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The Right Words at the Right Time

by Elisa All

Have you ever had one of those moments when you had to search for the right thing to say to your child? They happen when you least expect them to, and cause a mad mental scramble. You know what I’m talking about: the time the dog ate the baby bunnies in the back yard, the time a classmate chose to sit with a new “best friend” at lunch, or the moment the first doubt crept in about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Nearly all kids go through these things – and most of us remember them from our own youth.

Now that we’re parents, we realize that as much as we may try to prepare ourselves to respond in these situations, they always seem to take us off guard anyway. Then there we are, in the moment, searching for the words that will make everything better.

While saying the right thing at the right time may be written into a parent’s job description, it’s not necessarily something you’d think a child would consider. That’s why I’m surprised each time it’s one of my kids who steps in to make me feel better. One recent moment in particular comes to mind.

My twin daughters, Cassie and Jules, turned 9 recently. The thought that my “babies” have less than one year left in single digits made it a bittersweet birthday for me as their mother. Perhaps I was feeling their “little girl-ness” slipping away on the day in question.

In typical Monday morning fashion, we were dashing around the house collecting homework, lunches and backpacks for school. Without fail, Cassie ran up to me with her hairbrush and ponytail holders in hand, ready to be coiffed.

I take pride in brushing and securing their hair so it stays neat all day. As much as having the extra five minutes to get organized would help, I would trade it every time for “hair duty.”

With Cassie’s hair done, Jules should have been waiting impatiently for her turn. Instead, she was nowhere to be found. I went downstairs and found her putting on her boots, hair neatly brushed and pulled back in a headband.

It was one of those moments you’re not prepared for. Something had changed. She looked different to me: a new hairstyle, certainly, but more than that. She looked a little more grown up. I swallowed the lump in my throat.

“You’re all ready, Jules?” I asked.

“Yes, Mom,” she replied, not even looking up.

“You did your hair by yourself?” I asked, stating the obvious.

“Yes, Mom,” she replied again.

Oh, I thought. Wow.

Silence, while I considered this. Hearing nothing, she looked up at me.

“Are you OK, Mom?” she asked, concerned.

Was I OK? My daughter had just done her hair by herself, and had done a darn nice job. Truth be told, her hair looked every bit as good as if I had done it myself. So how did I feel about that?

“I guess you don’t need me anymore,” I said, with a weak smile.

She grinned back at me and shook her head.

“Oh, Mom,” she replied, with the wisdom of all 9 years. “Don’t you know I will always need you?”

The right words at the right time. Thank you for making me feel better.

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