Just Be Yourself
By Muriel Kramer
Hopkinton, Massachusetts USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 10 No. 3, May-June 1993, p. 75
Not long after the start of school my son, Tyler, six, began wondering when I'd be able to help out at school like some of the other mothers. Because I have two younger children who need a sitter when I'm gone, I was only going to volunteer a couple of times. I told him he'd have to be patient and wait until it was my turn.
The big day finally arrived, and Tyler was thrilled. As we drove his siblings to a friend's house, he happily chatted with his brother about how nice it would be and what we would be doing in class today. Then he suddenly stopped short. After a slight pause, he spoke directly to me and said, "Don't worry, Mom. Just be yourself, and you'll be fine." I smiled to myself and thanked him for his confidence in me.
It wasn't until later that I thought about how important this was to him--a new school, new friends, and a new teacher. Kindergarten was serious business and extremely important to Tyler. In spite of this, he was able to remember it would be unfamiliar to me, and that maybe I could use a bit of encouragement. Not only that, he also expressed total confidence in me! He didn't need to remind me to be quiet, wait my turn, be polite, or any of the countless things I tend to remind him of before doing something new. He trusted me to behave myself and not embarrass him, and still I knew he would understand if I made a mistake. "Don't worry, Mom. Just be yourself, and you'll be fine." What a wonderful thing to say!
I think of that simple statement sometimes when we are off to visit relatives, shop, attend church, or whatever, and I remember how much nicer it was to hear an expression of confidence rather than a reminder to behave.
I think of that statement sometimes when people tell me what a mistake it is to "give in" to my kids so much. "You'll spoil them forever if you don't get them used to life's 'realities' now when they are young." Happily I find that children can and do learn to be generous with others when others are generous with them. Parental generosity and respect reap high dividends. Treating our children respectfully is really the only way to teach them to respect others. Once again I have reason to thank La Leche League for opening my heart to alternatives in parenting, so I could be open to my children and their differing abilities and needs.
I think of Tyler's statement sometimes when I'm considering what I really want my children to learn as they grow. High on my list is confidence in themselves and their abilities even in unfamiliar situations. "Don't worry. Just be yourself, and you'll be fine."