Most days, as I drive her to preschool, I hear Claire’s sweet little voice giving herself a pep talk in the back seat. It goes something like this:
“Claire Bear be OK. Mommy come right back. Daddy come right back. Etta come right back. Claire Bear be OK. Claire Bear see friends. Claire Bear see Miss Freddie. Claire Bear eat snacks. Claire Bear go outside. Mommy come right back. Claire Bear go outside. Mommy come right back. Mommy always come right back.”
By the time we get to school, she’s psyched up like a player for the big game. She waves bye bye to her sister and me. She walks happily into her classroom, where she will see her friends and beloved teachers, eat snacks, play with toys, sing songs, read books, work hard with her therapists, and then, at the end of the day, where her mommy will come right back to her.
Even though she’s only two, it seems my girl has learned one of my universal truths: the stories we tell ourselves shape our experience, and, in fact, construct our reality. As Thomas King says, “The truth about stories is they’re all we are.” School is a daunting experience for a person so small. She literally goes off into emotional battle each day, to face unknowns, other kids, hard work, and do it all without the people who make her happiest and most secure. She comes home tired and worn out, sometimes a little extra whiny and a little clingy. But she psychs herself up to do it again each day, and her teachers always report what a happy, helpful, sweet girl she is all day long. I think this is largely because of the story she tells herself every day, and because she knows that Mommy and Daddy really do always come right back, and that we will always be there when she needs us.
For now, I may be the one writing this story here, but she’s already writing her own, too.
In case you need a positive story to start YOUR day, I suggest using this other little girl as a role model:
You can do anything good.