It’s a good thing we didn’t tell the minute clinic about your 2 pack a day habit during your flu shot.
It’s a good thing we didn’t tell the minute clinic about your 2 pack a day habit during your flu shot.
Dear Little –
Last night, we were reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, a bedtime story book with 100 impactful, strong, game-changing women that is written in the familiar, “Once upon a time” format that all good bedtime stories follow.
We were reading about Lella Lombardi and Malala Yousafzai last night when you asked, “Momma? Is there a part of the world where girls have to tell boys they can do everything? Are there places where boys are shot for going to school? Can girls drive race cars and tell boys they can’t do it? Is there any place like that? Just one? Do girls go to the moon somewhere in the world and there is only one boy from that place that went?”
While there are 6 modern societies where women are in charge, there are no documented places in the world where young men are shot in the head for going to school because their place is in the home.
There is no place where a white man will make 75% of the income a woman will make (or less).
While I love this book, I don’t think every girl should have Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls on their bookshelves because girls know they are capable of moving mountains, going to the moon, changing cultural norms, work a job while raising a family, or making the decision to do none of these things. This book does empower, provide context, highlights history, and most importantly, you absolutely adore this book (we have read it every night this week and you keep asking for more). It’s a bonus book for young girls.
But, I really, really, honestly, truly, and every other -ly word I can use to put emphasis on this next point, every young boy should have this book on his bookshelf. Every young boy should have a parent recite these tales over and over and over again until it’s clear as day girls are mighty. Every young boy should read this book until it’s not even a big deal at all and it’s as much part of the human fabric as breathing. Every young boy should hear these stories and see how truly unequal things still are for the girls they befriend.
You don’t have to tell a girl she’s mighty when she’s young – every girl knows it in her bones. It’s later when they are told they can’t accomplish something and start to believe it, start to doubt themselves (in my case, a science teacher in middle school embarrassed me in front of the class with a science project on osmosis). We need young men to stand up for these young women and girls, and it starts with books like these. This book should be read in elementary schools to all students. The sympathetic, half-hearted, ‘Sure, girls can do anything. Just sit over there while I do man stuff,” isn’t the same as truly being supportive and being absolutely inclusive. It’s that attitude that allows stories like this to continue existing in 2017. And while it’s true there are more women in science, in math, in physics, in astronomy, in sports, in politics, in video game development, the idea that there is a small group of hard-working pioneering women in these industries that have to work so much harder to be taken seriously as professionals while also battling blatant sexism in these formerly male-only professions makes it tempting to say, “See? There is equality! There are girls here. We’re fine. And while we’re at it, I’ll tell you how to do your job better because I’m a dude.”
Girls can do all of these things and bring a different perspective to the table. They have every opportunity to shine, if only they weren’t also fighting sexism, the ol’ boys club, and mansplaining on the daily. We’re getting there, but it’s something that’s still quite prevalent, and something you will likely need to deal with.
It starts with a spark, and girls have that spark. It takes a supportive community, including men and boys, to keep that spark growing into something much brighter. This is why young boys should have this book on their bedside table. Girls know they can. Boys need to know it, too.
Goodnight, my Rebel Girl.
You turned 5 yesterday. I wanted to write about all the changes you’ve made, the places you might go, and how I can’t believe you are a full-blown kid.
More importantly than that, it’s time to talk to you about standing up to bullies.
You recognize that sometimes the “bad guys” say “mean things” in cartoons and that Batgirl, Bubbles or Pinkie Pie will come around the corner, do the right thing, and everything is fine. That’s an important lesson to learn right now. Because you are five.
When you read this in 10, 15, 20 years, it’s critical to recognize that the bad guys are still easy to spot but standing up might seem much harder. Here’s a clue. If a group of people are holding torches and are supported by the KKK; if that group is waving Nazi flags and beating up people; if that group is shouting in a threatening manner – perceived threat is a real threat- I hope you stand solidly on the side everything that is NOT that.
There is no “but.” There is no “they have a good point.” There is no “on both sides.”
There is something to be said about finding a middle ground in many cases. Compromise can be good and is necessary. For instance, we might be wishy-washy on what kind of house to get (still looking for our third summer). Your dad and I are compromising on an expensive purchase. It’s fair that since we’ll both be living in the house, we both get most of what we want for a reasonable price. That’s compromise.
Choices: it often takes me 20 minutes to pick the right kind of peanut butter because *choices*, or choosing how to prepare potatoes for dinner can be *hard*. However, let me be perfectly clear: there is no choice when it comes to bullies.
If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people, supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground. You should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.
There is no middle ground for people who march in protest of hating an entire other group (or groups). If the circumstances involve a group of people marching with torches intending to harm or threaten another group of people and that group is supported by the KKK, then there is absolutely no middle ground.
I can’t say it any other way. I’m beating this into your skull as many times as I can.
Whatever happens in your life, you should stand solidly on the side that is not supported by the KKK.
It’s not that hard.
There is a fallacy of false equivalence which is what, I think, complicates things if you are reading this as an adult. Let me be clear, Little (because no matter how much taller than me you will inevitably get, you will always be my Little.) If you are against the KKK or any other hate group, then you aren’t the opposite.
You are a decent human being.
Be careful – do not fail to stand up for what’s right because you are afraid to be seen as equally bad. You’re not. People might call you terrible things for standing on the side of right. Just follow these simple rules:
Don’t burn things to the ground.
Don’t instigate violence.
Don’t tip cars.
Don’t jump into the mob unless you know exactly what’s going on.
Glass shattering? Please don’t. You could get a nasty cut and an infection. Plus, destruction of property is illegal.
Ask people who are being bullied, harassed or otherized how you can help effectively. I’ve screwed up in that way, even just a few days ago at the park. I asked a friend how can we get more people of color to attend rallies, and he very honestly, candidly, openly told me I was asking the wrong question. And he’s right. He is presenting tonight and we are going to support him, his family, our city, and our fellow citizens. But we have to do more. It’s not up to me to figure out how to do more to make others feel comfortable – it’s up to me to have a conversation with someone to see what I can do to be supportive in a meaningful way. That’s harder to do, but it’s so very important.
But yes. If someone or a group is hurting someone you love, there is no equivalent.
You help. You help. You help.
If someone or a group is standing on the wrong side of history, waving symbols that are so clearly selected to threaten another group of people, even if you have no connection to that wronged group, you stand up.
You stand alongside those who can not defend themselves or those who are hoarse for yelling for so long they need support. You stand in front of those who can not defend themselves or are too tired to fight any longer.
You help. You help. You help.
You are 5 as of yesterday. It’s the year 2017 and I can’t believe I have to send a message to future you about the KK fucking K.
I love you. Please, be good. Be good. Be good.
Also, don’t say the F word. It’s not ladylike.
Last year, I wanted nothing more than to take you swimming. My goal was to teach you over the summer.
And then, I fell and this is what I got to wear all summer.
(Not to be outdone, you broke your thumb falling out of bed a few months later. Apple…Tree. )
Anyway, so last summer was a bust for swimming lessons. But THIS year, free lessons at the local pool, the one we can walk to. So we joined a class with your friend, Zoe, who is a year younger than you. Zoe has taken the class before. You have not. And while I love that you are fearless and enthusiastic about swimming, you did not have the skills to keep up with the young lady to your right who kept “diving under” and swimming across the pool unassisted.
Overcome by your own enthusiasm and how easy it looked, you let go of the wall and…
immediately started to sink like a stone.
I jumped in (yes, wearing a bathing-suit, but also a dress, baseball hat, sunglasses, etc).
Sputtering, you looked at me and said, “Can I do that again?”
It was about this time the instructor realized that maybe, just maybe, you should have a flotation device, because while you are “4 and 11/12” (a running joke because your daddy works with numbers) you look like a 6-year-old — with confidence. So I can see why they put you in the category of “she’s got this.”
It’s going to be a long 10 lessons.
This morning, you were emphatic that your oakmeal was too hot.
No. Not a typo. This is how you say “oatmeal.”
And you get really upset if we try to correct you.
There are a series of words that I will be sad to see disappear as you get older.
So when you’re 14, please don’t roll your eyes at me when I ask if you need a boo-boo hat.
Today is July 4th, 2017. Without prompting, you put on this outfit.
“Oh, you put on the birthday hat because it’s our country’s birthday!”
“No? Did you know that today is America’s birthday?”
“Kiddo? What do you think the 4th of July is?”
“It’s fireworks day.”
“Fair enough. So you’re wearing the hat…”
“…because I like the hat?”
Can’t argue with that logic. You are mighty happy in that hat.
And while the outfit itself was totally unprompted, I’m happy it didn’t take too much prompting to get you to turn your racerback dress around before I took the photo and let you out in public.
Think about it for a second. You’ll understand. If racerbacks are out of style when you read this, Google it.
Dear Little –
When we went to our weekly library reading time, I told you something in the car. I said “Remember today, Ace. Remember today. Today is the day the first woman in our country’s history became the nominee for President.”
You did prove that you were way more perceptive than I assumed for a three-year-old, the conversation took an interesting, hilarious turn.
“So Hilary is running for President.”
“Is Donald Trump running for President?”
“But he’s so mean.”
“Yes, yes he is.”
“Can’t he just go to Saturn and bring all the mean people with him?”
If only we could find a way, Kiddo. If only we could find a way.
But there are mean people in the world. There will be mean people at the park, at the playground, in your preschool, and it sucks. It really, really does. In today’s world, it seems like there are a lot of mean people, mean ideas, and things that are unfair in ways that I don’t want you to understand just yet because you’re three. Just remember to treat everyone with kindness and empathy. If you see a bully, stand up and defend the ones getting picked on. Also remember that at times it feels like everyone is mean or angry, it’s not always the case. Look for the good in places when it looks pretty bleak. It’s there – you just have to find a way to find it.
Today, in the car, I asked you to remember something.
While we are in 2016, women and girls are not afforded equal pay for equal work in comparison to our male counterparts.
States around the United States of America – the country of which we are proud citizens – still continue to find loopholes that prevent women from getting affordable health care through groups like Planned Parenthood, or look for ways to keep private health discussions between a woman and her doctor.
Something no man has to endure.
Something that you, as a three-year old, kept asking while listening to the news, “Why are girls different?” And I answered truthfully.
Sometimes, when young people grow up into big people, we forget what it’s like to be a young person looking at things through just one lens: Fairness. If I give your friend Leo five crackers, and you one cracker, you would point out instantly that this wasn’t fair. Yet as big people, we deal with it all the time, and we sometimes don’t treat other big people fairly.
Yes, it took a lot longer than it should have to nominate a qualified lady to possibly become the leader of the free world. It really, really did take too long. She’s being judged in a lot of unfair ways because she’s a woman (and a lot of fair ways because of things she’s done). My hope is that maybe, just maybe, watching her ascend to the presidency (I can only hope) can give you a confidence that you can do anything, too. We are watching a woman who learned how to play the game that men have been playing for centuries without nearly the kinds of criticism that she’s enduring/will endure, and she’s doing it in a way that isn’t lowering herself to a bully’s game. I hope she can keep it up for the next 100 days.
I hope you use your powers for good. Maybe to even help other girls in other countries realize that they are equal, valuable and wonderful people, too. It’s hard, and a lot of mean things are going to happen to her and to other women who are confident, knowledgeable and successful. My hope is that this will diminish over time and that you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
My hope is you’ll read this in 20 years and think, “Oh, Mom. You worry wart. Always assuming the worst. It’s fine. Everything is rainbows and ice cream.”
That would be great. Ideal, even.
You’re a girl, kiddo. Maybe this century, girls can finally run the world and treat everyone fairly and equally.
This year, Halloween is going to be awesome. At age 3, you are able to make decisions about what to be for Halloween and help make your costume.
You are SO excited and have been since August when you decided you were going to be a Minion.
There are Minions up the Wazoo. They are literally in every aisle of every supermarket, coffee shop and 7/11. These walking Twinkies are just…everywhere. Getting a costume would be easy peasy, right?
The problem was this:
“Target only has 2 eye minions (I solved that problem – Thanks Etsy!). It took us 5 stores before I gave up and asked my friends on Facebook what to do for a plain yellow shirt because I guess yellow isn’t “in” this season. Someone had one and gave it to you because no store in a three town radius had a plain yellow shirt without butterflies on it, or The Gap blazoned on the chest.
In 2009, my step-father Dennis passed away. Just two months later, Maine banned same-sex marriage. It was about this time that I got this tattoo.
The symbol I wear on my right wrist is a symbol that was adopted by people who just wished to be accepted under law. I got this to remember Dennis. I get asked if he was gay – and I explain that he was the most fair and judicious person I met. Though no one in my family is openly gay, I found this symbol fitting at the time to honor Dennis, but also to say publicly that family is family – and sometimes that family isn’t “traditional.”
My family is non-traditional in that my dad (your Gimpy) has been married three times. My mom (your Nanny) has been divorced, and then lived with Dennis for 15 years out of wedlock. No one thought that their love at the time was worthy or unworthy. No one thought their relationship needed to be held up to national scrutiny. Though, there were problems after Dennis’ death with his Will and what was considered “family,” no one who knew us thought that we were anything less than part of his family.
When he died, it was terrible. People came out of the woodwork and questioned our relationship. It was all in the context of heightened emotions in the wake of his death. The funeral director looked down her nose at us and asked, “who are you” in the same tone that reminded me of a hostess in a 5-star restaurant judging my income and worth to sit somewhere for dinner. It was insulting. It was hurtful. It was not something anyone should go through in the wake of a loved ones death where emotions are at the rawest possible point a human can endure. We were demoted in the obituary to “friends.”
So when a mere two months later, my home state put the rights of many of my friends and their loved ones, their families, to a vote that said loud and clear, “YOU ARE LESS THAN THIS OTHER GROUP,” I wept.
I wept because that one instance in an otherwise 18 year relationship with a really great father figure overshadows everything else. When someone says “Dennis,” it’s unfortunate the first thing I think of is the way we were treated after his death. It might be fleeting and it might not last, but it’s always the first thing I think of before everything else.
I’m not saying what me, your Uncle Bud and Aunt Heather was anything close to what an entire group of people went through day, after day, after day, after day. They spent their lives fighting to see dying spouses in hospitals and being turned away because “legal spouses only are allowed”; “you can’t go on your partner’s insurance because you aren’t married in the eyes of the law”; people were killed because they were considered an abomination. That doesn’t even cover all the legal, emotional, and difficult decisions that were made to keep families together, often at very high costs.
Things that your dad and I are afforded with no extra steps, hoops, or national fanfare. For free. Because we’re married.
Today, that inequality for same-sex couples ended. Everyone can just be married.No gay marriage vs straight marriage. Just married. Just families. Families and marriage can be tough enough without the added drama of unfairness under the law, and for that I’m glad equality under law as the constitution intended (and explicitly states).
You’ll look back and think this is ludicris, and how backwards we were in 2015 just passing marriage equality. I wonder what the cause of your generation will be….but if you are gay, straight, or a tutu-wearing engineer on the moon, your dad and I will love to to the stars and back. I hope no on ever looks at you and says “and who are you,” because no one deserves to feel like that – even for one second.
Hey Kiddo –
I understand you need to have tantrums. I get it.
What I *don’t* understand is the full out sadness, tantrum, crying and unintelligible snot-filled babble at … the donut shop.
The donut shop, mind you, was at full capacity. In fact, there were only a dozen donuts left at 10:30 am, so to say they were “hopping” is an understatement. There were kids behind you who I’m sure had actual reason to be sad because we took 6 of the 12 donuts home.
You are in the happiest place on earth and you got the donut you wanted – so please, tell me, why are you crying?!?