A Kind Gesture That Mended One Broken Heart
They say it takes a village to raise a child. In recent years, this proverb has highlighted to me that it also takes a community, extended family, friends and even strangers to help us in times when we need it the most.
Parenting may come naturally to some, but to me it’s one of the most difficult things to get right. I’m forever trying different tactics, asking friends and family for advice, or engaging with teachers to understand my child’s behaviour and the dynamics of her environment when I’m not around.
I’m not afraid to admit that I’m fiercely protective of my daughter, Casey. I find it difficult to sit back and watch Casey struggle, especially in social settings. My first initial reaction is to shield her from any pain that might be inflicted upon her, yet I know that she needs to understand and grow in her own way and learn how to handle relationships – even at the tender age of four.
So what happens when I’m not around? Or if I’m in a situation that lends itself to one where socially I shouldn’t interject?
The last couple of month’s there have been numerous occasions that have stood out to me where I’ve watched others look after my child in a way that literally brought tears to my eyes. You know, that kind of support and love that someone else showers on your child as though they were an extension of themselves?
It’s a rare thing and I think we need to thank people more often than we do.
I wanted to share one of those stand out moments that took place just last week. It reminded me how one small gesture can mean so much to one person.
Here are one of those occasions where the kindness of just one person made a huge impact on both me and my child.
ONE BROKEN HEART
Casey lives for her Saturday dance class. Everything from her ballet get up to letting her little chubby legs fumble around on the dance floor and laughing with her dance mates gets her excited for this part of our weekly routine.
She’s a relatively confident kid. Casey will strike up a conversation with anyone, but if someone takes a shining to her then she’s more likely to make an effort with that particular person.
Cue her friend, Sarah*. Sarah and Casey have a tight friendship at dancing. That’s where they met last year and as the weeks went by they bonded. They always stand next to each other, hold hands, giggle and pull silly faces. It’s pretty damn cute to watch and I love the mischievousness between the two of them.
On Saturday, I watched Casey enter her dance class. All seemed normal… until Sarah’s new friend entered.
This took Casey by surprise, however, she assumed position as normal and went to stand by Sarah. I’m sure her internal dialogue would have gone along the lines of “Huh? A new girl? Hopefully that means I’ll have another friend in class.” At least that’s what I was hoping. Casey is used to playing with more than one friend, and I’ve always encouraged her to make new ones.
That’s when it all went pear shaped.
Casey went to hold hands with Sarah and Sarah had other ideas. She didn’t take Casey’s hand and instead grabbed the hand of her new friend and walked away – leaving a stunned Casey standing on her own. There was no more room for Casey in this tight knit duo.
I watched from the sidelines as Casey’s heart visibly broke in two. Her little smile diminished and I felt a tug in my chest as tears crept into the corner of my eyes.
Casey was devastated.
She wasn’t her usual bubbly self. She was quiet, withdrawn, and unhappy.
She looked over at Jono and I for comfort and we both smiled. We tried to show her from afar that everything was okay. I wanted to swoop in and envelop Casey in my arms, showering her with love and kisses to show her just how special she really is.
Both of us didn’t know what to expect. We were waiting for the waterworks – and rightly so. Casey had just faced possibly one of her first encounters of visible rejection. Rejection is always one of the toughest emotions to feel, yet watching your child bear the brunt of rejection is even tougher.
Then, as if intuitively understanding her pain, Casey’s beautiful dance teacher was right by her side. She held her hand. She cheered her on. She let her go to the front of the line and distracted her, enabling Casey to focus her energy and mind to the task at hand.
And it worked.
Casey danced her heart out, smiling, taking part in the routines and enjoying the class as she usually does.
The dance teacher kept checking in on her in a subtle way, so small that perhaps Casey didn’t notice – but I did. Such a simple gesture had such a massive impact on my child.
Compassion, understanding and love helped her to see past feelings of rejection and to enjoy the one activity she looks forward to every weekend.
Had it not been for this special dance teacher, I am sure Casey would have fumbled her way through class, unhappy, a bit broken, and confused.
That’s why I feel very lucky to have people care for my child and shower her with attention when it’s needed most.
There are countless people I’m grateful for that impact her life – her daycare teachers, my friends that treat her as though they are family, my family (and of course my husbands), even my colleagues that take the time to ask about how my little girl is doing.
Sometimes, it’s the smallest gestures and comments that have the greatest impact. Those moments are often the ones where a simple act of kindness or genuine compliment can turn around our day (if not year).
So to each and every person that has impacted my daughters life in a positive way – please know how eternally grateful I am for you and I hope that you know just how much I appreciate you.
*Names have been changed.