Monday, March 28, 2011

Raising Girls

by Kris Pitcher

One of the things I love about traveling is the absolute social voyeurism. It's also what I hate about it...depending. Recently, we were about to board a flight with forty-seven teen-aged kids with violas, violins and other instruments in cases I couldn't identify. Their buzz drowned out the announcements, but then one of their chaperons began to line them all up for pre-boarding.

As she did, the rest of us began to form somewhat of a line. A man traveling with his daughter stood behind us. She was maybe ten or eleven. "How long ago was 1988?" She asked her dad. "Well, let's see. That was the year after I graduated from high school." He told her.

I was hoping he'd tell her it was not very long was the year I graduated. "A little more than 20 years." He told her. She was flipping through a "teen beat" type of magazine. As we waited on the jet way she said from behind her magazine, "He's an American playing a Candanadian. And she's a Candanadian, playing an American. See, it's the opposite. They're playing the opposite."

She was laughing and her dad chuckled. He didn't correct her, or tell her she was saying the word wrong. He just enjoyed that she found the irony in the actors playing the opposite. Later, as they sat in front of us on the plane, I watched him carefully take the braids out of her hair one by one. He twisted his long arms all around her head in his tiny space, gently pulling each one out. Then he made a motion for her to put her fingers in her hair and shake her hair out. All the while he looked at her with eyes who saw a princess.

See, raising girls is hard. Knowing when to correct...and when to let them just be right. When to not embarrass them in front of other people when it doesn't matter. These are the kind of moments which will shape who she becomes.

They're the moments that will determine her self-esteem, her confidence, and how she'll expect to be treated by men. I couldn't help in my social voyeuristic way to be awe-struck by this dad and his daughter. I was impressed by the gentle way he was with her. Especially amidst what can be so chaotic, travel.

This girl has a fighting chance. I hope you'll be gentle with yourself, and with the girls you know...after all raising girls is hard.

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