Cheers to the Five-Year-Old

As parents, we are given the arduous task of teaching and guiding our children. This is a huge feat. Most of us feel like we could be doing better, that we should be doing better, and, that sometimes, even our best isn’t good enough.

However, this journey isn’t a one-way street.

Over the last five years, I have found myself learning countless lessons from my daughter.

At five-years-old, she has instantly morphed from my baby to my little girl. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened.

While our precious ‘Fivenagers’ can be challenging, make us want to scream, and drive us to drink copious amounts of wine; they are actually pretty extraordinary.

So, here are my top five cheers in celebration of the five-year-olds:

  1. Fashion 101.

Plaid? Stripes? Polka dots? Every colour of the rainbow? Check, check, check and check. I love how my daughter rocks the kaleidoscope she refers to as an outfit. She is confident and proud in her choices. She isn’t bothered in any way by what anybody else thinks.

This seemingly simple feat of choosing something from the drawer that expresses her individuality and personality is an amazing accomplishment.

 Cheers, five-year-old, for making your own choices and for standing proud in those choices!

  1. Say anything. Ask anything.

Their internal filter isn’t fully developed yet. However, it does improve each year, which is worth celebrating!

Five-year-olds are incredibly inquisitive, which means many questions. SO MANY QUESTIONS. And, they are fiercely determined. If they want to know something, they won’t stop until the answer is found. This can be frustrating. However, these questions can also lead to thought provoking, and interesting conversations.

Five-year-olds say it like it is. Sometimes my daughter’s innocent honesty makes me cringe: but, I am learning to appreciate these teachable and learning moments.

Cheers, five-year-old, for finding your voice, and using it to learn and discover the world!

  1. Livin’ the life.

These wondrous creatures love life. Fully and whole-heartedly. Every morning my daughter wakes up with a smile on her face, ready to conquer the world. There isn’t enough coffee on the world to bring me back to that place.

At five-years-old, her journey is a blank slate. Each day my daughter’s little feet make their mark in this world, and she finds simple joy with every step.

Cheers, five-year-old, for living life to the fullest!

      4.  Anything you can do, I can do better.

This one can be the biggest challenge. The independence craved by five-year-olds is insurmountable. For parents, it can often mean gritted teeth, lessons in patience, and staying calm, cool, and collected (or at least try!). However, it is through this desire for independence that they are able to discover who they are.

Five-year-olds are paving their path to individuality by experiencing accomplishments, and they take tremendous pride in each, and every success.

 Cheers, five-year-old, for becoming an independent, proud, and successful person!

  1. Big love.

Five-year-olds are full of kindness, acceptance, and open mindedness. Every person who crosses his or her path is seen as an opportunity to make a friend or learn something new.

They don’t judge. 

They aren’t cruel. 

Kindness is learned; and so far, they seem to be soaking up this lesson. 

The world could learn a tremendous lesson in love and kindness from the innocence of children.

Cheers, five-year-old, to your innocent, awesome and giant heart.

 

Embrace the lessons from your five-year-old. Each passing year is an opportunity to learn and grow alongside them.

These cheer-worthy moments help us through the times we would much rather forget, let alone celebrate.

One day my ‘fivenager’ will be an actual teenager; asking for the keys to the car.

I’m not sure there is enough wine to prepare for that moment.

So, for now, I will simply raise a glass, and say…

 “Cheers to all the extraordinary five-year-olds!”

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I Like Me…

While perusing the Internet I came across this article, “Neck contouring is the ridiculous beauty trend taking Instagram by storm.” My first reaction was to laugh. There was no way this was real. It had to be a joke.

My next reaction was complete dismay. I soon realized that this is indeed happening. No joke. Women are contouring their necks to ensure it looks slim and perfect. This is a thing.

Is this what I have to look forward to when my daughter is a teenager?

Making sure her neck is perfectly contoured?

Because raising a daughter isn’t hard enough…

A few days ago my daughter was getting dressed. She came out of her bedroom with less velocity than usual. The expression on her face spoke volumes.

“What’s the matter, my love?” I asked her.

“I don’t know,” she replied quietly. “I just don’t feel good in this outfit.”

Then, the words I didn’t think I would hear from her mouth for at least another ten years escaped off her sweet, innocent lips.

“I think I look fat.”

I stood. Dumbfounded.

Her words fell heavy onto my heart.

I wanted to cry.

In fact, I’m certain I hastily wiped a few away as they fled my eyes.

I quickly thought to myself, I could simply brush this off. At five-years-old, she is easily distracted.

But, I stopped myself.

Something had triggered this moment. A voice in her mind was speaking to her. Ugly words had infiltrated her joyful heart. Her always-present smile was replaced with a furrowed brow. I motioned for her to sit beside me. As she nestled her warm body into the curves of mine, I asked her if she knew what the word, fat, meant. She told me she didn’t really understand what it meant. She heard a girl on a show ask another girl if the outfit she was wearing made her look fat.

I looked at her. My beautiful little girl. My delightful little girl. My insightful little girl. My talented little girl.

I snuggled her in close to me.

“I want you to always remember something,” I told her. “You are amazing. Inside and out. Always remember to be you. No matter what.”

“I know that, Mama!” she replied. “I like me!” With those three words, she was gone.

A fleeting moment for her; a lasting moment for me.

I sat and watched her play.

I began to question what I had done, or hadn’t done.

I began to pick apart every word I had possibly said, or hadn’t said.

I began to doubt everything I had done, and everything I wasn’t doing.

That’s the curse with being a mom. In an instant we doubt everything we have done. We quickly blame ourselves. I know my little girl doesn’t think she is fat. She heard it on television; and, like so many other words, she repeated it back. However, that doesn’t make the moment less important. It doesn’t make hearing her say that word any easier. She is a product of her environment. She sees everything. She hears everything. She internalizes everything. As her parents, my husband and I can instill all the self-worth in the world. But, in an instant, it can be broken. I hope we can build a solid foundation that will take a bulldozer to crack. But, I can’t predict the hits to come.

I can’t protect her from the harsh words. I can’t protect her from the venomous stings. I can’t be her shield at all times. As much as I desperately want to be.

What can I do?

I can keep building the foundation. Piece by piece. Brick by brick. I can keep talking to her. Even when it’s uncomfortable. I want her to always feel like she can come to me. I can keep telling her how wonderful and amazing she is. I can reassure her that being you is the most important thing in the world. I can encourage her to surround herself with kindhearted, supportive, and encouraging friends. People who will build her up rather than try to tear her down.

I can do all these things, but they are not foolproof. Nothing is.

Her feelings will be hurt. Tears will be spilled. Heartache will ensue.

My mind knows all of this. But, my heart can’t help but ache at the thought of it all.

My biggest hope is for her to remember those three words she said to me on this particular day.

I like me.

I think we can all learn from these wise words from my five-year-old.

Say it to yourself today.

I like me.

I have started doing it, and it feels good.

I like me.

Let’s join together in an I like me movement.

Let’s make an oath right here, right now–that we will never contour our necks. Ever.

I like me.

And, I like my neck just the way it is.

 

AVREY