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I press play and she leans into my chest. I can feel her smiling because I’m smiling, too.  She’s currently in a Trolls phase and we watch the movie once a day, at least, and we blast the soundtrack whenever we’re in the car. Voices of celebrities I practically grew up with surround us; they’re new and exciting for her yet familiar and nostalgic for me. The songs takeover and we’re both singing along.

You with the sad eyes...

Small creatures with crazy hair dance and talk on screen and she jumps up to join them, acting out her favorite parts. She’s memorized their actions and words and recites them all. The scene ends and she crawls back into my lap tucking her arms into my chest, careful not to spill the popcorn, and she leans her little head on my shoulder. “Shhh,” she says. I’m still singing without even realizing it.

Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize, it’s hard to take courage...

She tells me a story about someone bossing her around on the playground and I listen, torn between thoughts of disapproving and accepting, necessary evils. She’s a bit bossy herself so while I would never want someone to walk all over her, we all grow from challenges and it could be a good thing to not get her way from everyone she meets. Sometimes it's okay to take a step back if only to see the best path to take moving forward.

In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all...

She says she didn’t say anything when it happened but made a note that next time she wanted to choose the game. Fair is fair. Then she told me another story when she said something to a friend that wasn’t very nice and when questioned about it, she cried. “It felt wrong and I knew I shouldn't have said it,” she admitted, practically growing up between her words. Tears formed in her eyes at the recollection. Tears formed in my own at the realization.

The darkness inside you can make you feel so small...

She said she apologized afterwards and I let her know that’s often the hardest part. The admitting and acknowledging and accepting and apologizing, it doesn’t get easier. It’s best to learn that lesson now because it’s one she’ll reference over and over again. We talked about her inner voice and the feeling she gets when she listens to it versus when she ignores it, happiness versus guilt.

I see your true colors shining through...

The troll with the pink hair talks about getting back up again after she falls and facing fear and chasing dreams, Poppy is Madison’s favorite. Madison is my favorite. We watch a town full of evil give in to joy and see a troll full of sadness laugh again. I watch her skin thicken and her heart soften. The animated characters warn her that the world makes you crazy, they tell her to just call me up because I'll always be there. It's true, I remind her of the same.

I see your true colors and that's why I love you...

The credits roll and she asks to dance along as she always does. We twist and turn in the middle of our living room. We're both off beat and she's standing on my toes, but our laughs drown out the music so it all seems right in the moment. I pick her up, holding her like the baby she once was, and I spin around quickly so her hair fans out above her head like a troll's. I can feel her smiling because I'm smiling, too.

Don't be afraid to let them show... your true colors are beautiful.


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