In honor of Vi’s upcoming birthday.
Celebrating her strength and all the fierce little girls who have been told they need to be tamed.
We were at the local Mommys’ Group; I was sitting in a circle of other moms with our tiny babies. Franki was on her little blanket snuggled in, refusing to do tummy time; Marshall ran about with the older boys, pretending to be airplanes with their arms outstretched wide. Vi was in a play pirate ship with a boy who is more than twice her age.
This boy’s mother has boasted before that her husband doesn’t allow their son to be “coddled”; wrestling is their preferred method of bonding. “He doesn’t want him to be a sissy.” She once said matter-of-factly. Unsurprisingly, this little guy is known as the group bully; kids regularly try to steer clear of him and his wrath.
But not Vi. She was in this boat first and was having fun pretending to captain the vessel. She loves to play with others and was unfazed when this particular child joined her. She is confident, she is mighty.
This boy did not want to join her, no, he wanted to push her out. He tried to push her from the ship and slap her hands from the wheel. His mother watched and said nothing; then Vi hit him and sternly said “No!” defending her body from his.
That is when this boy’s mother intervened, telling me that my daughter hit her son. I knew, I watched it all play out as well- as soon as this boy approached my daughter I knew I had to be on alert. The mother wanted me to scold my daughter, to be embarrassed, to apologize to her son.
I will not apologize for my daughter defending her body. I will not teach my daughter to wilt in the presence of a strong male. I will not chip away at her fierce spirit.
Don’t be mistaken, when she is wrong, I intervene. I teach her to be respectful, to share, to be kind, that hands are for helping not for hurting. But I will not teach her to be a doormat for your child to walk upon. I will not let you teach my daughter that there are two rules to play by depending on sex.
I smiled gently and pointed out that her son first pushed- and then slapped- my daughter. The mother mumbled something about being a lady before she retrieved her son and retreated.
Violet is a lady. She loves purple, baby dolls, and twirling in dresses. She also loves playing in dirt, having pirate sword fights with her big brother, and is the best angler out of anyone in our family. That’s the thing: “ladies” can be anything and that is what I aim to teach her. She is a fierce warrior princess and I will celebrate that always.
Isn’t that the conundrum really? Girls (and women) must be strong enough to bear the criticism of their personalities, behavior, and bodies but delicate and non-threatening at the same time. That a girl must hide her body so others aren’t “distracted” but at the same time, when confronted, cannot defend that body?
Yes, Violet Angeline isn’t quiet. She roars with an enthusiasm for life. She makes her presence known. She welcomes friends with a hug but will defend herself from foes. She dances and karate chops. She loves cooking and climbing.
She is a lady.
I refuse to tame her. And God help you if you try.