Strong, Smart, Beautiful…Anything Else?

IMG_4989I recently spent a week in Virginia with my parents and my sister’s family. I had a lot of quality time with everyone, ate a lot of Gelati Celesti ice cream, played some games, and repeatedly tried to assure my cats that the visit was temporary.

One of my favorite things about going home is being able to spend time with my niece. I don’t have kids and probably won’t have kids, but I love being an uncle. Anna is almost 3 now, and it’s incredible to see her personality start to blossom.

I also got to see some of the traditions and rituals my family has adopted. My sister lives about 15 minutes from my parent’s house, so it’s almost like they’ve all combined to create this new family unit.

My favorite of those rituals is how they say goodnight to Anna when they’re together. They dim the lights, gather in a circle, and the first thing my sister says to Anna is, “Remember that you’re strong, you’re smart, and you’re beautiful.”

I really like the emphasis of those attributes. I like that beautiful isn’t first on the list, but that it still made the list. I like that strength is there, as it can mean many things (physical, emotional, etc.). And I like that smart is there too.

Apparently this is something my dad’s mother did at tuck-in when he was little, and those words really stuck with him over the years. They were words of reinforcement, encouragement, and affirmation.

I did have one thought, though, one that I shared with my sister when I got back to St. Louis. I mentioned to her the idea that “funny” could be added to the list. Anna is already developing a great, unique sense of humor, and I see humor as a really important trait in anyone (whether you’re witty or you’re able to laugh at yourself).

“Remember that you’re strong, you’re smart, you’re beautiful, and you’re funny.” I like that.

What would you put on your list of attributes worth affirming and encouraging at tuck-in time? (Update: People have mentioned “kind” and “creative,” which I really like on the list.) I’m sure I’m missing some good ones. Did your parents do anything like this when you were growing up?

6 thoughts on “Strong, Smart, Beautiful…Anything Else?”

  1. With ten plus kids to put to bed, I don’t recall my parents having any rituals like that. However, I do remember some of our shenanigans when Dad said to go to bed. Being an ex-army sargent, bedtime meant get in bed and lights out at a time which we all felt was too early. We would concoct games from bedroom to bedroom which usually resulted in a lot of giggling. My dad would shout up the steps and tell us to go to sleep. You see, if he had to come “up there” you were toast! Our favorite was to put both legs in one pajama pant leg and try to hop. Of course, if Dad did start coming up the steps you were doomed. Trying to race back to bed with both legs in one slot was impossible! The poor kid caught was given a swat and probably no dessert the next night. I do remember as we got older and my dad became a huge Garrison Keelor fan, he would tell us that the girls were all strong, the boys were all good looking and all of us were well above average. So we had no excuse for messing up!

  2. Rose: Thanks so much for sharing your childhood memory! That sounds like a playful way for you all to settle down for the night. I remember that I always wanted Mom and Dad to bring me a drink of water. That was really important to me for some reason.

  3. My favorite childhood bedtime ritual was storytime, during which my mom would be tucking me in and I would ask her for a story from her childhood. She would then climb into my twin size bed with me to snuggle while sharing some of her childhood adventures until I fell asleep. As I got older and started reading myself to sleep instead of needing to be tucked in, she would continue to share the same stories whenever the chance presented itself. Even though I’ve heard the same stories countless times (with more embellishment each time) and could probably tell them myself, it’s still fun to play along and act like it’s the first time I’ve ever heard about “the time when…” when she in storytelling mode (usually on long car rides when it’s just me and her in the car) because she loves telling of those long ago adventures she experienced with her siblings growing up.

    The concept of the nightly affirmation idea reminds me of this youtube video:

  4. I used to tell Alexis every night before bed that she was my favorite person. I would then follow with “you know why?” and she would tell me it was because she was smart, funny, kind, silly, beautiful and very important. (generally in that order). I should start doing that again.

  5. Katy: That’s wonderful that you ended every night with storytime, and it’s really neat that you got to learn about your mother from those stories.

  6. Joe: I REALLY like your inclusion of the word “kind.” I may have to let my sister know about that one. It’s also neat that you tell your daughter that she’s your favorite person–I can see that having a big impact on her.


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