When I was little, say 5 years old or so, my favorite thing to do was to line my stuffed animals up and teach them. I’d use my chalkboard to show them how to solve math problems or lecture them about the difference between a verb and a noun. I was a teacher.
I’m not sure at what point things changed, but at some juncture in my life, the focus became more on how many friends I had or what I was wearing or the latest cheerleading routine I was going to perform. My desire to show off my brain power diminished and my focus on appearance took precedence. Not to say that I was vain: I honestly don’t believe that was the case. I think it’s just that being a girl, we are expected to be pretty and to do “girly” things. And I’m certainly not saying that pretty and girly things are bad. I happen to love all things pink, to talk on the phone with a friend for hours about nothing and to shop til I drop.
But now that I have a daughter and two sons of my own, I can see a little more clearly about differences in how we treat our sons and daughters. I, along with my extended family and friends, have told my oldest son since he was a baby that he is smart. And he is: He’s got a natural love of learning and intrigue of all things that is truly outstanding. My daughter, who is turning 6 this weekend, is gorgeous with a capital G. She’s sassy and spunky and sweet. I, along with everyone we know, have always called her pretty. “You’ve got the most beautiful blue eyes.” “I love your dress.” “You look so cute today.” While all those things are true, she is equally smart. She may showcase her brains in different ways, but she is just as smart as any boy in the room.
I noticed I was saying these things to her when she started Kindergarten this summer. She came downstairs, dressed and ready for her first day of school and I lauded how pretty she looked. Then my son came downstairs, ready to start his first day in second grade, and I commented on how I couldn’t wait to see how much he was going to learn this year. As Oprah would say, I had an “ah ha” moment.
Since that day, I’ve been more well-rounded in my compliments for my daughter. Yes, I tell her how beautiful she is. And sweet. But I now equally focus on how intelligent she is. I want my daughter to grow up to be whatever she wants. A veterinarian covered in cat fur. A pediatrician behind a white coat. A scientist with her eyes on a microscope. A teacher with chalk-covered fingers. (Of course, whatever she will be it will be while wearing some fabulous shoes.) And if she chooses to have a life exactly like mine with a family like mine, she’d be the luckiest girl in the world.
This quote is from the book and film “The Help”, and if you’ve seen it then I can only assume that you just said it aloud just as Aibeleen did. I sure did.
I caught her in her room this morning having a conversation with her animal friends. This isn’t abnormal, seeing that her stuffed puppies, zebras and bears are part of her family; her entourage if you will. But this time was different. She wasn’t just playing with them or singing to them; she was teaching them. She was telling them how to spell all the words that she has learned at school. She was confident and proud. Her hair was a mess and her pajamas were mix-matched and she couldn’t have cared less. She was a teacher.
She’ll have plenty of time to splash on some lip gloss after she saves the world.
Eva with her Entourage
Since first writing this blog, I’ve come across the most wonderful new ad that goes along perfectly with what I’ve written. You’ve got to see it. It’s had almost 10,000,000 views on youtube alone, at least a dozen of which was me.
Imagine the Possibilities New Barbie Ad
I then checked out the new Barbie selection (their advertising worked on me!) and was happy to see some awesome choices. Sure, she still has an unrealistically small waist but now she’s more than just a pretty face. Just like my Eva.
Guess what Santa’s bringing for Christmas this year?