Sunday, November 27, 2011

Laugh or Cry?

While we waited for our lunch to arrive at our table today, I looked over and saw this sight:

My daughter is not yet three. I fear that by the age of six she will be texting with one hand and, without looking up, reaching out and asking "Mommy, would you please hand me that latte?"

~ emrys

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Girls Will Be . . .

A recent posting on a blog I follow, during a rant against overprotective parents, schools, and communities, lifted up the ubiquitous aphorism "Boys will be boys." In my present context I hear this refrain used to excuse boys kicking balls in the house, hitting other kids when they're angry, and consistently choosing loud and dangerous activities over quieter, more intellectual pursuits. When I hear it used in narratives about adult males, it often excuses misogyny, driving fast and dangerously, and the willingness to eat food from someone else's plate at a restaurant.

I do not wish to take issue with "Boys will be boys" here.

But I have a daughter. My question is, What will girls be? To couch it in parallel terms: what would it mean to say, "Girls will be girls"? (My use of the phrase is speculative; I have never heard it said.)

May I say "Girls will be girls" in order to excuse time-sucking attention to wardrobe choices? Does it play as a reason to accept adopting a victim stance in situations of conflict? How about talking trash about other girls when they're not around? In the adult world, is it fair to say "Girls will be girls," and then accept a woman's use of her sexual charms to bait men? Or accept gossiping as an alternative to conflict resolution? Or explain away emotional outbursts?

If (we) boys get a bye on so many things because we're boys, I'd like to know in advance on what things my daughter gets a bye. I don't want to waste parenting energy on helping my daughter out of difficult behavior if I have the option of saying, "Oh, well. Girls will be girls!"


Monday, November 07, 2011


On Saturday we had friends over for lunch, adventures in the woods, and marshmallows roasted over the fire. For the first time this year I had the time and excuse to make a bonfire across the creek. I have oodles of leftover wood from various home projects (construction and demolition) whose finest end is to bring warmth and light to a chilly autumn evening. Long after our friends had left, I kept the fire going. Gwendolyn came to help.

Fire seems to draw all humanity into its ring of illumination, and my daughter is no exception. She quickly noted my use of a fire stick to move logs around. I set down the stick to get more fodder for the flames, and she went for it.

"I help," she said.

Having gone just out of reach and seeing her stepping boldly toward the roaring flames, I jumped back toward her. "No," I said. "I don't want you that close to the fire. When you're older, you'll be able to help stir the fire."

Gwendolyn stood still, watching the flames while I took the stir stick out of her grasp. I turned over a log, set the stick down, and went to retrieve more wood. When I came back to the fire, she had picked up the stir stick again and looked at me with the conviction that comes so naturally to a two-and-a-half-year old.

"I older," she said. Then she reached into the fire with the stick.

I laughed. "You're right, my lovely. And it looks like you've matured quite a bit in the last three minutes."

~ emrys