I see you running around in the garden. Your little legs swirling around. Your hair, that could really use a comb, swaying behind you. Your glittering eyes. Your smile. You’re five years old. You’re on top of the world.
There isn’t anything that you cannot do. Your self confidence is immense. You want to try new things all the time. I wish you could hold on to that feeling all your life. I will try my best for that to happen, but, unfortunately, it’s not only up to me. There is a whole world of social norm and prejudice waiting to shape you. All I can do is make you as strong as possible to help you withstand the labels that will be forced upon you.
I try not to tell you that you look pretty. Even though I think you do. Instead, I try to compliment you on your accomplishments. Not on your looks.
- I’ll tell you how strong legs you have that can run around in the garden all day long.
- I’ll tell you how strong arms you have that can climb around in the apple tree for hours.
- I’ll tell you how good balance you have that can cycle all by yourself.
- I’ll tell you what a good friend you are when you share things with your siblings.
Soon enough you’ll find out the rules that girls and women are presumed to obey by. By then, I hope I have given you enough strength to challenge them.
- Don’t be silent. Scream as loud as you need to get heard.
- Don’t wait for your turn. Claim your place in the world.
- Don’t dress the way everyone expects of you. Dress the way you want to.
- Don’t be a good girl. Good girls never get ahead.
But remember this:
- Use your voice to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
- Help others without expecting anything in return.
And I’ll remember the joy in your eyes when you showed me that you could jump from one of the branches in the apple tree. Anything is possible. Thank you for teaching me that, my darling daughter.