There's this student.
Let's call her D.
On the first day of school, I could tell she was probably going to push the limits. She was a talker, she loved attention, she was witty. She was FIERCE and she was SMART.
And she knew it.
I loved her immediately, and knew we'd hit it off.
She's the kind of kid who you can share a look with - no words needed - and you're totally on the same page.
A couple days into the new school year, I walked by and tapped my finger on her desk to get her to pay attention after I noticed that she was doodling inside the cover of her sparkly pink notebook.
She looked at me sheepishly because she'd been caught, and quickly put her notebook away. But before she did, I saw what she'd been doodling. It said:
"i am beautiful. i am smart. i love ME!"
I wanted to hold her hands and look her in her big brown eyes and tell her to NEVER forget these words, to make this her MANTRA. To repeat these words to herself, everyday, for the rest of her life.
I wanted to say, "D, you listen here. You ARE beautiful and you ARE smart. And life is gonna be TOUGH. There are going to be days when you look in the mirror and question your beauty compared to society's standards. There are going to be days when others try to knock you down and make you feel less-than-smart. But don't ever doubt for a second the beauty of your outsides, the beauty of your insides, or the capability of your brains. You, my dear, are GOING PLACES. Especially if you keep on loving yourself. Don't EVER stop loving yourself."
This girl, at the ripe old age of 7, holds the key to her happiness in this resounding self-confidence. She has more wisdom than she even realizes. And I believe some woman in her life - a mom, a grandmother, an aunt, a teacher - has allowed her to bloom into a little girl who truly believes in herself and, more importantly, who LOVES herself.
Which is invaluable. The ability to love oneself - in spite of all your flaws and glitches and mess-ups and weaknesses - the ability to love oneself is truly a gift.
A gift I hope I can instill in my own daughter so that, one day, she's scribbling I LOVE ME!!!! inside of her own sparkly pink notebook while she's sitting in her second-grade classroom.
But she'd better not be doodling while the teacher is talking.