Friday, January 23, 2009

I'll Send You Her Therapy Bills

I've noticed a trend lately when folks lay eyes on my four children together. It usually goes something like this:

Person: (gushing) "Oh, wow! Look at that -- red hair?! Oh my! Two? Three? You have THREE children with red hair? That is so unique and they are so beautiful! You know that, right? Just darling!"

Me: "Yes. Thank you! All of my children are awesome in their own ways."

Person then turns gaze towards H, and then in a less exuberant voice: "Hi there, H! Darling curls! You must look just like your mom!"

Me: "Um...yeah. She does have some of J's best features. Don't you love her darling curls and gorgeous brown eyes?! I always wanted to have brown eyes."
That's it. Just great. Folks tell us how pretty the red hair is, and then totally leave out that part when pointing out H's appearance. My poor beautiful child! Rarely does anyone remember to compliment her after seeing the other children's red hair. Seriously, while I would never emphasize a need for beauty in order to be successful (as a mother of three daughters, I really want to be a part of killing the stereotype that women need to focus on beauty), I worry that if this trend continues it might begin to affect H when she's older and understands any inadvertently inferred connotations.

I know that I would start to feel inadequate if someone close to me was constantly praised for her beauty while I was given a passing remark about a family resemblance. Even with constant self-esteem building, it might be enough to put a dent into an armor of confidence.

Often any comparison between E or G and H is said without as much... excitement? or as if there's another message hidden underneath? I can't be sure. Maybe I'm totally reading into something that is more shallow than I thought.

Either way, if H looks like her mom, that is a good thing! H sports a lovely olive skin tone that will keep her from burning in the sun, unlike me and the other wee ones -- who look out a sunny window and turn pink. It's possible she'll keep her mom's curls, too.

Hopefully these specific conversations will fade away as H gets older and people are more careful with their words, as we all are with other adults. And despite who looks like who, all of the children will continue to be valued at home for their personalities and accomplishments. In our house there is no "step" sister - just three girls and one boy who are treasured because of who they are in total. HRB, I love you (and E, G, D) with all of my heart. You guys are the biggest blessings God could have ever given me.

No comments: