My little Dinosaur is beautiful. She’s an amazingly precious looking child and that brings her a lot of attention. It seems like everyone loves a cute baby. So I hope you don’t misunderstand when I say that I don’t tell her very often that she is adorable. She hears this everywhere we go. Gas stations, grocery stores, conventions, the doctor’s office, a walk in the park … people comment on my daughter’s looks CONSTANTLY.
People that know Alice tell her that she is pretty. And determined. And driven. And hilarious. They know what she’s gone through. They see her change on a regular basis so they comment on more than just her appearance. Ever since I’ve noticed this, when I meet a new child, I’ve been making an effort to comment on things other than that child’s looks. I’ll tell a little girl that I’ve noticed how hard she’s been working on a project. I’ll tell a little boy that he’s polite and kind when he says please and thank you.
It’s not that I think complimenting a child’s appearance is wrong. I just don’t want the only compliments my child hears to be appearance based. And I think that we, as a society, tend to default to appearance-based compliments, especially for children and especially for little girls. So my husband and I make an effort to tell Alice that she’s more than beautiful. Why stop at appearance when there are so many amazing human qualities to choose from? Why not notice a child’s creativity? Why not his passion? Why not her confidence?
I don’t want “you’re so pretty” to be the only compliment my daughter hears. I want my daughter to know that she is brave for facing her fears head on and for jumping into challenges. If she falls, she gets right back up and tries again. That’s inspiring to see.
I want her to know that she is strong. In one year of life, she has already had to endure some intense moments and she took it all in stride. She didn’t let her need for open-heart surgery slow her down. If anything, she’s sped up.
I want her to know she is smart. She tries every day to learn something new and master a skill that she didn’t have before. She’s working everything out in that big brain of hers and if you watch her, just for a moment, you can see those split-second calculations being made.
Mostly, I want her to know that she is loved and that we are so proud of her. We will always be there for her. We will do everything that we can to support her and be a positive influence in her life. She may fall down. We might not always be there to catch her. But we will always be there to pick her up.