daughter she cares for who is painfully overlooked by her parents. She says to her “You is good, you is kind, you is important!” every day. She kneels down in front of her to speak these truths into her little child heart...hoping they will matter.
This morning as my Dad fixes fruit with the little girls and has them feed him his vitamins(which I think is oddly wrong but I am impressed that my four year old can identify red yeast rice tablet vs. a multivitamin...) and they drop one. They cannot find it.
“What color is it?” I ask Dad.
“A light reddish brown.” My Dad replies,laughing because that is the same color as the kitchen rugs. I spy it and point it out to them after they have begun searching, crawling on the floor with a flashlight. “Good eyes, Heather!” my Father says to me. And I just have to write it all down. I have to share this little moment that means everything to me as a daughter and then again as a mother. The words matter.
What words impacted you as a child? What words do you use now?