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.