There seems to be much concern in the parenting community at large about kids’ self esteem. It’s important, it’s fragile, and we need to carefully consider what we can do to nurture it. To those concerned with such things, I present Raphael.
This morning, after many rounds of, “No, you may not watch TV/play with that puzzle/walk the dog/have another breakfast/conquer Italy, right now you NEED TO GET DRESSED,” Raphael FINALLY broke down and actually put on clothes. He came marching up to me and stood with his feet planted widely, his belly pushed roundly out. He stuck both fists on his hips and waited for me to appreciate his victory.
“Oh, you got dressed! Good job, Raphi!” He nodded emphatically and patted his belly.
“An’ Ah am soooooo handsome!”
“Yes, honey, you’re very handsome.”
“YES AH AM.”
Later I was putting something away in the kitchen when Max came up to me, threw his arms around my waist, and said, “Mama, YOU’RE THE BEST.”
No, really, he did. It’s sort of a game we play.
“No, honey, YOU’RE THE BEST!” I replied.
“No, YOU ARE!”
“No, YOU ARE!”
Raphael, on his way through, shot over his shoulder,
“No, Ah am the best. Now stop it.”
I was sitting on the floor, picking up some books, when Raphael spied a puzzle on the other side of me that he wanted. He strode over to it, never mind that his path took him across my outstretched legs. One foot came solidly down on my thigh, causing the muscle to shift under the weight of his stomp. I twisted instinctively out from under THE PAIN, causing Raphi to stumble. He fell to his knees, where he turned to me, his face contorted with disbelief.
“YOO DARE?” He howled. I rubbed my thigh and looked at him, at a loss for words. Uh, yeah, kid. I dare.
Self esteem is not Raphael’s issue. He esteems himself very highly, thank you very much, as well he should. My fond hope for him is to learn a little Other Esteem.