Sophie is the 7th child of 8, and the 4th daughter of our family, and she mistakenly believes she is the only one without any special talents.
“I can’t play the piano like Immy.”
“Callum and Immy and Charlotte can sing, and I can’t.”
“I can’t run as well as Gemma-Rose.”
She doesn’t see that she can do all these things, and will excel at them, like her siblings, if only she perseveres. She gets discouraged when she thinks she doesn’t measure up and gives up trying.
On our way down the main fire trail, Gemma-Rose stumbled over a loose rock and fell, grazing a hand and a knee. She shed a few tears and I decided to take her back to the ‘pits’, where we leave our water bottles. I told Charlotte and Sophie to go on without us. So they continued down the track, side-by-side.
Later when they reappeared, Sophie had a huge grin on her face. “As we were running along, Charlotte told me all about muscles and how they tear and heal and grow bigger with use. I like talking to Charlotte.”
Sophie ended up running further than normal, and she ran at her older sister’s faster pace. And she obviously enjoyed herself.
Today Gemma-Rose was back in front, and Sophie was lagging behind the pack again.
“My knee hurts.”
“I feel sick in the stomach.”
It seemed Sophie had one problem after another that was preventing her from running well.
“Do you want to go home?” I asked.
I almost took Sophie home, but instead said, “You could run with Charlotte.”
“Yes, run with me,” Charlotte encouraged.
Sophie instantly forgot about her sick stomach and headed down the track, in the lead, for our final lap. Charlotte chatted to Sophie as they ran. Gemma-Rose and I stayed out of the way. And Sophie did a wonderful run. She had a huge grin on her face when we got back to the pits. She even looked like she was prepared to head out for another lap.
“Wow! Good work, team!” I said. “We worked hard today.” Sweat was dripping off us. “Great run, Sophie! You ran up that hill fast. I couldn’t keep up. Are you glad you ran that final lap with us?”
Sophie nodded, that huge smile still on her face.
Tiredness, sore knees, sick stomachs? I think the real problem was discouragement and a lack of confidence.
I thanked Charlotte for taking an interest in Sophie, for encouraging her along. “You’re her hero, you know.” Charlotte smiled but looked a bit doubtful.
Later, I took Sophie to town to buy her some new running shoes (and have some one-on-one time) and we chatted while I drove.
“A lot of people think you have to be tall to be beautiful,” said Sophie. “But that’s not true. Charlotte is my idea of a beautiful person.” (My third daughter is very much on the short side.) Yes, Charlotte is definitely Sophie’s hero. (Sophie doesn’t realise she is actually a very beautiful person herself.)
“It’s a pity it’s a rest day tomorrow,” sighs Sophie.
“You want to try out your new shoes?” I ask.
“I bet you’ll run like the wind in those shoes.”
I imagine Sophie flying along the track, out there in front, leading the pack.
When a girl receives some encouragement from a mother… or a super-hero sister… she can achieve anything. Sophie is smiling. Perhaps she is starting to believe this too.