I look at her and she takes my breath away. She is just so perfectly… herself. And I am envious. And in such love, my lungs, heart, stomach ache…
Jane: Do you know how utterly amazing you are? You are just awesome.
Flora: Aw. Thank you.
And she smiles her incredible smile at me. She’s at that lovely, unwrecked age when she still knows how to take a compliment, you know? When you tell her she’s beautiful, she just smiles a lovely smile that says, “I know.” When you tell her she’s clever, she looks at you, a little surprised—“Isn’t it obvious? Why must you say so?”
But the world-around-us is making inroads, attempting all sorts of assaults at her sense of self. And while she accepted the compliment as her natural due… she’s self-reflective enough to ponder whether that was ok. And so, she scrunches up her lovely, brilliant face, and looks at me…
Flora: Mom? Is it bad to have a big ego?
Oh, my beloved. The questions you ask. And would not your life be easier if I could just give you pap, pat answers? I hold her look and ponder my answer.
Jane: I suppose it depends on what you do with that ego…
But that’s no answer at all, is it? And it’s actually the wrong question, too. So I try again, to come closer to truth:
Jane: I think it’s probably worse to have no ego at all that to have a big one…
She thinks on that for a while. Is not sure she understands. Asks for clarification. And so I ask her… what’s her perception? What does she think—is it good or bad to have a big ego? What does she understand by ego? What does she mean by “big ego”? Is she thinking of someone specific?
Flora: Someone with a big ego is someone who thinks they are oh-so-great.
And, oh-yes, she’s thinking of someone specific…
But is someone with a big ego really someone who thinks they are oh-so-great? I want to see where she takes this, so I ask her—how do you know that they think they are oh-so-great?
Flora: Well, they tell you how great they are. All the time.
Right. So listen to this, my Flora: in my experience—and in my line of work, I’ve become something of an expert on big egos, and egos-that-want-to-be-big-but-are-actually-egos-of-scarred-and-scared-little-boys—the people who tell you how great they are (all the time) don’t actually have big egos. They are scarred-and-scared-insecure-and-easily-threatened-little-boys-and-girls who need to talk big to feel big…
Flora: So… they tell you they’re oh-so-great… because they’re actually worried they aren’t?
Exactly, my love. The people with big-secure-confident-I’m-your-Mona-Lisa-and-I-know-it-down-to-my-toes egos… they don’t need to tell you how great they are. (You do it for them, to them, all the time, unprompted…)
My Flora is fascinated, and slightly perturbed. She stoops down, sits down. Thinks and thinks. Finally:
Flora: Do I have a big ego?
Ah, THE question. And so how do we answer that, within the parameters we have set? And with some consideration for the inroads the world-around-us is making into her mind?
Jane: Well… do you think you’re oh-so-great?
And what she says, beloved, what she says… well, this is what she says:
Flora: Well, I don’t know if I’m oh-so-great… but I’m pretty good. And pretty cool. Most of the time. Except sometimes, when I’m an obnoxious jerk. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident… but generally, I’m just… I’m pretty good.
My blogging colleague Jen Rose at Something Clever 2.0 once commented here, “Flora for President!” Let me up that, today, to “Flora, Ultimate Ruler of the Universe!” Cause what a wonderful universe that would be…
Jane: So I think you have a perfectly healthy, solid ego that doesn’t need to tell others how great it is, because it is confident that it’s just awesome, and that’s pretty awesome.
She glows with… Floraness. And… did I tell you already? I look at her and she takes my breath away. She is just so perfectly… herself. I love her so much, my lungs, heart, stomach ache…
She smiles and me. And slants her eyes … and smiles again…
Flora: So if someone tells me I have a big ego… should I just kick him in the balls as hard as I can?
What would you say?
P.S. Somewhere, out there, I’m sure there is an article–course–workshop on how to write short, pithy, search engine friendly post headlines. Don’t tell me about it. I don’t care.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. And once again, wonderful. I love you and your Flora.
Flora for ultimate ruler of the universe!
I’m rooting for Flora (and Cinder and Ender) and my baby girl and my Bo and…. Hell, I’m rooting for the adults who are still figuring that out (myself included).
They will. We will. 🙂
Oh I love her and that she knows who she is.
Such big questions from a little person. She has great perspective. You’re doing good momma.
Okay, Flora’s line at the end made me laugh out loud! She’s got a great (not too big) head on her shoulders and a mama who’s teaching her so much! There’s a difference between self-esteem and ego, and I think she gets it!
She also has a killer ball-kick. So I’ve been told…
I really, seriously teared up at this post. In the very excellent way. Because of your incredible love and wonder for your creation that is not yours. For her age of “unwrecked” enlightenment. For the hope that she can withstand the inroads of life and remain… herself.
Found you through Deb, above. Go, Flora! Loved the PS, btw. That right there is why Flora is so grounded.
Welcome. Thank you. My Flora kinda rocks. 🙂
Let’s see if I can formulate this how my brain is thinking it.
I think one of the benefits of homeschooling is that our children’s egos, self-esteem, ticking mechanism, is allowed to grow as it should be.
I am always impressed at what comes out of your children’s mouths, as I am impressed and surprised about what comes out of my child’s.
With no one telling them, they can’t be this, and they are too young to explore that…. well they grow just right. Don’t they?
Indeed. But ardent advocate of homeschooling though I am, I also know this: home, family trumps everything. It’s easier outside the system for sure–harder for the-world-around-us to do its thing… But ultimately, when home is love-security-a-place-to-be-yourself… it trumps EVERYTHING.
Pingback: Share This: Alan Watts on “success” (with help from Matt Stone and Trey Parker) | Undogmatic Unschoolers
Oh Flora, how I adore you. Please try to hard to remember how pretty cool and pretty great that you are for all of your years forever. And yeah, some scared scarred boys and men really could use a swift kick in the balls.
Love this! We could all learn a lot from Flora – I hope she thinks that way as long as possible! x
SO poignant (and not in a canned way, in its originally intended way), and then… you and Flora get me snickering with that last line. Such a perfect blend of wisdom and humor here. Obviously. 😉
I was watching the crime channel last night (as you do…) and a particularly narcissistic ex-cop said “as soon as someone that you are questioning answers one of your questions with another question, you sit up and take notice!” aside from you possibly being a murderer (note to self “vet the blogs that you follow more closely…”) maieutics should be confined to places where you are standing behind your prone, couch bound client who is paying both through the nose and by the minute.
We need more “Flora the explorer” than “Dora the explorer” as role models for our kids of today. If the ego questioner is a member of your family, restrain yourself dear Flora. It might be cathartic to kick them square in the nuts but you have to live with the consequences of your actions. Anyone else “SQUARE IN THE NUTS!” By the way, should you ever stumble across that article-course-workshop can you please…pulEEZE share it with me?
Let’s change genders for a moment in a thought experiment. And the little boys says, at the end, “can I rape her?”
Still funny? I think not. To use and accept sexual violence as “humor” is immensely damaging. It makes such violence “funny”, “acceptable”, and real boys are harmed by it. Your contempt for boys, men and male sexuality is duly noted.