My 6 year old granddaughter always wore her tender heart on her sleeve, wanting to be cuddled and to cuddle; who literally stroked people with fondness; whose eyes would well up with tears at any unkindness, even if it were not directed at her.
Irresistible in her transparent love and care for everyone.
Well, not irresistible to quite everyone.
She often took a hammering from her siblings -
Young peers do not always take kindly to such vulnerability. In fact can find it annoying and cloying.
And a wonderful target!
Recently her mom, DD2, told me that this child and her 9 year old sibling were getting along way better than before because
"She has toughened up a lot, mom. She stands up for herself and fights back now"
Part of me was so happy for the child: because she did go through a lot of heartache
But another part of me wanted to break down and weep
That such sweetness had to be laid aside, hidden away -
And that she, at 6, had learned that this is necessary for emotional survival on this beautiful, sad planet!
Maybe, no - certainly, we have all done this to some degree: it is just more evident in her.
She has had to learn behaviour that is unnatural to her; learn to violate her own gentle and caring nature in order to "fit"
In order not to be emotionally broken before she reaches double figures.
In fact, she has had to manufacture a persona to hide behind.
I have quite a lot to do with young women -
These women are functioning well but many of them have become aware that there is a 'trueness' lost. And a desire to find that again.
So many of them are trying to surface their real selves that they have buried just to cope with people, with life.
I believe this is true of most of us.
To see this 6 year old putting these coping mechanisms into place at the one end of the process
Against the backdrop of these women's efforts to reverse it, is an emotional thing for me.
I wish she didn't have to do it:
I know she has to.
May she learn how to guard her heart without hardening it.