Yesterday our oldest little girl turned ten. TEN. Please hold while I breathe in a bag for a minute.
Last year I wrote a post about this particular love of my life. She continues to surprise me with her wit, make me proud with her kindness, and remind me of myself at her age. I thank my lucky stars each and every day that I get to be one of her moms.
I’ve told you that the little girls and I talk a lot. I take advantage of time spent in the car by initiating serious conversations about kindness, and love, and treating everyone like valued members of our community. Lately, we’ve talked a lot about strength. Strength to stand up for what we believe in. Strength to ask for what we want. Strength to be kind when the people around us are not. Strength to make good choices to protect our happiness and character. They always listen intently, give examples of similar things they’ve seen or experienced at school, and we talk about how important it is to hold our ground and be strong in who we are and in what we believe.
A couple of weeks ago there was a flurry of activity on blogs, opinion pages, and more, about a particular blog post by a mother of boys. She wrote an open letter to teenage girls telling them what she deemed acceptable social media behavior, and if the girls didn’t adhere to particular standards, she would annex them from her boys’ online worlds. Things got heated (understatement). Many mothers of girls expressed disgust with her letter. Her website was bombarded with comments of support and protest. Even my Facebook blew up with some friends sharing the original article and subsequently other friends sharing articles of rebuttal.
Right around this time I also found out that our oldest little girl has an Instagram account. And all of it…the blog posts, the arguments they inspired, and the thought of my little girls beginning to test the waters of this sometimes repulsive world of social media…it had my head spinning. How on earth, in this very different world than the one in which I was raised, does one properly raise girls?! How do we avoid the minefields inherent in the online world of children and teenagers?! What the f-ck are we going to do?!
I spent a few days panicking…the SKY is falling…the SKY is falling…and then I recovered. Because at it’s most basic…I know how to do this (I think).
I recently made the little girls a new iPod playlist. It’s packed full of songs by Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, J-Lo, Demi, Selena, and more. One of our current faves to listen to, and sing along with at the top of our lungs, is Roar by Katy Perry. The little girls sing it with conviction, like the story is their own, and we belt it out like we’re on stage.
Yesterday I took the little girls to Starbuck’s for my birthday girl’s breakfast. When we were pulling away, Roar came on, and the girls once again sang out loud…coffee and artisan breakfast sandwiches in-hand. I listened to them sing with conviction and I had an idea. This next year…the little girls’ tenth and ninth respectively…it’s going to be our Year of Roar. A year for us to focus on being assertive, and confident, and happy, and fiercely kind, and strong. And we’re going to do it together. God knows I sometimes need to be reminded that I have the ability to Roar myself.
And I think that’s how I will attempt to properly raise our little girls. By reminding them of their own power, their own worth, and instill in them a deep and profound understanding of just how f-cking amazing they are. No matter what Facebook says. No matter what boys (or their mothers) say. No matter what anybody says or thinks. As long as they know…I mean really know…that they have the power to Roar, I think they will be just fine. Better than fine in fact.
TODAY: What if, as we celebrate our little girls’ birthdays this week and next, we gift them with a year of ROAR?
PS – For the record…I think the mom who wrote the original article referenced above meant well. We all want to over protect our kids and, as we all know, sometimes it’s hard to even know what that looks like. I think on this a lot…so I’m not trying to call out another mom for thinking about it out loud…I may not agree with her but that’s what makes this country great. Right? Our ability to agree to disagree and respect no matter what.