My six-year-old gave me a blue ribbon the other day. It is adorned with a decal, "World's Best Mom," in bright pink lettering, as well as a few decorative butterflies, stars, a crown, and a soccer ball.
She presented it to me proudly, with a big kiss and a hug. It wasn't Mother's Day yet, but I felt as pleased and touched as though it had been. Who doesn't like to get a prize now and then (even one that comes out of a "Create Your Own Awesome Awards" craft kit)? I pinned it to my sweater and started making dinner.
My daughter went back to her work at the kitchen table. She was absorbed in applying decals to ribbons for her friends and her dad. His says "World's Best Dad."
Come bedtime, I was still wearing my blue ribbon, but my daughter was no longer smiling. We were both tired. When I asked her to help pick up the toys in her room, I got a scowl instead. I asked again, and she replied "I wish I could take the words 'World's Best' off that ribbon and just leave the word 'Mom.'"
And then I did what the "World's Best Mom," whoever she is, would surely not. I took the ribbon off.
Were there tears? Yes. But not just tears. My daughter's bright, beautiful face crumpled. She wasn't defiant anymore; she was crushed.
It took me a minute to figure out what to say. As she sobbed, I stood there, wondering how to respond, wondering at my own hurt feelings. I sat down on the floor next to her, and said I was sorry. "I should have found a better way to tell you that your words made me upset. Taking off the ribbon was not a nice way to tell you that."
She nodded, and soon stopped crying. We put away the toys together. I pinned the ribbon back on, and got another hug. But I'd be just as happy if she did take off the words "World's Best." Being my darling girl's "Mom" is prize enough for me.
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