The 3 Things You Can Teach A Girl

I cannot confirm nor deny that a guy at a fraternity party took a basketball to the head when he approached my middle sister.

Nor can I tell you if one of the guys she dated once found my face inches from his and heard me ask if my sister was in the house because 1:30 AM is no time for her to be talking to a boy.

She will tell you that just before every school year began I told her that whatever grade she was going into was much harder than the prior one and I wasn’t sure if she was ready.

I don’t remember doing that, but I can see a scenario in which I might have tried to motivate her.

And I can remember a conversation with my dad in which I expressed my gratitude for not giving me a brother and more little sisters than you can shake a stick at.

He tried to tell me that there were things you could do with girls and that I could teach my baby sisters to play the games I liked playing, but that wasn’t of particular interest to a ten year-old boy.

Boys and Girls Are Very Different

A few years back one of the guys asked me if I was going to let society tell me what color clothes and what kind of toys my kids could play with.

I told him I was going to raise them to believe they could do anything provided they worked hard and then said boys and girls are very different.

He got upset and told me I was going to cripple my daughter and I said if he wanted to retain use of his limbs he would drink a cup of STFU and remember that he only had one kid.

I am receptive to suggestions and ideas for many things but criticize my parenting when I have been doing it for a dozen years and you have been in the game for 18 months and I’ll cut you. 😉

Especially when you don’t know my kids or see that my daughter isn’t the sort of person who pays much stock to what antiquated ideas of who she can be.

*****

Let’s lay a few things out.

Different is not a value judgment. It doesn’t mean bad and the manner I used it reflected certain experiences I had as a kid and as a father.

My kids played with a lot of the same toys, but it wasn’t unusual for my daughter to talk about being a mom or try to do mom things (breastfeed) with her dolls.

Ask me if my son tried to breastfeed a doll and I’ll say maybe, I really don’t remember. My mom says I tried to feed the aforementioned middle sister.

If he had tried I wouldn’t have told him it was wrong but I would have told him that was something mommies do.

I know we had conversations about that stuff because I remember teaching him how to pee in the bushes at Legoland.

He was 3, there was a lot of traffic and there was no way we were going to get to the restroom in time. Did I mention that he asked me if mom would ever do that with him and I said probably not.

*****

The phone buzzes and I answer, daughter wants to Facetime.

I click it on and she tells me all about her day. It is a fantastic conversation and I am intensely impressed with how smart she is and so very proud of the awards she has won.

I am also amazed at the amount of detail in her story and can’t help but laugh because her brother would have told it in half the time.

Why?

Because so many of those details aren’t things that he or I would naturally pay attention to.

I am not bothered or upset by the details either. We have a different approach to a lot of things and different is ok.

She Is A Storyteller

That little girl of mine, she is a storyteller like her father.

Sometimes I just sit back and listen and wonder where the magic comes from because her stories are magical.

I tease her about it sometimes and remind her that her old man is a writer and that s0me of her ability has to come from me.

And then she yells at me for giving her big hands and feet and I ask her to stop stealing my hair.

I ask her who the boy in the picture is and suggest he might have to meet dads five fingers.

“Dad, I probably hug him every day.”

“Ok, he needs the fists of fury. Going to remodel his nose.”

She waits and asks me if I am done.

“Dad, one day I am going to have a boyfriend and there is nothing you can do to stop it. I am not afraid of you and they won’t be either.”

I laugh and tell her they’ll be just as dumb as I once was.

She doesn’t know what to make of it and asks me for help with her homework.

*****

We talk about the coming school year and she asks me if I have met any more girls her age at the synagogue or anywhere else.

I smile and I tell her yes but that I am not worried about her making friends.

She asks me where I think she’ll go to college and I tell her I am not sure, depends on a bunch of things.

I tell her education is really important and that it can open a lot of doors.

“You can be almost anything you imagine.”

“Dad, don’t stunt my growth. I can be anything.”

“You can’t be a chicken, an airplane or an angry monkey.”

She makes a face.

“What? I am just making sure you are realistic. You could be a doctor, lawyer or teacher, but you are not going to be a racehorse.”

“Sometimes you are ridiculous.”

“Absurdity provides a valuable lifeline.”

“Whatever dad.”

“You know there are three things you can teach a girl.”

She rolls her eyes at me and says she has heard enough ridiculous stuff for a night. I nod my head and think about how fast the time has gone.

I don’t dare blink because she’ll be off at college. Someone stop the clock, I want to go back to the days of debating toys and colors.

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