Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup of Hope

For my 16th birthday, my dad gave me two tickets to a World Cup soccer game.
We drove 6 hours to Boston, parked our car, and walked in the searing summer heat to Foxborough Stadium.

As we entered the stadium and passed through the turnstiles, we mixed with thousands of fans in bright clothing, hopped up on adrenaline and the belief that their team would win.
Italians chanting, BAGGIO, BAGGIO and Nigerian drumming made it impossible to hear your own voice, or have a conversation.  We were swept along by the movement and sound, the excitement of nations coming together in competition.

We followed the sound of drumming and sat on open benches filled with more drummers and fans of Nigeria.   We stood most of the 90+ minutes of the match, dancing and shouting and cheering wildly. 

The game, one of the most exciting of that tournament, went into double overtime and then a shoot-out.   

When I look back at a photo taken that day, I barely look 16.  I am wearing half of an actual soccer ball on my head, a home-made hat I created specially for the occasion.  Jams had given way to baggy Umbros, and a world cup t-shirt.  It is strange to compare recollection to photographic evidence.  How I felt that day was high, giddy, and thrilled to be part of something so big.  I felt connected to the world through my love of soccer.  And that night, finally back in my own bed, exhausted, I dreamt of playing in the World Cup, the sound of drums pulsing in the background. 

A few months ago, Dave and I had some neighbors over for dinner.  They also have a 3 year old daughter, and the father, Greg, relayed a story:
"I have a friend, and he also has a son and a daughter, like us.  We were talking about general parent things one day, and he said, 'You know, my one hope, the one thing I hope for my daughter, is that she find a really good husband, someone who will really take care of her.' "
Greg relayed surprise over his friend's hope, expressing that he hadn't considered that as a goal for his own daughter, or a hope that he had for her.

I don't know if this is a typical hope that dads have for their daughters.
I haven't asked many fathers that question.
I've never even asked Dave that question.
I don't know if my own father had that hope for me, when I was 3, or otherwise.

The role of fatherhood is such an important one in raising strong girls.
Fathers model supportive partnership to their daughters (ideally), and through their own hopes for their child, they guide them to to explore and take chances that will lead toward growth and strength.
Or, they close off certain paths that aren't seemed as integral to their dreams for their daughter.

I've had more than one client in therapy who, as a grown adult, is still injured by the norms created in their household while growing up. Their ability to live in the present is still hindered by the expectations of their past.  Even as adults, free to live as we choose, we are often still responding to the rules that were set for us in the first decade of life.  As William Faulkner wrote, "The past is not dead.  It's not even past." Given this as true for most people, it is an awesome responsibility to be aware of the hopes we have for our daughters.  Our "yes" and "no" to them, verbal and nonverbal, will be the yes and no they pause before as adults, the voice in their head that they will sometimes heed to and sometimes discard.

Looking back at goofy me, wearing a soccer ball and baggy shorts at the age of 16, I would guess that if my dad were worried about my marriageability at that time, the worrying could have gone on and on.  "Please take care of my daughter, she make you many fine hats to wear."

As the World Cup plays out in South Africa (and the US is still in it!), I've been telling Miss C about my favorite soccer heroes, and have found library books to talk about these players:
Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Kristine Lilly.


USA's forward Kristine Lilly kicks for the goal. (Photo: Bill 
Kostroun/AP Images)
The names don't stick quite yet, (she calls them Lily Hamm, or Abby Hamm, or Hammy Hamm)
I don't know the romantic histories of any of these players.  Nor do I care.
What I do know about them, and what they've brought to the game of soccer in the US, is what I share with my daughter.
Even if the names don't stick, I'm hoping that the stories will.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kill: To End a Life

Miss C and her cousin Josh are 10 months apart.

They adore each other.  He is a tender soul, and when she gets a bit bossy, he goes into his own world.

This morning, I was watching Josh at his house.  We arrived and he asked Miss C if she wanted to play Star Wars.  She said yes.

They began digging through Josh's box of characters, and Miss C was looking for the pants wearing princess, Princess Leia.

"Where is she?  Where is Princess Leia, Josh?"

Josh: "I don't know."

C: "Josh, where is Princess Leia?"

Josh: "I don't know."

C: "Josh, I don't see her.  Where could she be?"

Josh: "I think they killed her."

C: "Who killed her?"

Josh: "The bad guys."

C: "What does 'killed' mean?"

Josh: (says nothing)

C: "Josh, what does 'killed' mean?"

Josh: (still quiet)

C: "Who killed her?  And what does 'kill' mean?  Josh?"

Josh: "I don't know.  I think you should ask your mom."

I wandered through the room, but neither Miss C asked about 'kill', nor Josh.  When they didn't find Leia, C wanted to play instead with the octopus and sea creatures.  And they did.

Josh has seen all the Star Wars films.  He knows all the characters, all the plot and story lines, and who is of the Dark and who is of the Light.
But it was interesting hearing him fall silent when asked what "kill" meant.
I don't believe it was him protecting C from the information, though that is possible.
I think that though Josh gets what kill means, he can't explain it yet without using the word kill.
He knows how it is presented in the movies.
But, anticipating the question, I wondered myself, "What does kill mean?"
How would a 4 year old, such as Josh, explain this concept to a 3 year old?

It's different than dying, die, dead, all of which C has asked about in conversation.  She asked about it when we found a dead chipmunk in the road.  When a young cousin with health problems died.  When we talk about a grandparent she never met.

But kill.  Killed.  Have killed.

That's a little bit different. 
The pause that Josh made might have been his own mind searching for a way to communicate that, and possibly coming up blank. 

He might be able to act it out, with light sabers.  But the language that informs the actions is still developing.

The space in between the action and the understanding: it's where an octopus and sea turtle can come in handy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Visit to the Doctor

C: Let's play.  I am Dr. Cinderella.  You are my patient.

Me: Okay.

C: You go over here and wait.
She leads me to a chair in the dining room, then leaves me sitting there.  Waiting.

C: (emerges with a piece of paper in hand, looks down at it,) Georgia O'Keefe?

Me: Is that me?

C: (whispers) Yes, you are supposed to stand up.  Let's start over.
She leaves, and I'm left for an even longer time, waiting.  

C: (re-enters) Georgia O'Keefe?
She looks around the room searchingly, as though it's filled with many potential Georgia O'Keefe's.

Me: (standing) I am Georgia.

C: (smiles in recognition) Follow me please, Georgia.

Dr. Cinderella performs an examination.
Turns out that stomach ache I'd been experiencing?
Just a bladder full of urine. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

She's Baa-ack

Miss C's curiosities have been quite interesting to observe over the past few weeks.
I mentioned here that we donated some Disney princess dresses which were starting our day on a frenzied note each morning, and replaced them with a plain old princess dress, and a powwow dancing dress.

C wore the plain old princess dress exactly 3 times, then moved on.
She wore the Powwow dress once.
This, after she'd been starting her day as Cinderella or Snow White for months.

After reading this page in a Berenstain Bears book,

she became obsessed with bones, muscles, and organs.  I say obsessed because 3 year old's have no other mode of operation: it's obsessed, or uninterested. 
So ever since seeing that page and learning about the inner workings of a bear, she will come up and tell me that her bladder is full of urine and that poop wants to come out of her rectum.  
This is all good until she announces it loudly in public, and then I kind of miss the DP dresses that otherwise occupied her brain. 

Another topic she's become extremely inquisitive about has been the universe, piqued after doing this puzzle at a friend's house: 
Solar System Floor Puzzle

My remaining knowledge of the solar system is a mixture 5th grade diorama and Goodnight Moon, so as she's been asking, we've been learning together. 

Since there can't be a period of time in which this abundance of joyful learning is not interrupted, this screeching halt occurred over the weekend.  Our neighborhood was having it's annual garage sale, and we took a bike ride to explore our neighbor's wares.  C dropped her bike at one driveway and ran full speed to a box that contained trains.  Which she has never showed much interest in before.  For a couple bucks, we brought home a box of trains and set up the railroad set.  Later that day, I was thinking about all the parts of her I'm learning about, the little interests that emerge because her energy is not tied into an obsession with Princesses.  And then, as we played in the backyard, C wandered over to an older neighbor's home and talked with them as they packed away their tables of goods.  I was trailing her by about 10 yards, and in that short span of time, C ran back to me beaming, and opened her hand.  "Look what Ms. Jackie gave me."

Nestled into her palm was Ariel.

Ms. Jackie looked pleased as well, and mentioned that she had all these toys from when her kids were young, "I'm so glad to share this one with you," she told C.

It has been four days now, and the trains have been collecting dust.  The pointed questions about Venus and Neptune have ceased.  Figuring out what lies beneath our skin has become boring.  But, Ariel.  She has been taken into the car, in the bathroom, to bed, and on bike rides.

This is familiar territory, but I'm no less fascinated to realize that for C, her bouts of inquiry about the world seem to occur when DP's are just not around.  When they are here, everything else pales in comparison. Even a bladder full of urine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Put a Ring on Her. I mean, It.

DSC 2298
You may have seen this once already, or six times, as many report to watching it half a dozen times, "mesmerized."   It is from the World of Dance tour.  If you haven't seen it, or need one more to reach your 6th view:
(give it about 12 seconds to load or it may stop frequently) 

I will be the first to admit that my experience in the world of dance is limited to perfecting the Roger Rabbit 
and Running Man moves at junior high dances.  While wearing jams.
Also in my repertoire?  Fake Irish dancing.  It looks really close to the real thing, in my mind, when I'm doing it.

So perhaps experienced dancers, or women who grew up training as dancers, had a very different reaction upon viewing this.

But for me, the first time I watched it, I wept.

Maybe it's because I've been reading Reviving Ophelia.
Maybe it's because I have a niece who is this age.
Maybe it's because I don't know enough about the world of dance.

But I don't think it's the latter.

Yes, they're great dancers.
Yes, they're skilled in the art of movement.
That's not the point.

The point is that this dance group is supported by coaches, parents, and a host of adults.
This routine had to be given a green light by grown ups.
Adults had to say, Yes.
Over and over again. 

And adults had to create the choreography, the costumes, and instruct the girls in facial expression.
Over and over again.
"No, don't smile, we're going for dramatic here.  Touch your chin to your chest but look up.  Yes, like that."
(See the first photo, Dancer #2 has it down pat.  That is not a natural pose, it is an instructed one.)

Many supporters of the routine have commented that it's the "haters" who are using a sexual lens to view this even though the dancers themselves are most likely not thinking about that,  "They're just having fun, dancing."

They should be able to just have fun, dancing.  
Those girls should be able to show off their incredible skill and the fruits of their hard work.
And they should be supported by adults who allow them to do this, without the sexy coaching.  
I wonder if there was one adult, even one, involved in the production, who had second thoughts, who chewed their lip thinking, "This doesn't feel entirely comfortable for me and my 8 year old." 
And I wonder what happened to that voice. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ye Who Have Sons

A few of you have mentioned something to the effect of "Whew! Glad I have sons instead of daughters."

If your little boy grows up to like girls, right now at this moment, your future-daughter-in-law is likely prancing around in a some garment of clothing imprinted with Disney Princesses.  (It's a statistical certainty.)

And if your little boy grows up to like boys, there's not even a Disney film for that one yet. 

But if they do make it, it will probably be titled: The Prince Who Loved A Prince.
And still, neither Prince will get a name.  

the image
Sent by Jackie from here to this great site.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cosmo: The Princess Issue

Do you think Ariel's been photo-shopped? 
I think her thighs were definitely fuller in the movie. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Power of Suggestion

Driving home to NY after a family visit, Dave and I pass though what appears to be a loop:

Liquor store

We drive through this loop approximately every 3 miles, so if you missed Perkins strawberry pie 2 minutes ago, fear not!  You still have a chance.  If you forgot to get some vodka to chase your pie, just swing over to that fancy liquor store.  And if you still have 347 miles to go, well, McDonald's is advertising both coffee, AND Shrek chicken nuggets.

We pass something that looks to me like an outer space gas station, and Dave goes, "Ooooooh, Sonic."
Me: "What?"
Dave: "There's a Sonic."
Me: "A what?" 
(yes, I also ask him "What did they say??" during movies)
Dave: "A burger place.  They have really amazing burgers."
Me: "I have never even heard of Sonic."
Dave: "You've never heard of Sonic?"
Me: "No.  Good burgers?"
Dave: "Oh yeah."

We pass by the loop again.  Two more times.

Me: "When's the last time you had a Sonic burger?"
Dave: "Oh, I've never actually had one."
Dave: "What?"
Me: "You just told me they have really amazing burgers."
Dave: "Well they do."
Me: "And you know this how?"
Dave: "I just know."
Me: "From a friend?"
Dave: "Almost.  From the commercial."
Me: "Ah."

We pass through the loop another 3 times.

Me: "I'm getting hungry."
Dave: "Sonic burger?"
I don't mention that I have been thinking about strawberry pie for the last 30 miles.  Though Shrek nuggets still sound foul, the pie urge gets stronger with every Perkins board we pass.
Very Berry
The next day, while listening to NPR (a friend of mine always prefaces this statement with "While sipping Chardonnay, driving my Prius and ...listening to NPR,")
So without Chardonnay and without an electric car, I was listening to an interview with: a Food Stylist. 
Someone whose job is to dress up food for photographs, commercials, and films. 
The Food Stylist described combing through 100 rolls, throwing all of them out until finding the PERFECT roll in which to shoot a burger.  And then, Elmer-gluing extra sesame seeds onto it, before glossing the burger with oil and adding extra grill marks on it. 

I know we are susceptible to ads in different ways.  For Dave, it's the luscious look of a Sonic burger.  For me, I will get a jingle or slogan stuck in my mind and cannot, for the life of me, shake it out.  Like this one: VERY BERRY. 

Limited time only.

Quickie Quote

The world tells us what we are to be and shapes us by the ends it sets before us.  To men it says, work.  To us, it says, seem.  The less a woman has in her head the lighter she is for carrying.
                          --Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm

Happy Monday.
May you fill your head heavy today.
And ignore the end that is set before you.
Make a new shape-dent on the world.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food for Thought

81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat.
                                                                              (Mellin et al., 1991)

That study was published 19 years ago.

About 6 years from now, will my daughter be in the majority?
Or will she be among the 19% of girls not afraid of catching the fatness?

How old were you when you started experiencing your body as something other than great for double dutch jump rope, recess races, and spinning in circles until you fell down dizzy?

Sometimes, when my daughter looks into the bathroom mirror while brushing her teeth, I crouch beside her and rest my chin on her shoulder,
"Aren't we beautiful?"
She always agrees.

When she pats my belly, I pat it with her, "Oh, my lovely belly, I love you loveliest belly!"
She always laughs.

When we say our Thank You's at the end of the day, I try to remember to throw in one about the usefulness of having a working body, "And Thank You for my wonderful legs, that I can run, and ride a bicycle, and walk the dog."
Or my fantastic lips for talking and singing.
Or my fabulous fingers, for rolling play-doh and picking flowers.

It is possible that this approach could produce an ego-maniac instead of a self-assured girl.

But if it keeps her in the 19%, it just might be worth it.