January 28, 2013

Raising one of the beautiful people

It will, I'm sure, shock you to your core to find out that neither Jrex nor I were ever 'beautiful people'. I was friends with some of the people in the popular crowd, but mostly hung out with the stoners and alternative crowd. Jrex was a music/science geek. We're both attractive enough, but have never had people come up and compliment our looks before they get to know us. We win people over because of our personalities more than our looks.

In the long run, I'm profoundly grateful for that. I don't fear getting old because it's never been about how I look, it's always been about who I am on the inside. I'm hoping to be a vivacious, adventurous 70-something whitewater rafting down the river. As long as they're laugh wrinkles, right?

On Saturday I put Brex in the stroller and walked over to the Bishop Arts District. Stopped in to the kid's store to look for slippers for Brex, bought a milkshake at Hunky's (no joke), stopped in at a consignment store to grab stuff off the sales rack for me and then headed home.

In the kid's store the person working the register saw him and exclaimed, "Isn't that Brex!? I recognize him from our contest a while ago. He is adorable." (Brex won for cutest kid in his age/gender group).

At Hunky's, after we finished eating, while I was cleaning up after the food, I let Brex wander the café a bit. He walked over to a booth where there was a family with two young girls. He stared at them a bit in fascination. Then waddled to the next booth where there were two older women. They smiled at him, he grinned back. I gathered him up and put him in the stroller. One of the women made a point to come over and tell me, "Your boy is so handsome! He has such a wonderful smile and he is just so adorable."

At the clothing store, the woman working the register asked how old Brex is. We chatted and she said, "He is such a good looking baby. He looks so big. What a cutie."

None of these comments were unusual. The scary thing is that part of me is starting to expect them. What really freaked me out was a lunch stop with Brex a few weeks ago; we stopped at Wendy's after running some errands. Brex ate a bit of his food, put his hands in the air (at home, Appa often says, "Yeah!" when Brex does that), then looked around the restaurant. He waited, turning, looking. No one was looking at him or clapping and he seemed a bit disappointed.

I don't want a kid who assumes the world will cater to him because he happened to win a genetic jackpot. It's no credit to him that he's cute; being thoughtful or honest or standing up for someone being bullied--those matter more. My Mom kept a journal the first year or so of my life. In it she said that people kept commenting what a beautiful baby I was and she'd answer, "She's beautiful inside and out." I love the response, but it feels too contrived for me (though it wasn't at all contrived from my ultra-sincere Mother). On the other hand, I grew out of being a beautiful baby, so this whole issue may disappear!

In case it doesn't, do any of you have advice for us for how to help him value inner character over outward appearance?


Rachel said...

Well, he is indeed a cutie, so you can't blame people for noticing. ;) I think as long as you emphasize character (being kind, polite, persistent, etc.) over looks, he will get the message.

Inkling said...

We just talk a lot with Grasshopper about what his name means, what we hope he will grow to be (in terms of character and integrity only!), and what we enjoy about him. Granted, he has heard me say far too many times that he is the cutest kid this side of Halifax - enough that he asked once where Halifax is located. I guess, in a nutshell, I just try to fill up his tank with words of encouragement about his character and what really matters.

But I gotta say, it wouldn't bug me if your blog had photos of Brex on it every day. He is indeed adorable and I have no idea how you don't just spend all day kissing those cute cheeks. =)

NGS said...

I had a roommate who was a social work major and she came home talking about how we condition our children from a very young age. With girls, we praise them for how "pretty, polite, and quiet" they are. With boys, we praise them for how "athletic, precocious, and capable of mimicry" they are. (Slightly related: this is true for how we treated the cats in the house. All of us would tell the girl cat she was soooo pretty and we'd tell the boy cat he was sooooo agile and good at catching bugs.)

I think the best you can do is make sure your praise is well-rounded. He's cute, but he's also smart! He's daring trying to walk by himself, but he's also so nice not to pull the dog's tail! He's so polite, but he's also got the cutest cheeks in the world!

But what do I know? I don't have kids.

(And he is undeniably adorable. Of course.)

Jack Towe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Towe said...

OTRsis can counsel you on this problem. Do you recall that she was so popular, so beloved, that Peter Rabbit had to set up a seating chart in Nursery School so each kid got a week sitting next to OTRsis?

Yet, she survived all that -- and other bouts of adoration -- without losing balance, sense or kindliness.