Who Turned Out the Lights?
I'm not sure where she got the idea. I'm not sure if she knew what she was asking to do when she asked. Without even knowing it, I knew she was on to something. All I can ask for is that it saves her from turning out her light. I hope it saves her from letting someone else tell her that she needs to be quieter, dimmer, less bright, muted somehow. Silenced.
I hear the stories everyday. Sometimes the age varies. The context usually varies. The players vary, although it's usually initially an influential member of the family. It's usually in relation to someone who has a much louder voice and the ability to control others through fear. Their control is often passive and from the outside can even be seen as kind. That, of course, makes it even more confusing and harder to spot. So those who suffer learn to suffer in silence. Their voice gets smaller and smaller.
Where does it start? Can it be stopped early enough so as to not move through life having to always work on confidence? How do you create presence? We know to look for it in early teenagers. We know to stop and try and cultivate self-esteem in the pre-teen. Is that too late? I know the stories I hear start before those difficult teenage years. The supportive system needed to survive the teenage wasteland was already too many steps away by then.
Having a five year old has opened my eyes to a thousand things I would have never thought about. Her quiet voice when trying to tell someone what she needs has been a thought at the back of my mind. I quietly tell myself it's something she will grow out of. But, how? Why would she? I try not to blame myself for her shy tendencies as it is. How can I help her without drawing attention to her quiet voice in a why that suggests she should feel bad about it. It's a fact that we are telling children to be quieter as much if not more than we are telling them to speak up. I can see how she can get confused.
Standing there listening to her recite her 'magic words' at her second karate lesson I saw something. I saw the part of her that needs to earn her confidence. I saw how early on she needs to be empowered to be loud, to be proud, to feel strong, to feel presence. She needs to be able to own her own light and shine it bright. Here's to hoping she gets to build that foundation and instead of curling her shoulders forward, huddling over she can stand tall and say, 'mommy, I am here!'.