On Monday morning Baby A looked outside and squealed, “Mommy! There’s a yellow bird in the yard!” I glanced and thought surely it was a leaf, or maybe a butterfly…but then I realized there were the most beautiful goldfinches playing chase through the backyard. They were amazing…so tiny, so fast, and their vibrant colors were truly stunning.
Our neighbor stopped by for a little bit, and we pointed out our little visitors to her. She told the girls a few fun facts about finches, including that the beautiful yellow ones we saw were males. I don’t remember the exact wording she used, but my mind was spinning to other animals – mostly birds, I think – for which the male has the more prominent display of colors.
Fast forward a couple of days, and the girls were chattering in the backseat on the way home from school, musing we hadn’t seen the finches again. B piped up, “The boy goldfinches are bright yellow, but the females aren’t as pretty.”
I almost stopped the car.
“Oh, Sweetie, the females are very pretty, too. All God’s creatures are beautiful, just as He made them. We know that the male goldfinches are more brightly colored than females, but all birds are beautiful, right? The females flit around super quickly, just like the males, and that’s pretty amazing to watch, isn’t it?”
I didn’t push it any further, and the girls quickly moved onto something else…but the conversation still sticks in my mind.
I generally shy away from the word “pretty”. I most often tell the girls how radiant they are, and they can define that that implies beauty and light. I love the “light” component of that word…light, and energy, and curiosity, and zest…everything that is a precious child.
I use the word beautiful, too, but I try to define it in a much larger context…as in, “She is such a beautiful person. She is so kind and thoughtful.” Or, “These illustrations are so beautiful. I love how the artist captured the details of the water. Can’t you almost just feel it between your toes?”
Of course I think my girls are pretty. They are gorgeous! They are stunning! They are amazing! But I want to continue to instill in them that there are many, many ways to be “pretty”…or radiant, as I prefer to call it.