Friday, April 12, 2013

Self Deprication

When I think back to third grade and look at photos of myself at that age, I realize that this was definitely the start of my awkward phase that all kids go through.  And now looking at Caroline and hearing the things she says, I think that is the phase we are entering.  One of the biggest indicators of the awkward phase via photos is the adult front teeth - seemingly too big for the still child mouth but needed since the child will be growing into them.  Caroline calls them her "bunny teeth."  According to her no one else in her class has them but I know that is NOT the truth.  She says she hates the way she looks.  She'll say things like "I'm ugly" or "I'm such a dork."  or "I'm such a nerd."  And then she'll turn around and tell us things like she's not smart enough for her class.   She has even just recently made a comment about her legs looking flabby.  O.M.G.

Apparently this is par for the course for her age.  The age when many girls start to compare themselves to their peers and be more self conscious.  I got her this great American Girl book about self esteem and she loved it but now she'll just say things like, "Yeah, I have low self esteem." instead of just saying she doesn't like things about herself.  Lovely.

We've been having a lot of talks lately.  First of all, in regards to body image, I have always been extremely careful NEVER to talk about my own issues with body image to my kids.  Ever.  Where do they get this crap from?  If you haven't seen Caroline lately, you'll notice how tiny she is.  The flab she was referring to the other day was her relaxed calf muscle!  Once we showed her that it's not flab, just a muscle not currently engaged, she laughed it off.  (Plus, have you ever seen how little my kids eat?  I'm in trouble when they finally  actually eat real meals.  They do okay with breakfast but lunch and dinner are hit or miss.)  I've talked about the fact that she does get a lot of activity and that she doesn't overeat and we make healthy food choices as a family whether or not she chooses to actually eat them is her choice right now.  She and I have been walking a lot recently which is another healthy habit.  There are a number of girls in her class that would qualify as overweight so if she's comparing herself to them, it's a stark contrast.

As for the other remarks about herself, I'm not sure where they are coming from either.  I know kids aren't always the nicest to one another and I know that people tend to dwell on the random negative comments as opposed to the more frequent positive ones they hear.  I also know she's one of the smartest kids in her class  (per her teacher) despite what her perception is.  She's super imaginative and has amazing ways of making connections between things that most people wouldn't.  She reads like it's going out of style and she has no issues with math.  But, she feels like she's not good enough.

I do think a lot of this has to do with the fact that she doesn't feel like always fits in with her classmates.  Although sometimes she'll come home and talk about the fun she's had with them and things are better and then other days she'll talk about how she sits alone during recess.....but then she'll tell us she purposely did something to seem weird.  It's like she's trying to be an oddball sometimes for attention.

Which brings me back to my whole theory with my firstborn....she loves attention.  She's the most introverted of my three kids but that's not saying a lot since Bryce and Piper could potentially talk you to death.  Caroline, if not flanked by her younger siblings, can also talk a blue streak but is more apt in lively situations to keep to herself.   There have been times where she'll make a negative comment about herself and then kind of wait for you to disagree with her.  In fact, once you do counter her comment, she'll kind of argue about it with you.  It's not that I don't think there is some truth or feeling behind her comment but I also think that she enjoys the back and forth between parent and child that usually develops.  I can't think of a faster way to get a compliment then to say to your mom or grandmother that you think you're ugly.

I also don't fully buy into the fact that Caroline thinks she's ugly.  Yes, I believe there are some of her features that she doesn't love, but I also see how much time she puts into getting herself ready to go somewhere.  She is meticulous with doing her hair, wearing jewelry, and picking out her clothes.  I know that it won't be long before she's asking to wear makeup!  (Which will have to wait until middle school and will be blue eye shadow for her!)

This is all hard for me because I know that this is a stage that most girls go through and I know that it's going to only get worse before it gets better.  I remember how hard those years were for me.  I'm glad that she's talking about them with me - we're very open in the things we talk about and I try my best not to overreact with any subject she brings up so she'll know she can tell me things.  She also talks to my mom about things a lot too.   I also hope that going to a school next year where there are kids in her class that look like her will help.  In fact, just the other night when we were in our new neighborhood and she had the chance to see Rachel again, she was so excited to tell me that Rachel had teeth just like her!  (Bunny teeth)

I am not looking forward to the middle school years....

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