When my daughter was three, someone told me during a toddler art class that I needed to “toughen her up” because she was too sensitive and “would have a rough life ahead.” When my daughter and I got home, I looked into my child’s big brown eyes that held so much promise and declared, “I will never ever ‘toughen you up.’ Mark my words: someday that tender heart inside you will be your gift.”
It wasn’t until I was cleaning out my daughter’s backpack six years later that I received confirmation for nurturing my child’s tender heart rather than trying to change it.
At the bottom of her book bag there was a speech she had written and recited to her class before being voted class president in a mock election.
My daughter wrote:
“I would very much like to be your class president. I am hard working. I am very kind. I take care of the animals and the plants. I have self-control. I am very brave and honest. I am caring and a little curious. I am very smart and fun. I make a good leader. I care about other people. I am so exided to be one of the class presitents. Please vote for me.”
I cried as I held that paper.
I cried for every little boy whose parents are told he is too rambunctious, too inquisitive, too loud.
I cried for every little girl whose parents are told her head is in the clouds, that she is a daydreamer and too much of a free spirit.
I cried for every little boy whose parents are told he is too small, too weak, and too timid to ever play the game.
I cried for every little girl whose parents are told she is too clumsy, too uncoordinated, too slow to ever succeed.
I cried for the mother who was told her child needed to be toughened up and for every year that mother waited for the moment she would know she had done the right thing by nurturing that tender heart.
The moment was now.
There was cause for celebration. Not because I had been “right.” Oh no, there was something much more miraculous to celebrate.
In the act of protecting, nurturing, and encouraging that overly sensitive heart at age three, my child’s gift had blossomed.
And what was more important than the fact the world could see and appreciate her gift was the fact that she could see it herself.
I shudder to think if I had tried to change her, mold her into something she was not. What would I have destroyed in my beautiful child?
I was certain she could have never written these words, her purpose, her future in clear legible letters.
Herein lies the flip side to an overly sensitive heart—and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Do your children have any “weaknesses” that with time and nurturing could become strengths? How might your life be different if someone had given you this gift?