Wednesday, September 05, 2007


As they ambled up the slope to the restaurant, it was apparent the toddler was new to the concept of walking unaided, holding her mother's hand for security. From behind, her small body was obscured by a lavender backpack that bounced, as if bobbing on waves, with every step. This carryall obscured her frame from heels to head, and was adorned with a joyful smiling purple pony. Above the daypack was a forest of thick, dark brown hair, fashioned into a spout. Below were matching purple pony sneakers that lit up with each footfall.

The path before her held no interest. I - on the other hand - following behind was deserving of intense scrutiny. Her backward glances, coupled with forward movement, and yet-untuned walking skills came together. The result was she tripped and tumbled forward, catching herself before her small face made contact with the floor.

Since I was close enough to be the catalyst to this potentially traumatic event, I couldn't help but overhear the mother's reaction, as she spun and lowered herself to the youngster's level.

"Wow, honey, you're amazing! You caught yourself so quickly! What strong arms you have! You are so athletic!"

Turning to her other daughter, she continued, "Did you see how quickly Jesse reacted? Isn't she wonderful? I am so blessed that I have two incredible daughters with so much talent and grace. What an amazing day this is! Tonight's meal will be a celebration of my children."

She brushed off Jesse's clothing, embraced both daughters (took Jesse's hand), and the threesome disappeared into the eatery.

Aside from wanting to hug this prize-winning mother for instilling such fantastic and life-affirming attitudes, my initial reaction was a reminder of the power of words.

How often have we been unwitting victim, forced to endure overhearing the painful tirade of a parent with lesser skills berating a youngster for a mistake? My soul cries for that child's future; it is bleak.

Yet, equally true - and infinitely more optimistic - is the empowered and unlimited tomorrows to be enjoyed by these sisters upon reaching womanhood. It is as assured as the fact that Jesse loves purple ponies.

What we say matters more than we realize. It affects what we feel, which determines what we do; in effect, carving out - word by word - the path of our lives. Not only is it vital what we say to our children, and to each other, but also equally as critical what we verbalize to ourselves.

When was the last time you referred to yourself as "amazing?" Jesse would tell you that you are.

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