Caroline’s favorite Christmas present was a pink-and-chrome scooter with gaudy light-up wheels. At first, she teetered and tottered, wobbled and fell. Again. And again. And again. Bruises spread up her shins.
Not once did she get frustrated.
Yesterday, a whiz of pink-and-chrome streaked by me in the hallway, nearly flattening my toes. I think she’s getting the hang of it.
One of the things I adore about raising girls is the fascinating case-study I get into my own sex. Men say they’re baffled by women, and I don’t blame them. I haven’t wrapped my mind around us either! So I watch my girls, and think often about what culture, the Bible, denominations, and media say about females.
My mind is changing about what it means to be a girl.
Growing up, if you’d asked anyone to tell you whether my sister was the more “girly” one, or if it was me, almost everyone would have pointed to me. At the time, I would have agreed. I was quieter, gentler, more cautious. My sister, on the other hand, is like my daughter Caroline; neither one of them would EVER let a pink-and-chrome scooter win.
And me? I’ve never ridden a scooter in my life.
(Confession: I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was ten!)
I’m not sure why we define femininity only by it’s gentle side. There is certainly a place for females to stand strong.
My sister and Caroline make me want to stand and clap. I’m starting to celebrate the tenacious kind of girly. Being quiet, gentle, and cautious have their place in every life, male and female. But so do qualities like persistence, backbone, and wild, loud joy. I have a special admiration for those who have characteristics which come harder to me.
This is my long-winded way to tell you about Caroline’s upcoming birthday party.
For two years, I’ve been begging Caroline to let me give her a flower party.
“It’ll be fun! We’ll paint flower pots, make your cupcakes look like flowers, have floral invitations…”
Caroline never bit the bait.
Her favorite color may be pink, but her brand of girly is different from mine.
And then at Christmas, my brother and his wife bought the girls gorgeous pink and orange superhero capes, and superhero arm bands.
And Caroline became determined that she should have a superhero birthday party.
The prissy side of me bristled. That’s for boys, I thought.
I told Caroline I’d think about it. In truth, I hoped she’d forget her request.
I’m not sure what changed my mind and made me okay with the idea of a superhero party. Maybe it was watching Caroline master that scooter. Maybe it was admiring her ever-bruised and skinned up legs, which she covers in pink Barbie band-aids. Maybe it was listening to her sob angrily at injustice after school one day, as she told a story about fiercely defending her sister on the playground.
But at some point I thought, “You go, Caroline. You be a super girl. Be tough.”
What do I care if my daughter is ambivalent about flowers? Flowers are lovely, but they’re also fragile. I want a daughter whose gracefulness is upheld by the strength of her love.
Is strong love a superpower?