the one about ugly

I have read quite a few parenting blogs, articles, manuals, books, and brochures in my almost 5 years of motherhood. I feel like, by baby number 3, we finally have a teeny, tiny idea of what we are "doing" as parents. As in, we know how to keep them all fed, safe, and (relatively) clean at the same time. We know how to love them, discipline them, and make their eyes light up with joy. We are doing this parenting thing, and we aren't totally sucking at it.

But then Noelle dropped this bomb today.

"One of my friends said I was ugly."


I had to ask her to repeat it because I wasn't sure I heard it correctly the first time. In one quick second, my heart was breaking and my blood was boiling all at the same time. I frantically whipped through the repertoire of the aforementioned blogs, articles, manuals, books, and brochures I had stored in my brain…searching for something that would give me wisdom for this moment.

Sadly, I didn't have anything stored up for "when your child is called ugly for the first time."

I wanted to say the right things. I wanted to give her the proper advice.

I really wanted to just tell her that kids are jerks sometimes, but I figured I would save that for when she's 11 or something.

So, I took a deep breath and explained to her that sometimes people say things they don't mean out of anger or frustration or even boredom.

Or out of jerky-ness. 

(I didn't say that.)

And then I told her no less than 378 times that she was NOT ugly. She was beautiful. Inside and out. I made her come up with 5 beautiful things about herself.

Her list was as follows:

1. Her freckles. I love that her freckles were the first things she identified as beautiful. 

2. Her eyes.

3. Her hair.

4. Her smile.

5. Her strength and how she runs really fast.

I started to discuss the issue even further, but by then she was mouthing the words, ironically, to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" on the radio and bopping around to the beat, so I decided to save my Danny Tanner moment for another day.

In a way, having 3 girls scares me to death. I know that this is only the beginning of the hurt feelings, criticism, and self-doubt. I know that the years will amount to one big, long, crazy, twisted emotional roller coaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

In fact, the most common response when I say that I have 3 girls is some exasperated sound effect followed by, "Good luck with that!" or something of that nature.

So the entire world knows how hard it is going to be to raise these girls into kind and confident women, and today was just one of many "firsts" we will experience along the way.

This afternoon, she didn't need me to go on and on about how amazing she was, but someday she will, and maybe I will be a little more prepared for that moment and say something like this…

Ugly? Hmmm. Nope. You're not ugly. 

According to Webster, "ugly" means unpleasant to look at; unpleasant to hear; offensive and disgusting.

That is definitely not you.

The person who said that clearly does not understand the meaning of the word "ugly," given that he/she completely misused it. People tend to do that a lot-- use words, yet they have no idea the actual meaning. 

But my point is, you are not ugly. 

You are beautiful and gifted and brilliant. You are funny and entertaining and spunky. You are sweet and spirited and bold. You are creative and colorful and full of life. 

You are not ugly. 

Greed is ugly. Bragging is ugly. Murder and gossip and lying are ugly. 

You are not ugly.

The Colts losing to the New England Patriots is ugly.

But you are not ugly.

It is possible that the person who called you ugly might have had some sort of issue with you that they simply didn't know how to express, so he/she just picked a familiar, insulting word and threw it out blindly. It is quite possible that the person doesn't want to be your friend for one reason or another.

And that is OK. Because there are 7 billion people on this planet, you don't need to be friends with everyone. Everyone does not have to like you.

But just between you and me…I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who doesn't understand the meaning of the word 'ugly' anyway.

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