As our three-year-old was cleaning up her toys after dinner, she looked over her shoulder and asked, “I’m nice, am I?”
Her question stopped me in my tracks because she made an identity statement, “I’m nice,” and she was looking for affirmation that who she said she was, was true. She wanted to be nice. She thought cleaning up her toys was nice and at the same time, she needed the outside affirmation from her parent to know that who she said she was, was real.
I think her statement/question reveals something we all wonder about. Is the person who we think we are how the world sees us? Is the person we are trying to be really communicating with the people around us? Maybe, even more deeply her statement/question is really asking, “Is this a safe place to be myself?”
As a parent, I hesitate to make identity statements about my children. I don’t want to tell them who they are, I want to be ready when they reveal part of who they are becoming with affirmation and encouragement.
When they ask, “I’m nice, am I?” I respond, “Yes, you are nice and you are good and you are beloved.” And as I tell affirm that in her, I feel the echoes deep within my own soul.