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The Toilet Paper Scarf

April 23, 2014

My family was getting ready to head out the door to an evening school event for my 4-year-old daughter. We were running behind on this particular evening (nothing out of the ordinary for full family outings!). My 4 -year-old was in the bathroom and we were by the door ready to go. Finally, she emerges from the washroom with a gigantic smile on her face. I watch her skip along to the door and out to the car, as proud as can be, with a long piece of toilet paper swung around her neck like a scarf!

I looked at my husband, and said, “Is she wearing what I think she’s wearing?” He just shrugged and walked out to the car. I could feel my body almost freeze on the spot. In my mind, my first reaction was to ask her to remove that piece of toilet paper and explain it only belongs in the bathroom. I didn’t want other children to laugh or parents to snicker at her. But, as a Coach, I have learned some things about these hot button issues. When something gets you going, there is often more to it than meets the eye. I stayed curious to see what else might be there.

I asked myself, “so what if other people laugh?” Who made them judges of my daughter? Was the toilet paper scarf hurting her? No. “Okay, keep looking Carey-Ann. What is it I fear?” If children and other parents laugh at her, what would that say about me? Let’s make this about me because she is completely happy with what she’s wearing so this isn’t even about her. Perhaps others would think I was not a good parent. Now we are getting somewhere! So if my daughter wears something I deem inappropriate, this is more about a fear of what others think of me. When I can see that for what it really is, it prompts me to continue digging. I ask myself,” If other people don’t think I am a good parent, what does that mean about me?”

I am using a technique on myself that I call ‘peeling the onion.’ I teach my coaching clients to use it so when something bothers them, they keep asking ‘What would that say about me?’ The idea is to keep asking that question until you can’t dig any further. Nine times out of ten, the road will lead to a ‘Fear of failure or fear of not being good enough or the ultimate fear of not being loved/liked by others.’

When I realized the scarf was about my own fears and insecurities, I was able to change my perspective. Who am I to judge what she is wearing? And interesting that my initial fear about this appeared in my mind as a fear of others judging her. In fact, I was the one who was judging my beautiful daughter. My job is to defend her when needed and support her in any way that I can. Who knows, maybe someday she will be a fashion designer and experimenting with creative styles and different materials might be a seed that is planted now to help her develop.

I am not always the perfect parent, but in this moment, I celebrate. I was able to do this quick analysis in about a minute’s time and see what was really going on with me. I avoided a pointless argument and learned more about myself in the process. I was so happy that I just about grabbed a piece of toilet paper to swing around myself to join my daughter in her unique look for the evening. But then again, I need to be true to my own independent style. Maybe I’ll just leave the toilet paper on the roll!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 7, 2014 10:02 pm

    Love this article Carey-Ann!

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