One thing I've noticed since I became a parent is how many people dismiss FireGirl because she's a child, because she's small, because she's "too young".
She is a child, she's small, and she's young. But she's still a person.
She has feelings, ideas, thoughts, needs, wants... she's a person.
And as a person, she's entitled to a little bit of respect, a little bit of acknowledgement, understanding, compassion.
She doesn't deserve to be ignored because she's young, she deserves to be listened to, recognized, and tended to because she's young.
It amazes me how many people don't even seem to see her, I mean really see her, as her own individual.
As soon as she could talk, she'd repeat things to me that she "wasn't supposed to hear" from others. Although I can't figure out how she wasn't supposed to hear them, since she was in the same room when they were having the conversation.
Now, at age three, she is intelligent, bright, and more than able to carry on a conversation. Her speech is clear. She talks in full sentences. She wants to tell you things, wants to engage with you.
Yet all too often her conversations with other adults go something like this:
FireGirl: "Guess what?"
Adult: "Yes, it was good to see you today"
FireGirl: "Guess what?!?"
Adult: "It sure was neat to get to see your chickens"
FireGirl: "GUESS WHAT?!?"
Adult: "I had a really good time too."
FireGirl: "You are not listening to me"
Adult: "Your shirt looks really pretty too"
That's a paraphrase composite of conversations I've heard my daughter have all too often.
Her speech is clear, not just to me as her mommy, but her teacher confirms that her speech is the clearest of all her age in class (goodbye speech delay!).
She clearly has something she wants to share with these people, something important to her, and they don't even hear her. It's as if they can't fathom that someone so young would have ideas of their own, would be able to carry on a conversation, would be deserving of their attention, would need you to engage with them.
It happens far too often.
And as her mother, it angers me.
I've seen it too many times. I've tried to gently bring to the adult's attention what they were doing, but to no avail.
It happened again at Christmastime. Her Christmas list consisted of a parrot pillow and clothes. That's it. Oh, I threw in a few other toys for good measure that I thought she'd enjoy, but time & time again some adult would tell me that FireGirl "didn't really mean it", that surely she wanted more toys, or books.
I'd tell them to ask her what she wanted for Christmas. They would. She'd say "parrot pillow and clothes". They'd giggle and shake their heads as if she were being silly, then ask me to find out what she really wants and let them know.
Because clearly my child must not have thoughts of her own, must not know what she really wants, must need an adult to guide her to the toy aisle.
My child has no problem finding the toy aisle, thankyouverymuch.
She just really wanted clothes. And a parrot pillow. Period.
Oh sure, none of these are major issues. Restaurants in our area have yet to ban children. Nothing like that. But thousands of little incidents, telling FireGirl that she is insignificant, that her thoughts don't matter, that she is not as important as others... they add up.
She is young, and she is learning, and she is soaking this all in.
And I will do what I can to let her know that she is important, that her ideas do matter, that her opinions count, that she is an individual that is worthy of being noticed. I will do what I can to off-set what she absorbs from these others. I am her mother, and I will do my best to instill in her a sense that she matters.
This post inspired by another blogpost