Growing up with a medical condition that required repeated surgery and having to withstand spiteful comments about my appearance from bullies, I had no choice but to develop a thick skin. I didn’t cry, I refused to give my bullies the satisfaction of seeing me cowed and humiliated, so I always fought back. I was my own fiercest ally and the only person I could fully trust.
But my stoic persona can’t withstand the acute pain of watching my child have her spirit crushed because she doesn’t quite fit the bill. She’s a beautiful girl, with a heart of gold who dreams of making her mark on the world. She also has dyslexia, which means she’s had to work twice as hard as her friends to get to where she is today. Her road is never going to be straight and smooth, but with determination, passion and a healthy belief in herself, she will make her dreams come true. There will be people along the way to support her, who will appreciate her for who she is, just as there will be those who sadly aren’t able to see beyond the dyslexic label, dismissing her as sweet and pretty, when the truth is she’s infinitely more than that.
Unlike me, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and I know I can’t shield her from the pain that life inevitably brings. But, I hope she will always feel safe enough to share her pain – and joy – with me, and that she’ll never grow a skin so thick she no longer feels anything.