Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of our family’s favorite animated movies. It has been since before we even had children. In fact, when I met my husband it may have been one of the first things we had in common; we both loved the story of Belle the beauty and how she saw past a less than beautiful exterior and saw the beauty within the beast. We both believe strongly that people’s true beauty comes from within, it has absolutely nothing to do with how someone looks.
As we got to know one another, my husband told me stories of being bullied when he was young. He’s been 6’5” since he was a freshman in high school and he was very thin. Over the years, I’ve heard his stories as they reveal themselves to me one by one and it breaks my heart that he ever felt that kind of rejection. It pains me that other people couldn’t see the beautiful person that he was even back then because they were too busy fixating on the outside.
When I look at him all I can see is a big, strong man who loves his girls fiercely, whose heart is bigger and more beautiful than any other person I know. His smile across the room when he spots me, the way his lips curl up unknowingly into a smile and his face lights up when he watches our girls do just about anything only make him more beautiful for me.
I see the man who has held me tight and lifted me up on more occasions than I can count. I see selfless sacrifice time and time again so that he can insure our happiness. When I look at him, I see the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen. That’s what I want for my daughters: to love completely and to love someone and be loved for who they are on the inside, the person they are when they think no one else is watching.
The thing is that I’m not sure that I’ve always done this myself. Before I met my husband, I was fickle and young and stupid. What I looked for in people was more about what they could do for me, how they could compliment me; make me feel better about myself and less about them. I was in my 20s and I was superficial. I had never been bullied. I was popular and I had lots of friends. I lived in a bubble. Everything was about me and I never even once considered how my actions could affect others. I am embarrassed by the person I used to be.
It’s said that we all want better for our children and that is certainly true. Not only do I want more out of their education and circumstances, I want them to benefit from the wisdom that I’ve gained from living my life. That’s why from a very young age we’ve taught our girls that true beauty comes from within themselves and others. We’ve bluntly taught them that judging someone by how they look or before having a conversation and getting to know someone is simply an ignorant thing to do and could certainly be to their detriment.
It’s something we work on daily. It’s something that we teach by example. And though my children are far from perfect, every now and then I get glimpses of the truly beautiful human beings they are becoming.
Bella, our oldest, has just entered 6th grade. 6th grade is tricky, folks. In case you’ve not been there yet with your child. It’s a magical place full of awkwardly beautiful babies in budding adult bodies. Everyone is simultaneously hideous and breathtaking at the same time. It’s like watching caterpillars morph into majestic butterflies while knocking over and breaking everything in sight. It’s helplessly watching your child being reborn into adult form over a period of a couple years. But if you watch closely, there are big changes taking place quietly on the inside too.
Sometimes hormones get the better of these ever changing “kidults” and sweet children become ugly beasts. They say and do things that they may not have even thought of doing the year or even the day before. I know, I’ve seen it happen in our house. But in our house, the love is unconditional; at school, that is not necessarily the case. The tween years are almost as fickle as the twenties.
I have witnessed several of my daughter’s friends pull and push away. They buck and rage against the changes. One minute they embrace them and think they are women and then the next they reject the entire idea and try desperately to hold on to who they were in the bosom of their mothers. During this self-centered centric period of growing up things are often said and done out of frustration that cause a lot of collateral damage. Unfortunately, during this in-between time, not only do children shed their little kid bodies they shed some friendships too; some are outgrown and some are irreparably damaged by what’s said during this time. It’s like they are suffering from Jekyll and Hyde syndrome and we all know how that turns out, someone is going to get hurt.
My daughter has a best friend that she’s had since she was 5. Suddenly, this girl started being mean to my daughter. I don’t even think it was bullying. She just became, for lack of a better term, cruel for the sake of being cruel. There was no calling of names but more of a general, shutting my daughter out and bluntly stating things in a way that broke my daughters heart because this was the one friend who has always been there to support her and love her. Suddenly, her rock was gone and my daughter was left confused and unsteady with no explanation.
My mama bear instinct was to tell my daughter to stop associating with this child even though I had taught my daughter to see past the superficial. Let’s be honest, if you are hurting my child, as far as I’m concerned you can drop off the face of the earth. But my daughter, at the ripe old age of 10, said something profound, “Mom, she’s always been my friend and I think she’s just confused right now. I’m not going to stop being her friend because she’s having a bad day. I’ll just give her some time to get normal again.” And that’s what she did. They didn’t speak all summer. There was no animosity. There was just space. Space to grow and get “normal” again. On the 1st day of school, her friend ran to her and hugged her like the best friends they’ve always been. There was no grudges or judgement just pure love and acceptance on both sides.
My daughter embodied the lesson we’ve been teaching her since she’s been a toddler. Like Belle, She showed me that seeing the best in people, giving them the benefit of the doubt and seeing the beauty within despite the ugly they are projecting on the outside is the most generous and caring thing we can do. The student has become the master and I couldn’t be prouder.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are 100% my own.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]