My daughter told me that when she grows up, she’s going to be an inventor.
First on her list of inventions? Special gloves with gripping fabric that protect kids’ fingers from freezing on the monkey bars. Speaking of fingers, she’s also going to invent a Barbie doll with hands that flex. When I asked her why, she said Barbies need to be able to hold things.
“Like what?” I asked.
“Knives,” she replied.
I didn’t clarify if these knives were for cooking or something else. Some questions are better left unasked.
She also thinks Barbies should be able to wear regular shoes like boots and tennis shoes. Not just high heels because those aren’t good for running. And Barbie needs a backpack instead of all those glittery purses.
“For hiking?” I asked, warily.
“No. To carry books. Lots of books,” she said, looking very serious.
After explaining that she planned to give her inventions away for free, I reminded her that the revolution will not be funded, so she needs to make some cash. Her new plan is to sell the Monkey Bar gloves for $15 and the Barbies for $10.
I’m intrigued to see how this little girl turns out. Indeed, I’m intrigued to see how this entire generation of little girls turns out.
Girls who grew up with an African-American president, saw the rise and fall of the first female presidential candidate, sobbed when a “bully” was elected.
Girls who marched with their mothers and grandmothers or watched it on T.V., their eyes transfixed by this demonstration of women’s power and love.
Girls who know the phrases “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” but don’t know (yet) what they mean.
Girls who look to us, their terrified and enraged mothers, for reassurance and guidance.
Yes, I’m intrigued to see how they turn out. And I’m intrigued to see how we, their mothers, turn out, too.
The other day, my daughter asked if she could write on the computer.
“I want to be a writer like you,” she said.
So I dusted off our old laptop and we sat down together to write. I worked on my blog while she typed away.
“What are you writing about?” I asked.
“It’s a fairy tale,” she replied distractedly.
“That’s nice,” I said, going back to my own writing.
About 30 minutes later, she finished and asked me to take a look. So I read her fairy tale, which was infused with true love, magic, and the times in which we now live.
Her protagonist is a biracial princess named “Rapperpunzel” the only daughter of an African-American king who looks a lot like Barack and a white queen fashioned after her girl-crush Emma Watson.
Rapperpunzel chooses not to marry the Prince (they’re just really good friends) because she wants to focus on her work.
“What’s her work?” I asked. Delighted, surprised, intrigued.
Hoping that she would say “President of the United States” or “women’s right activist” or…
“Mom,” she said with a bit of attitude, “She’s a rapper. Get it? Rapperpunzel?”
I was a little disappointed. We were soooo close. But while it was not quite the answer I was expecting, that’s how this mother-daughter thing works. And how it always has.
We do our best as mothers to teach our daughters the lessons of our lives, but then it’s up to them to decide how they want to live.
The freedom to decide – to have options and to make choices unhindered by gender – that’s “taking on the patriarchy.” Regardless of what they choose.
As I watch her tap away at the keyboard, I realize that I’m no longer excited to see how she turns out, as if there is a “right way.” Rather, I’m excited to see her make choices about how she will live her life.
Freedom. Options. Choice. That’s the ultimate goal of the women’s movement and feminism.
And for me, that’s my goal as a mother.
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