So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

I watch my daughter walk into the room with her long, straight chestnut hair swaying side to side. I love watching her enter our kitchen each morning.

At ten, her sense of self is strong. She knows how to put together an outfit and creates just the right hairstyle to go with it. I am always impressed with her ability to match her older sister’s fur vest with a pair of leopard leggings or a jean jacket with a plaid skirt meant for the holidays. She does not get this trait from her style-challenged mother, who has worn her hair the same way for nearly two decades.

Her greatest accessory, however, is the confidence that exudes out of her tiny frame. She walks with her head held high as her voice booms against the walls of our home. She is a force.

I see her from behind as she bends over to pull out a waffle from the bottom of our freezer. When she stands up, I notice her shorts don’t move much. They lay perfectly still, roughly one inch under her buttocks. I think to myself that J-Lo would be envious of that perfect bum.

But then I remember that she is in fourth grade and not on a tour with backup dancers. 

“I think you put on an old pair of shorts, the ones from last year. They are too small, but I bought some new ones the other day. They are in the guest room, I think,” I say this off-handedly as I pour a cup of coffee.

“Awwww,” she whines. “But these are my favorite pair. They are so comfortable.”

“Honey, they are too small!” I say more forcefully. “You have to change.”

“But why? They don’t feel too small to me.”

I know the reason, but I don’t say it. I don’t want to be the person who makes her uncomfortable with her body. I don’t want to be the first woman to judge her appearance. I don’t want to be the mom who doesn’t respect her for who she is.

So I simply say, “Please. Change your shorts. It’s not a big deal. You’ve outgrown them.”

And I sigh with relief as she turns and stomps slowly up the stairs. I hope she is more annoyed with the time it takes to change then with her mother’s clothing rules.

The truth is, it’s my issue. I don’t want my daughter viewed in an overtly sexualized way. I already notice the curves appearing on her slight frame and her legs lengthening by the minute. Her dark, thick eyelashes often cause people to ask if she is wearing makeup and I see puberty just around the corner.

I am not ready for the painful conversations forthcoming, the ones where I inform her that clothing (or lack thereof) can lead to unwanted and inappropriate responses from men, even though it shouldn’t be that way.

I am not prepared to tell her that big brands are preying on young girls’ insecurities and their desire to feel “grown up.” 

I do not want to address that what she puts on her body, whether it is shorty shorts or a t-shirt with demeaning language or even a simple logo, matters. 

But I will. Because I know that all the stimulation from video games and social media and fashion magazines makes it difficult for her to hear me. All that titillation affects our children who are already battling hormones earlier and with more intensity.

I will shout above all the noise to ensure she knows that she is enough, exactly as she is, in every moment. I will tell her that while it feels good to fit in and it feels good to be liked, she will find that being accepted only when you are pretending to be something you’re not is an exhausting, unfulfilling experience.

And I will try to convince her that growing up takes courage. It takes courage to try something new, but even more courage to decide you are not ready for something — like clothing that leaves little to the imagination.

I hear her bound down the stairs and watch as she slides across the wooden floor in her favorite kitten socks. She changed her an entire outfit — including her hair — and I see a  little girl again, if only for a moment.

I know these days are fleeting, and tomorrow’s conflict may be more complicated, but I am thankful that today she is protected under the bubble of childhood, so she can play and grow as she should.

I am thankful that I won this battle. I just wish the war wasn’t so damn long.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, I’m Giving You My Baby

In: Kids
newborn baby swaddled and sleeping

I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, and you couldn’t have been more wonderful. You caught her eye from across the playground and immediately waved. You greeted her by name with a warm smile, and you were totally OK (encouraging, even) with me hanging around for a while before actually leaving her. You looked me in the eye, smiled and greeted me happily, and pretended not to notice when I started tearing up while introducing myself. (Thank you for that.) My daughter was the first of your students to arrive, and you chatted with her...

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Messy with Imagination and I Want to Remember It All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toys on bedroom floor

Sometimes I take random photos on my phone of my son’s bedroom or what he has built with his LEGOs. I do this because I know how quickly things change while he is this young. What he builds with LEGOs is always evolving, becoming more intricate and sophisticated. When I look around his room and see everything that is there, it’s like a snapshot of the season we are in. And all I want to do is capture each season. Capture what life looks like for us, for him. I envision showing him these photos when he is grown, maybe...

Keep Reading

God Bless the Middle School Teachers Who Love Our Tweens and Teens

In: Kids, Teen, Tween
Middle school students smiling

I keep seeing articles about kindergartners heading off to school for the first time, and parents are feeling all the things kindergarten parents feel. I’ve been a middle school teacher for my entire career, and I know for sure that middle school parents are feeling all the feelings too. We teachers are ready to receive your babies in middle school too. In our neck of the woods, middle school starts in sixth grade. Fifth graders were at the top of the pyramid in elementary school, but they arrive in middle school as the little ones. In the eyes of the...

Keep Reading

6 Things the Parent of a Child With Medical Needs Learns

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child holding baby doll

My 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months before her 2nd birthday. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to watch her blood glucose levels and a pump that administers insulin. Before these amazing pieces of medical technology, we were pricking her fingers up to 10 times a day and giving insulin injections at about the same rate—ouch! There are many parents out there with children with special medical needs. One mom I know has to give her autistic son enemas every day because of digestive issues. Another mom has a child with highly specialized dietary...

Keep Reading

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.