Integrity and the Case of Yellow Sneakers

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Yesterday, as we were eating dinner, I asked the girls for some school stories.

I then reminded Emma to alternate the shoes she wears everyday as to somewhat preserve their condition.  I asked her if the kids in 6 grade made fun of the sneakers I had bought from Korea for $6 online.  She said no because of what had happened regarding her previous sneakers that she used to wear early last year.  Apparently, kids would whisper behind her back, making fun of her inexpensive unbranded shoes, while some kids would shout “what are those?!” in front of her.

Instead of getting upset, I asked her how it made her feel, and she shrugged it off.  I asked her how she handled the situation, if she was vocal about it, or just kept the hurt to herself.  “I know what you’re saying in back of me,” she said to her classmates, “and the reason I’m wearing these sneakers is because my mom doesn’t want to spend that much on sneakers.” She mentioned that she had to explain this to multiple people. After her ability to confront her fashion police, she wasn’t teased anymore.

Now, what these youtube influenced kids don’t know is that Emma used to wear expensive sneakers, ones with a limited lifespan because she is an aggressive athlete, also an aggressive student in Filipino martial arts. If sneakers were too legit to quit, all her sneakers had a legitimacy of an alternative fact, which is why I can’t bring myself to spend over $60 on sneakers she will demolish and outgrow. I”m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

As upset as I should be with those kids in her class that “know” her spirit and kindness and yet find a way to hurt her, I focused on Emma’s face as she told me the story. She bore no bitterness nor hatred, despite some embarrassment.  She still came home from school with smiles and stories everyday, and she never tried to retaliate by talking badly about those kids. But as I focused on Emma’s reaction to being the victim, I admired 1) her ability to be honest and vocalize her acknowledgement of what was being said 2) her disregard to comply with the popular sentiment that she needed to conform to her peers’ standards 3) her maturity to compartmentalize her hurt and disappointment and yet act with integrity. 

I told her that as she gets older, people will only find more ways to discredit her for things bred by their misperceptions.  But as much as she might want to metaphorically use the Sword of Grayskull, Sword of Omens, and Sight Beyond Sight, mixed with her mom’s DNA, she doesn’t need their affirmation because she already has it from the people that love her, from God who created her, and hopefully finds the strength to pray for those who mistreat her (Luke 6:28).

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