Every night, after I lay Tori down to sleep, we have a little ritual.
“I love you,” I say.
“I love you too,” she replies.
“I love your nose,” I say, tweaking the appendage in question.
“I love YOUR nose!”
We repeat this scenario for all the major body parts—eyes, mouth, fingers, knees and toes. Then I kiss her good night and forget all about it until the next night. I assumed Tori did too.
But the other day, she proved she doesn’t.
I was lounging on the floor in my usual tank top and pajama pants. She was bouncing around on top of me, using my body as her own personal (squishy) jungle gym.
Suddenly, she stopped.
“What’s that mama?” she asked, pointing.
“That’s my arm, silly.”
“No, mama, that,” she insisted, scooching closer.
“My arm pit?”
“Uh uh. THAT!” Reaching forward, she grabbed the big skin tag that dangles there.
“Oh baby, don’t touch that,” I said, squirming away. “That’s gross.”
“What is it?”
“Oh, it’s…it’s just mommy’s skin.”
“Yeah. Skin,” I said, still uncomfortable.
“It not gross. It bee-YOU-tee-ful.”
I stared at her, speechless.
“I love your skin,” she said, petting it. Then, moving up to the moles on my face (another feature I badly wish would disappear), “I love your bumps. I love your nose. I love YOU! You’re pretty.”
Tears pricked at the back of my eyes as I gathered her into a hug.
“Thank you, baby. You’re beautiful too.”
Then, giving me a great big kiss, she skipped off to play with her dollhouse.
I’m trying so hard to teach her to love every piece of herself, but she’s the one doing the teaching. I hope I only hope I can learn to love myself—before she realizes that I don’t.
With a toddler, it’s monkey see, monkey do. But this time? It’s my turn to be the monkey.