Childhood, Childhood Memories, Myrtle The Purple Turtle

What Makes You Different….

No child wants to be different. To be taunted for something you can’t change.

I know.

I wanted dark hair, like everyone else. Instead, during childhood, I had flaming reddish hair. “Reds” was the kindest of my nicknames.

I loved playing — boisterously — with my sisters and friends. Suddenly, I was struck with childhood epilepsy, and — over several years — would have to frequently retreat to quiet spaces. While my friends played, I read books, kept a journal and sometimes wrote little stories.

I grew to love reading and writing and — thank goodness — my family nurtured this love.  I read so well that my mother and grandmother sent me to read the Bible and newspaper to elderly patients in the local infirmary. 

It was my first “job” as a volunteer, but a weird role for a small child. I didn’t want to do it at first. I wanted to be out playing, like the other children.

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How was I to know that the very things that made me odd would also make me strong? 

That having reddish hair in childhood would strengthen my empathy towards “different” people, persisting long after my hair colour had gradually darkened on its own?

That having epilepsy — being forced to slow down and read — would nurture my love of stories and words and expand my view of the world outside our small village?

That all of it, even reading the news to elderly people, would help prepare me for rewarding careers in television, community service,  and — more recently — in publishing?

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If I could, I’d tell every child in the world:

Don’t hate the things that make you different. Love them. Because the very things that you’re teased for, even excluded for, will provide some of your greatest strengths.

I’d say:

See the teasing and strange looks as proof that you’re wonderful.

It’s painful now, I know.

It’s hard to believe now, I know. 

Try to believe it anyway.

I know.

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Dedicated to every child who feels different, including a very bright young girl with purple glasses whom I recently met.

#loveyourshell

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Childhood, Mixed-Race Hair, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Self-Esteem

Myrtle the Purple Turtle: Book Review

Blogger Friends: 

I was moved by this post by Erin Taylor on Facebook and wanted you to read it. I asked her permission to share it here. Erin and her family live in Southern Ontario. 

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I’m so honoured to have had the chance to review the book, “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”, by Cynthia Reyes.  As an educator, and mother of young children, I really appreciate when I find a book that speaks to important social issues that our children should be aware of and taught about appropriately.

Having children of mixed race, I want to ensure that they embrace their unique qualities and are proud of who they are and who their parents are.

Blog Photo - Layla reading Myrtle

My daughter Layla has spent many mornings shedding tears over the fact that her hair is dark and curly. She wants straight, blond hair like most of her friends. We try to explain to her that her hair is what makes her unique!

A few months ago a lady came up to me and asked about Layla’s hair. She made comments about how she feels bad for her, for having hair like “that” and how much she must hate her curly hair. I was in complete shock! Not only were her comments inappropriate, but she also said them in front of Layla. These comments were very hurtful to a young child’s developing self esteem.

“Myrtle the Purple Turtle” is a wonderful story about a turtle who is ashamed of her colour. Myrtle was being made fun of for being a purple turtle, not a green turtle. The story takes you on a journey of the feelings Myrtle goes through after being ridiculed. In the end, she has friends that help her come to the realization that she is a beautiful, unique turtle, and should not be ashamed of who she is.

Blog Photo - Layla holding Myrtle

Thank you very much, Erin.

Note to Layla from Cynthia:

Layla, my dear, you are beautiful and unique, as is your gorgeous hair. When I was your age, my hair was big and bushy and not easy to comb. When I got older, my friends envied my thick, shiny hair!  It was beautiful all along, but I didn’t know it when I was little. #loveyourshell.