I heard the distressed voice travel up the stairs and gently hit my ears as a tiny whimper of defeat. I peeked over the top of the banister down to my four year old daughter. “What’s the matter Sugar Bear?” I asked tenderly, seeing she was genuinely sad.
“I’m trying to put on my princess crown, and it keeps falling off. When I put my head down it keeps falling,” she explained, her voice stressed as she tried to hold back tears of frustration.
I came down the stairs and sat on one of the bottom steps. Haley put on her crown to demonstrate the problem. After giving it a firm press with her little hands, she bowed her head and the crown slid down her face and hit the floor.
“See?” she whimpered. “I really want to wear it to the library and it keeps falling.” A little tear escaped and slipped down her cheek.
“Let me see here,” I said, knowing my attempt would be futile because the crown was, in actuality, too small for her head. My baby girl is growing! I could see, though, how important the feather and pink-jewel covered accessory was to her.
I placed the crown on her forehead and pushed it up and back like a head band.
“Owie!” Haley wailed. She let the tears spill over. The crown had squeezed her head too tightly and pulled at her hair. She took it off and slumped her shoulders; we looked at each other. Her sad, blue eyes wet with calm tears and her sweet little mouth down-turned in genuine disappointment were almost too much to bear. I lifted her up and pulled her close to me in tight hug. She rested her chin on my shoulder as I buried my face in her soft blonde hair.
“You know what?” I whispered, trying to hold back my own tears. I’m not sure why I was so emotional.
“You don’t need a crown to be beautiful. You are beautiful just the way you are.”
Haley was quiet for moment. She squeezed me a little bit harder and replied, “Okay.”
“I love you, Sugar Bear.”
“I love you too, Mama.”
I held her for a minute longer in silence, thinking about the impact of such simple words. Not just on my daughter’s tender heart, but on my own spirit too. I thought about I needed the reminder for myself, and how I wished I could accept those words as easily as my young daughter did. I am beautiful just the way I am.
With that we were off to the library. No crown needed.