When I peel back through my parents’ photo albums, there is a common theme…pages and pages of me posing, trying on my new school clothes, smiling in an exaggerated fashion to prove how cheerful I was. I loved being the center of attention. I needed the attention. It was my life source.
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER
Fast forward 20 years. I am now an adult with a career and a home and a husband (and am severely embarrassed by my neediness as a child). Enter my daughter, Cecelia. From the moment she was born, Cecelia had an audience in us, her mom and dad. She is totally her mother’s daughter. Now I get to see what my parents experienced. And, let me tell you, it is such an amazingly entertaining show.
I was always the kid who would talk to anyone. I remember standing in line at Disney World and asking, “Who farted?” in the middle of a crowd. That was me, unafraid to say whatever came to mind. I danced all around the living room to the “Lion King” soundtrack. I would sneak my mother’s lipstick and tell the baby sitter I ate a sucker in the bathroom. Now my daughter provides me with an abundance of good stories. Coming from someone who lived a childhood hungry for affection and an audience, I see what she’s doing. And I may be biased, but Cecelia is crushing it.
CLAP YOUR HANDS
Cecelia is direct. Where I would ask my parents if they thought my jokes were funny, she flat out says, “Laugh.” When I would say things like “Ta da!” she announces, “That makes you happy.” She gets it. She is her own cheerleader, and she is unafraid to tell you what she needs. In the car the other day, Cecelia sang the ABCs, then immediately directed my husband and me to “clap your hands.” And, you know what? We clapped.
Adults could learn a little something from this 2-year-old. It is OK to toot your own horn. It’s hard for us to be direct. We say things like, “Do you like that idea?” or “Maybe it won’t work. I don’t know, I just thought
I would propose it.” My 2-year-old doesn’t beat around the bush. She does her very best, then instructs you how to react. And if we didn’t clap, it wouldn’t faze her. She would sing again and instruct her audience to clap. I’m happy that I have played a part in developing her self-esteem and her bravery to safely speak her mind.
I’LL ALWAYS BE YOUR BIGGEST FAN
Becoming a mother was the most terrifying and joyful decision that ever fell into my lap. I have an opportunity to teach someone not to pick her nose, encourage her to sit on the potty and help her realize that pattern-matching is important when dressing. I am also her own personal audience. Her father and I are so in love, we would watch whatever she was doing, and we love the confidence she has. I hope we never do anything to tarnish that confidence. A 2-year-old walks through life with a sense of wonderment. They do their best, or they tell you they’re worried they can’t do it. They put themselves out there in hopes that their actions can make someone happy. And, they usually do.
My daughter reminds me that even the ABCs can be quality afternoon entertainment. She reminds me to stop and smell the roses. She reminds me of myself, and we connect on a whole other level. She needs someone to support her as she tries things, and I will always be that person. Not just for the funny little stories, but because I understand her. And, I always clap my hands for her.
Kathryn Lenn is available for any extra attention you want to throw her way.