The other night, the moment I have been dreading for the past 7 1/2 years finally came. As I was cutting Camden's hair in my bathroom he kept holding his hands up, pressing in his ears against his head as he watched himself in the mirror.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Just seeing what I would look like if my ears were folded in more, closer to my head," he said.
"Why would you do that?"
"Because some of the kids at school make fun of me because my ears stick out more than theirs do."
Oh, boy. I knew the day would come when he became self-conscious about this or that and it always broke my heart to think of it.
I have a love/hate relationship with this growing up business. Self-showering, better reasoning, no diapers- those are all perks. But the self-consciousness, the awareness of an unforgiving world around them, the loss of innocence- those are all things I would happily do without.
I have reason to be grateful though. To my little boy, forts made out of blankets are still mystical caves. Jumping off his bunk bed using the diapers he stole from his sister's room will serve as parachutes and float him gently to the ground. Holding on to helium balloons can make someone fly far, far away. Christmas Eve is still the most magical day of the year and his mama is the only woman in his life.
As I talked to him about how Heavenly Father made us each beautifully different, how people who bring others down to elevate themselves are not to be paid any mind, and how tough experiences make us stronger and more compassionate- he listened to me with wide, watchful eyes.
With simple faith he believed me and within seconds his insecurity was forgotten as the conversation turned to paper airplanes and his second best friend's upcoming birthday party.
These are the moments that as mothers we pray that we will be prepared for when they come. Knowing how to use these fleeting moments as tools of empowerment to make them stronger without coddling or deferring.
As he held up the hand mirror to examine the back of his head after I finished cutting his hair, I thought how I wished he could carry a little hand mirror around with him and see himself as I see him whenever the doubts begin to creep in. To see himself as the bright, thoughtful, resourceful, beautiful little man that he really is.