I’ve been told I have a cute kid. My brother, on the other hand, has a beautiful one. Stunningly so, really--curly blonde hair, bright blue eyes, rosebud lips, the whole deal. She is two-ish, just like my son. Already, my brother is trying to figure out how to protect her from her prettiness.
“I don’t know what to do,” he told me. “Everywhere we go someone comments on it. She’s old enough now to understand what they’re saying, so how do I respond? How do I get them to stop?”
I told him the truth: that they’ll likely never stop. And that it’s probably less important how he responds to strangers, and more about the confidence and self-worth he fosters in his daughter.
Recently our families were together visiting my parents. They set up a kiddie pool in the backyard and one afternoon we threw the cousins in together. Immediately my son, who loves the water, began splashing around and taking up lots of space. My niece started to cry and cower by the edge of the pool.
“Hey, no splashing,” I told my son. “Your cousin doesn’t like it.”
“Oh hell no,” said my brother. “It’s a pool. He can splash all he wants. She needs to learn how to splash back.”
I watched as he coached my niece to hit the water with her hands. She started to get the hang of it as drops rained down around her. She moved closer to my son, still splashing, and a determined look came over her tiny, beautiful face. Taking a plastic bucket, she filled it with water and unceremoniously dumped it over her cousin’s head.
For a split second the adults all froze, then broke into applause.
“Woohoo, way to go!”
“She did it!”
For his part, my son thought it was all in good fun. The splashing continued until both kids were exhausted and had nearly emptied the pool.
My brother looked on proudly.
I think my niece is going to be just fine.
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