Like a Girl Blog Post

hero

“A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” Hercules

 

 

Maybe you don’t know how strong girls can be.

 

Let me tell you a story about what I know.

 

I know what it’s like to grow up a girl in a house full of boys in the 80s. I know what it’s like to hear the rumor that you can do anything while simultaneously watching how that actually plays out.

 

Take dodgeball for example.

 

Dodgeball. That game with the hand held rubber balls you throw at each other as hard as you can. Why as hard as you can? Because you don’t want the person to catch the ball, you want the person to get hit by the ball. If they get hit with the ball, they’re out. If they catch the ball, you’re out. Simple.

 

When I was in elementary school I went to a summer day camp. In the morning, after drop off but before camp officially began, the kids would all play dodgeball. Mostly the older teens, but because camp had not yet started for the day, the younger children could mix in with them, too.

 

Normally, the younger children choose to mix in with the older children to showcase their amazing, advanced, dodgeball skills. Not me. On that day, I joined in because I thought it would be fun. I believed that the older children would take into account how small I was even for the lowest age group.

 

In the 80s, you learn lessons the hard way.

 

The few minutes I spent on the field, to this day I can conjure up how it felt like a battlefield. The expressions, the sounds of satisfied triumph and stinging, shameful defeat, dodgeballs flying so fast, you can barely see them. I was lost out there, unable to catch or capture a ball to throw, startled by how hard the kids around me were getting hit.

 

WHAP!!!

 

The biggest kid on the field took aim. I saw it. I saw the whole thing. I saw his expression change from glory to terror right as the ball left his hand, as he realized too late that he had used too much force for such a small target.

 

That’s all I saw because when the dodgeball hit me in the face, the force of it brought me up off my feet, into the air and slammed my whole body onto the ground. Never before has anyone thrown a dodgeball that hard, and probably not since.

 

What happens next, the memory of it, brings me to tears.

 

While there is an outburst of accusations ranging from, ‘you’re in deep shit’ to ‘who let her on the field,’ only one person reacts appropriately. The strongest kid in the group ran to me, picked me up like a baby and RAN me over to the nurse. She was my hero.

 

I always wanted to thank her. But I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, that even to this day, I don’t have the right words to convey the emotions in my heart. It’s not just that she picked me up when I was down, it’s the way she did the right thing without hesitation. Alone. Truly, a hero.

 

That’s a role model.

 

Years later, that beautiful strong girl went on to play football for our high school, the first girl ever. I used to watch the football games and feel this enormous sense of pride, like that’s the girl who carried me, look at her, she can do anything. She can do things I’ve never even seen before. She matters.

 

I’ve had my moments. I’ve picked up many people who were down and cradled them to my chest. I have held the hands of countless emergency room victims of violence and advocated on their behalf. I have argued in Court pro bono to make children and families safe from violence. I have empathized with every soul who has looked to me for advice and counsel. But I have not yet been able to pay that one forward, I have not physically carried a stranger to safety.

 

I am so ready for that moment. That moment when objects are flying, people are screaming and pointing blame at each other. In that moment, I am ready to, without hesitation, physically remove the person in need of protection to carry them to safety. Alone. I am prepared to do the right thing because I know what a hero looks like, Luana Halftown showed me.

 

hero

Dr. Maya Angelou was a hero

 

Thank you for showing me strength. Because of you, I know that strength involves care, kindness, empathy, bravery, compassion, self sacrifice, faith and intuition. Strength is about having heart.

 

XO,

Rachel

hero

“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by example.” Maya Angelou

Why Individuality is rebellious

 

 

My son is 4 and a half and he has hair down to his shoulders.

 

Every single person who lays eyes on my son, mistakes him for a girl. They say “she” and “her” when referring to my son even after I say: this is my son, Jackson.

 

I find this very strange. I look at my son’s cotton shorts and tee shirt, I look at his light up batman sneakers and I conclude: you really can’t tell the difference between boys and girls at 4 years old. So why is everyone so certain he’s a girl?

 

Seriously—why don’t people refer to him as “your child” or attempt to ask his name before so confidently assigning him a gender. He’s 4. It is confusing to him and we talk about it often.

 

The conversation looks something like this:

Did you notice that lady kept calling you “she?”

Yes.

How did that make you feel?

Bad.

How come?

Because I’m not a girl, I’m a boy.

I know, you’re a boy, that lady made a mistake. I’m sorry her mistake made you feel bad. What do you think we can say next time that will feel better?

I’m a boy.

Good idea.

 

Parenting involves instilling within your child a sense of personal autonomy. Children are not dolls or robots. Children are future adults who deserve to know the truth about consent.

 

Close your eyes and imagine a world where all human beings understand, respect and appreciate consent. Open your eyes and imagine that lesson is learned at home.

 

Every few weeks we go to see my son’s hair stylist and I ask him what he wants to do. Hair cut or just a trim? For the past year his answer is always “just a trim” because he is growing his hair long.

 

Right now, my son’s hair is down to his shoulders and it looks incredible. Hair model worthy. He is certainly capable of at least playing the part of a rock star on television.

 

We are part of that movement of parents who have to go tour private kindergartens well in advance, apply, and then fear we might not get in. I want my son to go to the best school for him.

 

Challenger School is a Charter school and we thought it was beautiful. In fact, we were worried we might not pass the test to get in because we liked it so much. It has a great playground, which is high on my son’s one-item priority list for schools.

 

I had a great conversation with the school administrator on said playground about how they resolve conflicts with logic and have a method for teaching logic that is unique to their curriculum. Like music to my ears, I really lit up when she explained all of this to me. I’m a big fan of logic.

 

For whatever reason, I decided to ask the administrator if Challenger School had a weird hair policy and she said actually they do. In order to attend the school, he would need to keep his hair cut to above his ears.

 

Do the girls have the same rule?

 

No. This is a grooming rule for the boys only.

 

I wish that I could have resolved that issue with logic, but we had to agree to disagree and are now ineligible for Challenger School.

 

Las Vegas Day School is an impressive facility. The campus has a music building, a huge art center, a gymnasium, an incredible library and a cool playground. We were all super excited. I noticed a little boy in the kindergarten class had longer hair and felt relieved, like we are in the right place.

 

Until I asked the administrator what their hair policy, if any, was. She flinched. Like I struck her. She said she had been meaning to say something about that because Jackson would need to trim his hair to rest at the top of his shirt collar to meet the school policy.

 

Do the girls have the same rule?

 

No. It’s a policy based on tradition.

 

Oh man, that’s too bad because we are precluded from admission and should probably just stop the tour here so we stop wasting each other’s time. I am raising my son to have personal autonomy for his own health and safety. Please let us know if you change your mind on this policy.

 

I will let the Director know your thoughts and please let us know if you change your mind.

 

We have four more schools to tour and I am confident that I will find something that works for us but I am beyond frustrated.

 

Gender stereotyping really bothers me.

 

All men are created equal. That’s just exactly what they meant to say. They meant to exclude females. They intended for the divide in order to derive a benefit without a care for the consequences; certainly without well reasoned thought for the consequences. We can do better than this.

 

Flash forward to middle school where the girls start getting sent home for the same length skirt they were forced to wear in elementary school, now no longer deemed appropriate. Sent home for showing off shoulders, collar bones, cleavage because their bodies “distract boys from learning.”

 

News flash: puberty distracts children from learning. Making girls disappear is not the answer to anything. Sending girls home distracts everyone from learning anything other than the clear lesson that girls matter less than boys.

 

Do you want to know why my son wants to grow his hair long?

 

Because he wants to be like his Mom.

 

Society hates that. It terrifies them. It angers them. It invokes very strong feelings.

 

My son wants to be like his Mom because she is a lawyer, she is brave, loyal, strong, fiercely protective, funny and a master storyteller. My son’s Mom is also beautiful and so loving. Of course my son wants to be like his Mom.

 

But we can’t say that out loud, right?

 

Well as long as we are going taboo, then let me also throw in some other things I’ve been dying to say:

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair so that you can easily identify which benefits to assign to whom.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because you want to know if he’s a boy or a girl. He’s 4. You don’t need to know what’s going on inside his pants.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because what he wants to look like matters to me; he is a brand new human being developing his amazing personality and not only do I respect that, as his Mom, I wholeheartedly facilitate it.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because I want to know who he is, not tell him who to be. If you don’t want to know who he is, then this isn’t the place for us.

 

I’m not going to cut off my son’s hair because I’m not a fan of tradition for the sake of tradition. I’m going to continue to fight for equality and for freedom.

 

XO,

Rachel

 

individuality