Kid President makes the case for optimism: “We can cry about it, or we can dance about it.”
More Kid President here.
A song for New York, from Lucy Kaplansky:
It’s been eleven years, and songs like this — and the memories of that day — still bring tears to my eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever be over it.
My daughter is eleven now. She was just four months old on 9/11 and has no memory of that day, only the stories her parents have told her — it’s history for her, just another thing that happened in the world before she became aware of the world. Maybe that’s the way it should be. I wouldn’t wish this quiet grief to haunt her for the rest of her days. Let her acknowledge that day and move on with her life, in sunlight and in joy.
They’re teaching her in middle school to accept — “not just tolerate” — all cultures. I temper it a bit, telling her that all people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. Where cultures have wrong ideas — honor killings, female genital mutilation, the belief in the supremacy of one religion or another — people must speak out against them.
But perhaps the middle school teachers are right to emphasize respect and acceptance first: if respect is the foundation, perhaps it will help kids grow up to remember that whoever they disagree with is a human being too. In the end, after all the many important issues to disagree about, there’s nothing more important than that.
More thoughts on 9/11 here.
Author and podcaster Mur Lafferty writes a must-read letter to her daughter, offering the love and support that I hope I’m giving my own:
So. The world hates you. You are considered the worst thing to be compared to. Throw like a girl. Talk like a girl. Cry like a girl. God forbid we ever be girls.
No, we wouldn’t want to take utter delight in beauty and love. We wouldn’t want to carefully watch and study something to learn. We wouldn’t want to look at the world and for just one second think that we have as many opportunities as boys. That we can play sports. Play the drums or saxophone. Play video games. Excel at science/math. * And for that second, before something or someone starts opening their shit-hole to put down little girls, we can fly.
So what can we do, dear daughter? When you get a little older, I will be honest with you and tell you — fuck ‘em. You will not change their mind by arguing, by telling them they are wrong. You change their mind by showing them how being a girl is awesome. You show them by not hiding, by not being demure. [...]
You show them by being more than your looks, even if that’s all people comment on. You show them by your independence. You show them by being more than they expect to see. You show them by not taking their shit. [...]
So they hate you. But fuck ‘em. Because you are a force of nature, a powerhouse of emotion and talent and stubbornness and potential.
You’re worth a billion of them.
Read the rest here.
Daughter: “Can we see the clip again, Dad?”
We are SO there.
I highly recommend this righteous rant from the blog Views from the Couch:
I am sure every girl can recall, at least once as a child, coming home and telling their parents, uncle, aunt or grandparent about a boy who had pulled her hair, hit her, teased her, pushed her or committed some other playground crime. I will bet money that most of those, if not all, will tell you that they were told “Oh, that just means he likes you”. I never really thought much about it before having a daughter of my own. I find it appalling that this line of bullshit is still being fed to young children. Look, if you want to tell your child that being verbally and/or physically abused is an acceptable sign of affection, i urge you to rethink your parenting strategy. If you try and feed MY daughter that crap, you better bring protective gear because I am going to shower you with the brand of “affection” you are endorsing.
When the fuck was it decided that we should start teaching our daughters to accept being belittled, disrespected and abused as endearing treatment? And we have the audacity to wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? How did society become so oblivious to the fact that we were conditioning our daughters to endure abusive treatment, much less view it as romantic overtures? Is this where the phrase “hitting on girls” comes from? Well, here is a tip: Save the “it’s so cute when he gets hateful/physical with her because it means he loves her” asshattery for your own kids, not mine. While you’re at it, keep them away from my kids until you decide to teach them respect and boundaries.
This, a thousand times this.
Read the whole thing.
(Image via Growing Up Smart)
Nate DiMeo writes an open letter to the toy company Melissa & Doug, care of two of their merchandise characters:
Dear Abby and Emma (the girls in my daughter’s magnetic dress-up doll kit from the toy company Melissa & Doug),
[...] I’ve decided it’s time for you two to get jobs. Because, now that [our daughter] knows that pants don’t go on your head, all she’s learning is fashion — which super-cute top goes best with which skirt. But, I figure work clothes are different. A firefighter’s clothes are functional. She needs gloves. She needs a helmet. A doctor needs scrubs, maybe one of those old-timey head mirrors. Work clothes would inspire imaginative play and prompt questions beyond do these jeggings make my wooden butt look big?
But guess what, Abby and Emma, Melissa & Doug don’t make work clothes for you. They do for these two bigger, girl dolls. But their clothes won’t fit you. And yes, ballerina is technically a profession. I’m less sure about princess. There is one of the larger dolls who does have cool work clothes. His name is Joey. So, Abby and Emma, you can’t be astronauts. And you can’t help our daughter dream about being a scientist or a police officer either. Sorry girls. And — while I know there is more to parenting than purchasing — if you do talk to Melissa & Doug, if they maintain some sort of magical, Geppeto-y psychic link to you two, can let them know that there’s more to being a girl than just being girly.
Heard on the radio program Marketplace, and posted here at the request of my daughter, who nodded vigorously as she listened and now insists that this be included in “our permanent records.”
(Image via The Baby Habit)
A very inspiring video from the New York Public Library:
Unlike critics of the Library’s plan to transform the central branch from a researcher’s storehouse into a vital hub of activity — a former curator sniffs that the Mid-Manhattan branch across the street is “utter chaos. And it will all come here — the noise, the teenage problems, the circulating DVDs” — I think the Library has it exactly right. The fabled stacks of books in the main branch will merely be relocated, not destroyed, not made inaccessible. But a living library should be a vibrant gathering place for the community, especially the next generation — those thousands of noisy kids and teenagers that the supporters of the library-as-silent-crypt disdain. Democracy IS noise and chaos — that’s how people engage with ideas and with each other, and learn to become citizens. And the library should be its beating heart.
Give to the NYPL here. And support your own local library as well.
A must-see talk by Rachel Simmons — co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute — along with amazing eighth-grader Claire Sannini, on the challenges of negotiating girls’ relationships, the importance of emotional resilience, and the need to build up self-confidence in girls and the women they become: