She plopped onto the couch and shook her head. “I am so tired of being the shortest kid in my class.”
I sat down next to her. “What happened?”
“We picked teams for volleyball today,” she said, “and like always, I was the last one picked.”
“Well,” I said, trying to lighten the mood, “That’s what I call saving the best for last!”
“Seriously Mom, I can barely reach the top of the net – let alone spike a ball over it!”
“Listen to me," I said. "You’re a great kid. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
Emily sighed. “You always say that.” She looked down and picked some nail polish on her little finger. “I just feel, you know, like nothing special.”
A few weeks later Emily faced another challenge when we shopped for a dress for her Christmas program.
“I don’t like it.” Emily crossed her arms and stared into the department store mirror.
“I think it looks cute,” I said, tilting my head to the side.
“Mom, I am not wearing ruffles or bows to my Christmas program.”
I guess I couldn’t blame her. Most of her friends wore trendy clothes from the junior department, but Emily couldn’t fit into those sizes.
I glanced down at the shoes she had snatched from a display. “Oh Em, those heels look almost dangerous to walk in.”
“They’re fine.” She took a couple wobbly steps. That girl, I thought, she’d try anything to look taller.
The school year continued, but every now and then Emily still had rough days. I tried my best to encourage her.
“You know what, Em? You’re a good student and a great kid.”
She rolled her eyes but I continued anyway.
“You’re kind and thoughtful – and you’ve got a big heart. Those are the things that matter – not how tall you are.”
I knew she heard me; I just wasn’t sure if she believed me. Then one day I got a phone call from the principal.
“Okay …” I began, “I’m actually not familiar with-”
“It’s a program our school participates in every year. All of the students vote for one boy and one girl based on behavior, strong character, leadership skills and academics.”
“So Emily’s classmates picked her?”
“Yes they did,” the principal said. “It was actually a landslide.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
That afternoon after school Emily dashed through the door.
“Mom! Did you hear the news? Did my principal call?”
“Yes she did.” I said, putting my arm around her and giving her a squeeze. “And you know what I think?”
Emily looked up at me, grinning.
“Maybe you are the shortest kid in your class, but it sounds to me like your classmates look up to you.”