Learning to Speak Up

On one of our recent visits to the library, C pointed to a boy and informed me, “He took E’s book.” It turns out that E had been handing her a book when it got intercepted by a small chubby hand. E, being the person that he is, remained silent and didn’t react. Meanwhile, C, being the much more feisty person that she is, instructed me to retrieve the book.

I thought to myself, Aiya. Do I have to? 

First of all, I don’t like talking to strangers unless absolutely necessary and secondly, I dislike confrontation even more. So for me to approach someone – even a 3 foot someone – and point out the error of his ways had me shaking in my boots (summertime) flip flops.

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

As I debated what to do, I knew I had two choices. I could let the incident slide or I could speak up. The obvious answer was to go with door #2, but the problem is that I have always been a door #1 kind of girl.

Memories flashed through my mind of all the times I should have spoken up, but didn’t. Like in elementary school when a friend ordered me to play the part of a horse so she could ride around on my back. Or the time the dentist noticed tears forming in the corners of my eyes during my wisdom teeth extraction and realized I needed more anesthesia. Looking back, I know I should have expressed my feelings and needs in those situations, but I stuffed them down instead. The child me (and even the young adult me) didn’t believe I had the right to speak up, but the adult me is realizing that I do.

And the mama me really wants my kids to know they can always speak up, too.

So I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and walked over to the little boy. I told him, “My son was giving that to his sister” and pointed to the book in his hands. He looked up at me and handed the book over without a single word. I clutched the book like a trophy and delivered it to C, all the while wishing I could high-five myself. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. And one I am building upon as I grow braver and stronger each day.

Take a listen to this cover by Boyce Avenue of John Mayer’s song, “Say”. The lyrics say so much:

Walkin’ like a one man army
Fightin’ with the shadows in your head
Livin’ out the same old moment
Knowin’ youd be better off instead
If you could only

Say what you need to say

In what ways have you grown braver and stronger?

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