At my daughter’s school, the children’s behavior is monitored daily by a stoplight inspired grading system. If you’ve behaved yourself , you get on a green status. If you received a warning, its yellow. And a bad choice will get you to red status and probably get you sent to a principal’s waiting room, or maybe that’s just what I remember. But the most insipid of all is the purple. Because that represents better than good behavior and it’s all my daughter seems to want. To be the good girl.
When she’s at school, she thinks she needs to make sure that she is liked and fits in so no one votes her off the island. But the minute she’s off the bus and in my company, she let’s it all hang out mostly to our mutual detriment. Six-year-olds are immense people-pleasers and they are also control freaks. So she is trying to get a purple so hard everyday that I think it’s sending her over the edge when she doesn’t get it.
So this morning, after another night and day of not so stellar choices and listening, we missed our bus for the first time ever. And as I drove her to school, I started to realize and discuss with her how striving for that purple might be messing with her. And that perhaps, she could just go ahead and be the sweet kind and helpful little gal that she always is and that when she was rewarded with the purple as she often seems to be especially on Fridays, she could be surprised and happy.
“Teach her to reject likeability.
Her job is not to make herself likeable,
her job is to be her full self…”
–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie–
The Good Girl programming is a little pervasive and creepy. That we as girls are taught to be mindful of others’ expectations and needs instead of rewarded for being kind people and taking care of ourselves in marvelous caring ways, is just society’s flaw. But let us as parents try to counteract these expectations by encouraging them to be proud of just who they are and not what they do. And to care for themselves with the same compassion and effort as they are asked to give to others.
Purple is a beautiful color to earn. Especially if you can enjoy it just because it is the way life made you and your day based on the choices you made with integrity and joy.
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