I thought I’d tackle some updates (or twenty!) on the last two years and had planned to do it as each child’s birthday approached, but I’ve decided to start with Miss Coco as she has been particularly on my mind as of late for reasons I will surely get to. So…where to begin with this little lovely….here are the current stats:
Loves: Books, music, gymnastics and Frozen
Strengths: Reading, cartwheels and crying on cue
Dislikes: Green beans, chores, being left behind by her brothers
From the moment Coco has been under our wing there has been a continuing phenomenon between her and the outside world. There is not a single day that goes by where she is not told by someone outside our family how cute she is. Now, I know you think I’m totally exaggerating here, but I kid you not. It happens at school, in stores, walking down the street, at church…EVERYWHERE we go, complete strangers stop and tell her how darling/beautiful/cute she is. They may touch her face or hair and often they give her free stuff. You guys, I am not joking—it is C.R.A.Z.Y!! An airport shuttle bus driver gave her the Christmas headband she was wearing. A store clerk in Hawaii gave her a free piece of merchandise….AS WE STOOD THERE WITH MY NIECE AND NEPHEWS! (Who are also ADORABLE I might add!!) This has become a little tricky for us. The boys have come home from school commenting on her apparent rock star status, wondering how to respond to the constant onslaught of “your sister is so cute!” “how’s your sister?” “where’s your sister?” We try to give them kind responses to use, encouraging people to notice other things about her, but to no avail. Such is the way of our world right? I so desperately want her to hear other messages of where her value lies. I do my best to give attention to her intelligence, kindness or strength, which by no means can I say often enough to compete, so then I find myself doing irrational things like keeping her from looking at herself in mirrors and other nonsense. I get it, I do….she is SO CUTE right? And there is something simply spellbinding about her…we knew it from day one. But we’ve grown increasingly terrified about this constant attention and validation of her physical beauty and the message it is sending to her little soul. Our voices preaching inner beauty and character building are like shouting into a wind tunnel against the world’s message of outer beauty and perfection. I have no doubt it will only get louder as she gets older.
Here is what I wish people knew about her….Coco has had three ear surgeries in the last nine months…full on, put her under, big time operations, the last of which was the week before Christmas. Her strength and courage and determination have astounded us. When we returned with the kids from Africa we discovered that both of her ear drums were blown from chronic untreated ear infections. Diagnosed with a “conductive hearing loss” she’s worn hearing aids in both ears since. Last January, in an effort to explore long term treatment options for her, we were connected to a surgeon in Los Angeles who recommended surgery to repair her ear drums. This would give her healthy ears, and in theory would begin to correct the hearing loss. Three surgeries later we have one healthy ear, waiting to see on the other, but little to no improvement in her hearing. Still a long road ahead, but, here is the unbelievable thing about this amazing girl….she is unphased–and I mean completely unphased by it all. She is active, articulate, and is reading far above grade level….seriously, how is this possible? Three years ago SHE COULDN’T REALLY HEAR OR SPEAK ENGLISH!! She is more than cute y’all.
So, I’m thinking a lot these days about inner beauty and how to cultivate it. Kindness, compassion, courage, patience, generosity, sense of humor…these are the values I want to grow in her and in myself for that matter. Oh how I continue to be taught by this little one. I want to work harder to express value and worth to people I come into contact with that is not based on outward appearances or behaviors. Will you join me?