You are amazing just as you are

My 4 year old daughter wears hearing aids and goes to speech therapy twice a week to "catch up" with her vocabulary, sounds and word formation.  I often forget she even wears the aids because she's otherwise "normal" and is a very bright girl.  People who meet her don't notice right away either, and are usually surprised when I mention that she wears hearing aids or has a moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears.

We treat her as a normal kid, send her to a normal preschool, and love her like a normal human being ;).  It's not difficult.  She's a doll!

This morning she furrows her brow a bit and says to me, "My friends at school talk really good, just like YOU, Mama!"  I bent down to her level and asked her what she meant by that.  "My friends say I don't know how to talk..."  My heart lurched.  This is only the second time she's ever mentioned feeling different among her peers.  The first time was when she started school this year and came home and told me her friends thought she couldn't hear; and even then she thought it was funny and didn't seem to really mind much.  But every time this happens, I can't help but wonder if she'll start to question herself, is she good enough, is it weird that she has hearing aids and can't speak as well as her classmates, does it make her less smart or is it embarrassing when she has to ask someone to repeat themselves...  She's just a kid, so she's not thinking all these things yet.  But as her mom, I feel like this is an awesome opportunity to start the conversation and to cut this off before it starts.

I smiled at her and shook my head.  "I think you speak really well!  You've been working really hard with your speech teacher and I always know what you're saying!"  She nodded, but stayed pensive.  "You know how you can draw really well--better than a lot of the kids in your class?  Well, everyone has a special thing they're really good at, and some kids in your class may talk a bit better than you and others may run faster or jump higher.  But you don't EVER listen to people who try and tell you what you can or can't do.  You're amazing just as you are, right?"

She smiled and hugged me.  I saw her spark come back and I felt like I'd finally done something right.  It doesn't matter that the house is a mess, or that I bought a giant container of Goldfish crackers for snacks this week instead of grapes and organic whatever, or that I almost totally forgot about Easter baskets.  I can't always protect her, but my daughter became a little stronger in that moment and learned to love herself a little more.  I'll take that over all the rest.

What do you do when your kids' self esteem waivers?  Do you brush it off or stop everything and make sure you explain to them how amazing they are?  Especially my special needs parent friends... I KNOW we see the beauty in our kids, but how do we make sure THEY see it and walk around this world with a strong mind and empathetic heart?

I'd love to hear your comments!

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