The Girl with Wings

My youngest daughter is at that age when sometimes she doesn’t like herself very much. I asked her, how do you get good self esteem? She suspected her answer of getting lots of stuff wasn’t the one I wanted because what happens when the stuff is lost, old or broken? How do you learn to love yourself? She didn’t know. Interesting, as she has lived with me since she was 31/2 and obviously has not absorbed this lesson. I feel it’s in there but needs to be spoken out aloud.

Do I like me, I asked? Yes. Do I find myself amusing? Yes. Do I love me? Yes. How come? Looking at me, how is it I love me? She didn’t know. I’ll tell you the answer I told her at the end of the story.

Let me tell you a story

There was once two parents who longed for a child. When one came to them at long last, they thought she was perfect. She lit up when they came in the room, laughed, cried, played, was joyous, sad and occasionally cranky. Just perfect.

Their family wasn’t so sure. They had noticed larger than expected shoulder blades and mentioned them to the new parents, out of concern for the child. The parents assured them that they would buy or make clothes to accommodate her. Muttering the relatives withdrew.

As the baby grew into toddler, she staggered and tumbled, laughed and cried, sang and spoke her first words to her parents’ delight. The neighbours and friends noticed that the child’s pronounced shoulder blades appeared to be developing a covering of what looked like downy feathers. As good friends they felt duty bound to point this out and suggested depilatory creams for the removal of the offending feathers. The parents laughed and said they were soft to touch and exactly where their child could be stroked into sleep.

The child grew and the blades grew with her. First at kindergarten, then at school, she ran and played, leapt and tumbled, sang and shouted, learnt and danced with all the other children. The downy covering slowly spread down her back and across her shoulders. Her friends often stroked the feathers that ran down her arms for their softness and comfort. The parents were approached by the teachers and the school council about covering up the feathers, demanding she wore long sleeves. The parents simply chuckled and said, in a hot country like ours, she’d be too hot.

By the time the girl was twelve her wings had unfolded. She could run and leap, tumble and dance, spin with wings outstretched. Her friends would laugh and try to catch her, running with arms wide. The children’s parents complained to each other, local businesses, the local Councillors, and the Member of Parliament. They complained until a public meeting was held and worked each other to fever pitch, making a decision to demand that the parents of the girl stop this right now! Together they formed a foaming furious posse of people and marched across town to the house of the parents of the girl with wings.

A spokes person was pushed forward to bang on the front door and the parents answered it. Their daughter squeezed past them to look at the towns people and wave at her friends. The spokes person gathered their fury and sputtered and yelled, what were they thinking of a daughter with wings? What were they doing? How could it be in her best interest? What did they have planned for her future?

The parents looked at the townspeople and across at their daughter, who smiled and spread her glorious wings. Well, said the parents, we were thinking of teaching her how to fly.

and that is the end of the story.

What was my answer to my daughter about how you love yourself? You decide. Then, you practice, until you can fly.

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