Boy, do the girls grow up fast!

Well, I think we are entering the wonderful world that so many Moms with older girls know better than I do – the world of the hair/fashion/jewelry/makeup obsessed tweenager. Until now, dressing with a brace has not been much of an issue – my daughter would wear her bodysuit, brace, and a dress or skirt to hide the bulges of the plastic. But, now (at almost 10), she has begun to care…. She cared before, don’t get me wrong, but the pinks that she got so excited about are now “little girl pinks” and she’s much more interested in what is fashionable than in what is comfortable (or easy). *double sigh* She still just looks longingly at the jeans, though, but knows she would be so uncomfortable in them that it would not be worth the purchase. She doesn’t seem to necessarily MIND, she just thinks they are cute and thinks she would have fun wearing them. Much in the same way I look at skinny jeans and think the same thing (while knowing it would not be WISE for me to wear them). But, I have a feeling we have just reached the tip of the iceberg, and I have a bigger feeling that she is going to care WAY more about fashion than I ever did. So, I guess I can just sit by, lend my practical, motherly advice, and continue to go with the flow.

I have been pleasantly surprised this season at all the brace-friendly fashion choices out there, though – maybe I’ll put together a better article next week with some examples. I’ve noticed a lot of stretch knits, leggings, layers, long tunic tops, long tops with flowing vests over them….these are all very brace-friendly. The fabrics can be a bit thin (showing off her brace underneath), but we avoid those and move on. I’ve also noticed a lot of sequins – great for distracting the eye from the bumps and bulges of a brace underneath. So, the good news is that girls can follow the fashion trends this season and still dress brace-friendly. The bad news for me is that I guess this is something I have to care about now…because my daughter does.

Sometimes you just have to let it (the brace) go…

Don’t let the title deceive you…my kids are still happily braced. But, there are times when, in order for kids to be kids, that the brace has to go – although temporarily. For example, we recently took a camping trip to Michigan’s Adventure. There are two parks in one there – a regular amusement park with roller coasters and all sorts of rides, and a water park. Basically you are soaking wet all day – hot, sunscreened, wet, and nasty – and I did not know HOW we were going to manage the braces during our park days. We did a good 8 hours each day at the park, taking a break to head to the car in the parking lot for a snack break. We didn’t even want to wait in the long lines for the changing rooms in the park or worry about getting lockers big enough for our stuff and the braces. So, we took a deep breath, exhaled, and just let it go… my kids spent those two days (but not the nights, evenings, and early mornings) out of their braces – just being kids. They didn’t have to worry about not being comfortable as they jostled around on the roller coasters or needing a place to put the braces in a crowded water park – they were just allowed to be carefree – and FREE – for two days. By the end of the second day, though, my daughter said she was anxious to get the brace back on. She said her body felt tired and achy and needed the support. That is proof right there that she DOES need the brace – but not in perfect compliance every day. During the school year and cooler months, they are both willing and very compliant 22 hours a day. But, some days are meant for freedom. And, over time, they will remember fun days at the park, that weren’t overshadowed by the inconvenience of dealing with their braces.

Every Little Girl is Born a Princess

This past weekend was a big one for us – not only was it my birthday Saturday (35 years young!) and our Anniversary today (13 years and still happy!), but my daughter and I had the privilege to perform on-stage with a wonderful group of people in the Thumb Area Community Theater’s production of “A Little Princess”.  The story (based on a novel  of the same title by Francis Hodgson Burnett), follows a young girl, Sara Crewe, as she becomes a pupil at the Evil Miss Minchin’s Boarding School in late 1800s London (I was that EVIL lady!)  There, she meets many wonderful friends (including Ermengarde St. John, played by my daughter), but loses her fortune (and her favor with Miss Minchin) in the process.  Even as a poor young servant, Sara was a Princess – in spirit, attitude, and in her generosity towards others.  I (as Miss Minchin) got my due in the end, of course.  We had a good time putting on the show, and will miss our fellow cast mates very much.  One thing that struck me throughout the process, however, is how the young women in the show with us were really, truly Princesses.  Now, I learned a long time ago, that all young women who recognize God as their King, are naturally his children, and, therefore, true Princesses.  But, these young girls acted the part – they were kind, generous, and helpful to each other.  What really impressed me was how they treated my daughter as she revealed to them the challenges she faces with her Scoliosis – they all asked about her brace early on, and my daughter was perfectly willing to talk about it.  She also told them what Scoliosis was, and assured them that she was fine.  There were even some jokes throughout the production about her “armor”.    But, what really exemplified royal behavior was that nobody teased her about it – the ONLY jokes about it were from her – nothing cruel, nothing snide, no behind-the-back whispers.  I continue to be impressed as she meets young ladies and they continue to be accepting of her.  Now, I know that many people out there with disabilities deal with teasing and cruelty from their peers – kids can be very cruel.  But, just remember, EVERY girl is a PRINCESS – if someone doesn’t accept you for who you are – brace and all – then they are not WORTHY of your presence – they are not FIT for ROYALTY.  You WILL find friends who love you and accept you for who you are, and then you are with much better company.  Let the court that surrounds you be those worthy of you – if you are in a brace, surrounded by armor, remember you are also surrounded by God’s never failing love – he will carry you through that difficult time.

Another theme of the play dealt with the importance of a girl’s earthly Father in her development as a Princess.  Psychologists have known for years the importance of a young woman’s relationship with her Father being a major factor in the development of her self esteem, and this play exemplified that.  I was very blessed with an amazing Father, and so is my daughter – but, I’ve known young girls who do not have that steady, protective force in their lives.  Again, if you do not have a strong earthly Father in your life, remember to make an extra effort to know your heavenly Father.  And, spend time with a Grandfather, Uncle, or someone close to you that you can trust.  This blog entry is dedicated to all the Princesses out there and their Dads – especially our Princess, who doesn’t let a little extra armor stand in her way!