“Mom! Jaylah is disrespecting property!”
It was seemingly the twentieth fight of the morning, but this one sounded like something real since it directly violated Rule #2: Respect People and Property.
He continued on, detailing her destruction as I stood up from working on the headboard that I desperately wanted to finish today.
I walked inside and saw her sitting beside the scene of the crime, “Hey Boog, what’s going on?”
She rolled her eyes and looked away, crossing her arms and sticking her chin out as far as she could.
“Jaylah, we should talk about this. If you’re not ready, you need to go to your bed until you are.”
One thing she learned well from her favorite movie is an icy glare. It was more frozen than, well, the movie itself.
“You can walk or I can carry you, babe. You choose.”
She walked to her bed and crawled under the covers, completely hidden from view.
“I’ll come talk to you in a few minutes.”
I took a mom time-out. The property she had destroyed was custom made for her. It had taken a tremendous amount of time and effort. I had to remind myself that it was just stuff and the lesson was going to be the important thing here.
I walked back to her room. “Are you ready to talk?”
She peered out from under the covers with one watery eye and I discerned a almost invisible nod.
I sat on the end of the bed, scooting her onto my lap. She was still doing her best to look away, so I slipped one hand under both of hers and stroked her hair with the other while I waited for eye contact.
Finally, after what felt like an hour, she looked up.
“You realize you broke Rule #2, right?”
“Why did you do that? I made that special, just for you. Why would you want to destroy it? I just don’t understand.” I tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible.
I wanted to tell her it hurt my feelings. I wanted her to know that I had plans for it, plans where she gave it to her daughter, detailing how her mom had made it for her. I wanted it all to be about me. My hurt. My pain. My loss.
But it wasn’t about me. It was about this precious little girl who will someday have to face the big, bad world on her own. It was about preparing her for that.
Big, fat, crocodile tears now. Her voice shook as she gripped my hand a little tighter. “I didn’t think it would matter mom. It’s mine.”
My heart broke a little as I started to explain. “Baby, you have to respect yourself and your property. You have to know how to take care of things. You are just as important as anyone else and you have to treat yourself with as much, if not more, respect than you treat others. You matter. You are valuable. And so are the things you care about. But you have to set that standard and know that first. Do you understand that?”
I lifted her chin up so I could see her whole face. She nodded again. “I’m so sorry mommy.”
“Baby, tell yourself sorry. You hurt you by ruining your stuff, right?”
She nodded again, a bit stronger now. “I’m sorry self.”
Oh my heart. If only I had heard those words a few weeks or years ago. How easy it is to forget…
I’m sorry self.
How many times have I forgotten that very thing? How many times have I settled for second, or worse, destroyed something valuable to me, compromised my values, been untrue to myself because it was “just me”?
How many times have I hidden the hurt or acted out of my insecurities and spent days, weeks, months, regretting the very thing that I thought would make me feel better in the moment?
I’m sorry self.
I’m sorry for treating you as less than. I’m sorry for not showing you the respect you deserve and desire. I’m sorry that I’ve given you the impression that you are unworthy. I’m sorry for settling.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone has a memory or two that they would rather forget. And that’s okay.
You’re still worth it. You’re still valuable. You are made for more. So take the time to remind yourself of your worth. Take pride in your accomplishments. And don’t ever, ever let anyone treat you badly. Especially yourself.