I could have said any of the following:
"You did great!"
"I believe in you…"
"How do you think you did?"
"You did great…if you want to try again just prepare, practice, and you'll rock it!"
"I love you…I'm here to help you succeed".
But nope. I blurted out "You're better than that".
I could see it stung instantly. I quickly said, "Sorry, that was a bad thing to say". Without hesitation, she responded…."Yes, it was".
It more than stung, it wounded her. In an instant, 6 months (or 17 years) of encouragement, support, guidance, and advice cut down by 4 words.
It was in the middle of a room waiting for a college tour…she had commented on her ACT score…which was already above what most get, and the paper she was showing me listed a range…she just finished saying that even with her off-the-charts GPA she thought about taking the ACT test again, and for some reason, my inner Neanderthal said…
"I agree. You're Better Than That".
It's been a few days, and I think we're OK, but I can't stop thinking about it.
- She IS better than that…she is not just a score on some standardized test.
- She has proven herself over and over that she has grit to get great results.
- Her personality, attitude, what she's overcome shows me she is definitely better than a stupid remark suggesting her identity is labeled with a single score
- I am better than that. I KNOW how to support and respect and encourage and challenge my kids, and I know this phrase is only hurtful. I should say this phrase as a reprimand for myself
- Oh, and my multi-year sadness of finding purpose and value in my life in vain should tell me that test results, scores, and all the other "people pleasing" I thrive on is NOT the key to a joy-filled life.
So what do I do?
Think before I speak…learn from my failures…
And possibly turn the phrase into a mission statement my Ladies can grow from…
"You are better than that...that single measurement…in fact, no matter how you are measured…for school, work, society, friends, lovers…you are better than any small measurement. You are so much more. You are a gift…a unique creation…and while school and work need to create measurements that are common across all that want to participate, you need to realize your uniqueness is special and can't be measured. No one will have the same journey as you…the same observations…the same successes, failures…and no one will experience this world in the same way as you. Embrace this, explore your uniqueness, learn what interests you, challenge yourself…create something new every day. Wake up each morning with a passion to improve yourself in some small way each day… Make the phrase, "I'm Better Than This" a war cry … that in the next 18 hours, you will improve yourself… Make this a self-fulfilling prophecy: You will be a better version of you at 10pm than you were at 6am...on December 31st than you were on January 1st...at age 58 than you were at 48"
In the end, I hope she knows I love hear dearly, I would do anything for her, and that I am greatly flawed. I asked for forgiveness, and she gave me forgiveness. Maybe with the mission statement above I can also give her a perspective she can use for years to come.