We often try to teach our children lessons, forgetting the lessons kids can teach us if we pay attention! Here is a story about what my daughter taught me about sensitivity.
One particular week this past summer was jam-packed with trips to the park, cleaning up tiny footprints of dirt brought in from the constant inside and outside movement, balancing work obligations, and the other daily responsibilities tossed in between. All the chaos gave me the perfect excuse to introduce my kids to a new TV show. Both my children have a love for music, so I quickly introduced them to The Wiggles show, knowing it would be a big hit. And it was.
Immediately, my daughter took to the only female character – Emma. She loved that Emmas was a dancer and liked the glasses she wore. To show her love and dedication, Evelyn chose to wear her sunglasses as “glasses” and added them as a permanent accessory for both indoor and outdoor wear. She was devoted to these sunglasses despite their scratches and fingerprints that made the transparency of the sunglasses only a memory.
One afternoon spent at my grandparent’s house, she took off the glasses and in the busyness of the hugs, kisses, and goodbyes, she forgot to grab them before we headed home. Halfway through our drive while she was daydreaming about dancing and wearing giant yellow bows in her hair like Emma, she quickly realized she was missing something–her glasses. After tears cried, extra cuddles before bed, and a phone call to her Mamaw, her glasses were promptly sent through USPS the next day along with a handwritten letter.
Something to know about my sweet Evelyn is that she loves mail. Her eyes grew three times their normal size and her heart swelled with excitement! The envelope was ripped open without a second thought, but she carefully pulled the contents out as if they were fragile treasures worth more in value than anything else she has owned. I read the letter aloud and her response surprised me…she immediately let go of her overworn sunglasses, and she tenderly grasped the letter.
“Read it again mommy! That’s from Mamaw? She sent it to me?”
And I read it again. And again. And again.
She then began taking this letter everywhere she went. She tucked it in her backpack for school, relocated it to her purse when she arrived home, and she even slept with it at night. The letter became crinkled, torn, and smudged, but she knew the value was in the words she memorized–not in the appearance.
To my daughter, scratched glasses and torn letters are like beautiful jewels because they represent people she loves. Sure, Emma is a make believe character, but Evelyn relates to her because she helped nurture her love for dance and rocked awesome hair accessories. Evelyn’s Mamaw is special to her because she lets Evelyn go at her own pace and observe the details around her that most overlook. They share a love that’s safe and comfortable.
My daughter is a sensitive being that I met with intimidation. I thought my little girl needed to develop a strong and tough demeanor to survive in this world. I had predicted a rough road for her full of hurt and disappointment. One where she would turn into broken pieces on the floor while I laid down beside her trying to put her back together with a type of glue that would make her stronger this time around–unable to break. But the problem with my mindset is that I dismissed the value in sentiment that is such a natural part of who she is.
Deep care for people causes her to develop this dedicated loyalty that most don’t see today. We are all afraid of getting hurt, so we nail up walls around us and huddle inside screaming phrases that make us seem strong…
“I’m fine! I got this.”
“I don’t care what other’s think about me.”
“Everything’s going to be just fine!”
But Evelyn is one of those few people who embraces her sensitivity that is so often mistaken as “weakness.” She is a soft place for people to land who need to be real and raw with their brokenness because she cares about the little things that they have to offer — even if it’s just a short letter of affection.
What she has taught me is to spend as much time on my sensitivity as my strength.
I’m going to let myself get attached to ideas like she does characters because of what they represent.
When someone sends me a piece of her heart, I’m going to cradle it gently, familiarize myself with it, and not be so quick to move onto the next thing.
I’m going to notice the man in the mall that she once pointed out saying, “Is he feeling sad, mommy?” and I’ll try to make his day.
When an elderly woman in a wheelchair is sitting in the security line at the airport, I’m going to offer help like my daughter offered to hold the lady’s hand during her wait.
Instead of bypassing pain, I’m going to step into it and feel it – fully.
Sensitivity has lost it’s appeal because society thinks we must trade it in for power. But my daughter is one of the most powerful people I know. And I want to be like her.