Me: (dying inside) Yes, babe, those are called wrinkles…
Josie: Why do you have those?
What I was thinking: I have those because of you and all of the sleepless nights and the stress that you cause me. And because I’m getting old and I didn’t inherit flawless skin and you won’t either, so there!
What I actually say: These are from laughing and smiling so much! You’ll have these someday, too, because you’re such a fun and joyful person!
When it paid off: A few weeks later, Josie ran to me and proudly pointed to the “stripes” she gets out of the corners of her eyes when she dons her biggest smile. “I have stripes because I’m such a happy girl!” Victory is mine.
The scene: My bathroom vanity, while applying 47 coats of mascara.
Josie: Why do you put make up on?
What I actually said (and instantly regretted): Because it makes me look pretty! (WHAT?!?!!!! Oh. My. Gosh. I just singlehandedly ruined my daughter for LIFE! I am Mother of the Year!)
What I said the next time she asked: See how my eyelashes are really light blonde? Well, I just LOVE how mascara turns them black because then it makes my eyes POP, and then I feel prettier.
The payoff: Josie giggles. Thank God, because I definitely don’t want to raise a daughter with self-esteem issues thinking she has to have make up on to be pretty! Help me, Jesus!
The scene: Josie is in the bathtub a few hours after her “cracked” front teeth were pulled. (You’ve got to read the full story here).
Me: (realizing she hasn’t seen her new gummy smile and thinks the dentist fixed her cracked teeth) Hey Josie, want to see your new, cool spaces? You look so cute!
What I was thinking: Remember how cute your smile was when you had front teeth? Oh gosh, I hope the kids don’t make fun of you when you get to school. I mean, you’re still cute, but remember how cute your smile was with teeth?
Josie: I do look cute!
When it paid off: The next day, and every other day after, when she shows her friends (or perfect strangers) her “spaces” and beams with pride, as she tells them how she tripped and fell on the sidewalk on the way into a baseball game.
It matters how we talk to our kids. Now, that may sound like it adds a lot of extra pressure, but don’t worry! If you ever say something you didn’t really mean or that came out wrong, revisit the subject with your tiny ones and explain. The important stuff will be talked about in continuous conversations anyway, and it’s good for our kids to see us make mistakes and own up to them.
When have you nailed it? When have you blown it? Share that story below, or drop me an email!