I am a big believer in letting my children know just how proud of them I am. In our house, if you do the right thing, we let you know. We aren’t interested in the bad stuff. We want to celebrate the good. And no accomplishment is too small. Do we throw a party everytime superman brushes his teeth? No. But do we high five him when he remembers to get his brother’s toothbrush ready? Absolutely. Monchichi’s therapy is largely based on this principle. Good choices=good times. Bad choices=not so much.
And, having been a kid myself (albeit a long time ago) I too know the warm and fuzzy feeling a simple compliment from my parents invoked in me. Even if it was, literally, a stoic pat on the back from my dad (who to this day, praises us to our mom who then passes it down to us). And it is less about ego then about acknowledging someone’s efforts at doing something well (even if the soccer ball is kicked toward the other team’s goal; hey, that kick was powerful!).
And today I got a humbling reminder that within all of us lies a deep desire to please our parents; to know that we have succeeded in something in their eyes.
This morning my grandmother and I caught a segment of a show on the Polish channel. On the stage was a four year old little girl, singing her precious little heart out to a popular Polish pop song. My grandmother looked at the tv and then began to tell me how my mom was always performing for people. “Your mom was always the one singing and dancing; she used to recite poetry fit for a king.”
It was a simple statement. A subtle compliment.
And yet, when I spoke to my mom, who is in Poland for a family wedding, and gently relayed what my babcia had said, I heard only silence on the other line.
Her voice thick with tears, I heard her take a breath and whisper “thank you.”
And I understood.
Her mom had given my mom something very priceless. Something that we are never too young or too old to receive; our parent’s pride in us. We thirst for it. We crave it. And when it comes it is something that we cherish and tightly wrap around us.
And across the thousands of miles between us, I felt my mom’s energy shift. I imagined the little girl inside of her that misses her mom, that yearns for their conversations in the kitchen and during their walks around the neighborhood. The stroke took most of that mom away. And today the relationship, if only for a second, was reversed.
Today my mom was once again the little girl, hearing maybe for the first time in her life, that her mamusia was proud.