Let me tell you about Barb.
I was sitting talking with my husband this morning about the significant difference we have seen in our little one, Haydan, the one who likes to be referred to as: “Barb Marley.”
We were discussing what a huge change we have seen in her confidence, her own self-acceptance, and her overall disposition.
You know where that change came from? It all started with my incorporating her into the “SmashleyAshley” page and Facebook page. “Barb” has always been a ham when it came to the camera and videos, like most children; however, away from the home, she was someone entirely different.
Barb was very self-conscious, constantly comparing herself to others, wanting long hair because all of her classmates had long hair, wanting different shoes because she was the only one who wore Converse, etc. She wasn’t happy with who she was unless she was emulating someone else, and that broke my heart.
At school, she was on best behavior. We would hear from school staff, ones we didn’t even know, what a sweet, caring, compassionate little girl Barb was. We also heard from time to time that she was a bit timid, nervous to stand up for herself, and very shy.
An incident happened a while back where two of her female classmates took her lunch box. Per usual, kids at her school are instructed not to tattle on one another for small, mundane things. Barb’s biggest fear has and continues to be “getting in trouble” or “not staying on ‘green’.” So, she’d never speak up.
I sat in the observation room of her gymnastics class last year and watched as some punk kid continuously kicked her in the backside as they were doing leg-extensions on the balance beam. My heart raced and I wanted to lunge through the fucking plexiglass window and ream him. What did Barb do? Nothing.
I attended class the following week and watched as all the kids took their turn on the bars perfecting their pullover. They’d take a turn, return to the end of the line and do it over again. I watched as not one, but multiple children cut in front of Barb in line as she waited her turn, rather than going back to the end of the line as they should have. What did Barb do? She got out of line and went to the back of the line again. Multiple times.
It absolutely killed me that she wasn’t standing up for herself. I felt like a piece of my heart was breaking. I knew/know that I have raised a caring and kind little girl, but who she was outside of the home was someone entirely different than who she was at home. It was like we lived with Tina Fey at home and Barb was some programmed version of a Stepford Wife in the outside world. She’s always felt comfortable with Justin and I at home and allowed her true colors shine, but I wanted those colors to shine just as brightly outside the home, too.
I asked her about the incidents at gymnastics; why she let that asshole kid kick her in the backside on the balance beam, and why she got out of line each time a child cut her and went to the back of the line, only to wait all over again for her turn.
She said she didn’t know what to say to the boy who was kicking her in the bottom on the balance beam and that they were told not to tattle on each other.
She told me that if someone cut her in line, technically that meant that she was now cutting all the other kids that were behind her.
While that made my heart warm that she was thinking about the kids behind her in line, my stomach churned at ALL of this. I told her that if someone cuts you in line, multiple times, that you need to SPEAK UP.
“Well, what do I say?” she asked me
I explained to her that she could politely let the boy know that that he was cutting in line and that he needed to go back to the end of the line and wait his turn. If that didn’t work, I told her to let the teacher know.
Sure enough, it happened again. I asked her what she said to him as I could see the event unfold again before my eyes as I sat seated above in the observation room.
She explained: “I told him that MY MOM said that he had better not cut me ANYMORE. Then, I told him to go to the back of the line because my mom said so!”
I was happy with her response. However, these were just a few incidents in a never ending chain of situations with Barb that broke my heart.
I incorporated Barb into my writing, into my Facebook posts. My SmashleyAshley page was peppered with pictures of Barb being her Tina Fey-like self at home, and highlighted many of her hilarious conversations with both Justin and I.
Very quickly, people started commenting on those pictures and silly conversations. (That would be YOU GUYS– the Smashers’, the Barbs’.)
I started reading her all of the sweet words that you left her. She was ecstatic. I could see that not just on her face, but also with her behavior in AND out of the home that things were shifting. Her self-confidence was changing.
“Can we show this to my Barbs’?”
“My Barbs’ would love this, take a picture!!!”
“Let’s make my Barbs’ a video!”
“I love my Barbs’!!!!!”
These are all things I hear about 300 times per day.
Here we are many months later and “Barb Marley” provides laughs to so many, no longer just limited to my husband and I, and our close family.
What you don’t know is that, in my heart, I truly believe that so many of you have helped boost her in a way that no one would ever think of. Who would think tossing pictures of their children doing weird shit on the internet would boost their child’s self-confidence? I know many bloggers who won’t post photos of their children or even their children’s names for safety reasons. I completely get that and even more so, I respect that.
However, for us, for our family, while we do take security seriously, we also take into account what a difference this has made in our child’s life. You all have boosted the “at home Barb” (Tina Fey) to show her colors outside of the home, too. Do you know how huge that is? Do you know how exciting, as a mother, it is to see your child talk to the cashier at Target with the same silliness and humor as she does with my husband and I?
I’ve heard from her teacher what a difference she has seen in her self-confidence, her willingness to raise her hand and participate, her excitement to participate in “Secret Sharing Tuesday’s” and just an overall positive, happy, change.
Barb’s teacher is pregnant and we celebrated a baby shower at her school the other day. We all sat around a table and the kids were tossing out potential baby names. The teacher stopped the discussion and looked at Barb with a big smile and said: “Haydan, how about I name the baby ‘Barb’?” Naturally, I melted.
While I recognize that children grow and change, I truly do believe that incorporating Barb into the mix of SmashleyAshley has lifted her up. She sees people that she has never met in real life telling her in so many amazing ways that…they love her; that they think she is great the way she is, that they think she is hilarious..that they love HER for HER.
As a parent, there are only so many ways you can tell your children that you love them, that they are wonderful, that they are worthy, but there is something special about being recognized by people you don’t know for being WHO YOU ARE.
What you’ve see on my page, that is who Barb was at home.
And now? That is what I see my little Barb as in AND outside the home.
When I started this page, I started it for me. I like to write, I like to share my funnies. In all honesty, I never imagined that Barb would benefit from this. If anything, I was nervous about putting her face out there, her real name out there, putting the most important person in my life on showcase for all to see. Hindsight is 20/20, and in this case, in the best way possible.
I look back on one year of doing this and not only have you welcomed me with warm and loving dinosaur arms, you have welcomed my once shy, timid, and self-conscious little one, too.
Watching her outside the home, running around the school campus with confidence, a smile, and a happy disposition—-it makes my heart warm and happy. Knowing that she is building the confidence to stand up for her own choices and who she is, well, as a parent, what else can you ask for? Barb is happy being “Barb”/Haydan and there is no greater joy I could ask for.
So, to all you “Barb Marley” lovers, I thank you. Your comments and love that I have shared with her have seeped into her in the best way possible. In all honesty, she loves you guys. She talks about you guys all the time, sometimes to my disadvantage: “Well, I bet my Barbs’ would agree with me that high heels are fine to wear to the pool, Mom.”
We may all be scattered throughout the world and I wish I could give each and every one of you a dinosaur hug, but until that happens, I wanted to drop this and let you all know how grateful I am for your kind, uplifting, and sweet comments to my little Barb.
Your words, your love, your showing her that she is awesome the way she is, as I tell her time and again; well, it’s made a difference in not only her life, but mine too. And for that, I sincerely thank you.
That brown button below helps more than you know, just a click and you’ve given me a vote today!