An open letter to the mom who decided my daughter was “too old” for face-painting with Elsa

December 20, 2015

Dear frustrated Mom who missed out on the line for face-painting,

First, let me assure you that I’ve been there!

As a matter of fact, I think I can speak collectively on the behalf of the majority of Moms and say that many of us are “there” with you right now! The kids are officially on Winter Break. There are five days left until Christmas. Not only that, but it’s Sunday. Facing the stark reality that the time left to get things done is dwindling, most of us have spent the better part of the day (or weekend) dodging mobs to check the final items off of our holiday lists. And tonight wasn’t just an ordinary Sunday night to end this hectic weekend– this was the Sunday night of the neighborhood holiday celebration for the children. So your stress level? Your frustration? Yep- I hear you loud and clear, sister!

She waited in that line for over an hour, you know. The party was two hours long, in its entirety, and she spent over half of it waiting in that line to get her face painted by the one and only Princess Elsa. In that hour,  I was exceptionally proud of her and how she carried herself. For almost the entire time she waited, she didn’t fidget or fret, as she typically does given her anxious nature. She wasn’t even put-off when a group of younger girls (one of whom, I realized later, was your daughter) repeatedly walked in front of her to watch Elsa paint faces while they tried to decide if they wanted to wait in line. She just stood there with a calm that I don’t often see, enjoying some rare alone-time with her Mom- watching Elsa transform the other little girls into butterflies, fairies, and even a few superheroes. She stood there for an hour, and quietly waited her turn, because she was so excited to have Elsa paint her face.

Her name is Kaydence. She’s eight years old. EIGHT. YEARS. OLD. Still a baby in the big scheme of life. But you didn’t see that. At the end of the night, with fifteen minutes left in the party, your daughter finally decided she wanted her face painted. She went to the end of the line, and was turned away because the line had been closed some time prior.  Elsa had more than enough people who had been waiting to keep her busy until the end of the party. My daughter happened to be at or near the very end of the line.

You looked at my daughter, and you didn’t see an excited, yet patient little girl. Do you know what else you didn’t see? You didn’t see this same girl of mine, the oldest of three, outside going down the steep, and very fast snow tube slide with her five-year-old brother so he didn’t have to go alone, even though she is very much afraid of heights. You also didn’t see her freezing, after that, but remaining outside, because her three-year-old sister, who is most likely autistic, finally stopped crying and found some happiness over where the snow was being sprayed. You saw a “big kid”. You saw someone who was a full head and shoulders taller than your child in stature, and in your mind, that made her “ too big” to be there.

And you let it be known.

You let it be known, first, when you encouraged your daughter to move up closer to Elsa “so she could see”, and steered her to a spot to the left and a few inches in front of my daughter.  You let it be known when Elsa asked who was next and you let your daughter say “I am” without correcting her.  Finally, you let it be known when you complained about me being “as bad as the moms who waste everyone’s time bringing their teenagers to see Santa”, because I stood up for my daughter and simply said “No, sweetie, Kaydie is next in line”.

If I had to guess, I’d say your daughter is around five years old. I’m sure she worships the Ice Elsa walks on. I actually feel sad for you, because not getting her face painted by the One and Only probably resulted in a meltdown bigger than the kingdom of Arendelle itself thawing after the ice storm. But it was a great party! I’m sure that your daughter met Santa. Played in the snow (brought into our North Carolina neighborhood!!), went down the snow tube slide, rode the tram… was it really such a tragedy that she didn’t wait in that line for an hour?

I don’t expect you to understand this now, but in a few years, with a heavy heart you will:

At eight years old, Kaydence is on the cusp of non-believing. A big part of the the reason I stood in that line for an hour instead of encouraging her to partake in some of the other activities is because I don’t know if I will ever get that pure, innocent moment with her again. As swiftly as she grabbed my hand with her little ice cold one and pulled me inside towards Elsa tonight, she may be embarrassed to be seen there next year. She might think she’s “too old”. Or maybe she won’t, and you’ll see us there again.

I know one thing for darn sure- You don’t get to decide for her. In a few years’ time, I hope you are blessed with an eight year old daughter with as sweet of a spirit as Kaydence’s.

Lots of love,

A mom who says you’re never too old to have an innocent heart.

Angela Smith