I found myself yet again facing the challenge of third-grade-girl emotions last week.
Recently, three girls had a sleepover at our house on a Friday night. We had a lovely dinner of pizza, followed by ice cream and then came home to settle in.
I had talked with my daughter about how much fun the night would be if they could all get along (sounds rather cliché, doesn’t it?) and that I would not be spending the night referee-ing any disputes.
As a mom who has been reading to her children since infancy; sitting next to the crib reading books and continuing to do so; I have desperately sought books to include positive female role models and messages of peace and independence among the myriad of princesses and evil step-mothers that seeped into our lives as if it were a girl's birthright.
We’ve read all about Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Pocahontas and covered topics that I hope have planted the seeds of positivity like “There’s Only One You” and “We Are All Born Free,” among many others.
What I quickly noticed (and this is not rocket science); is that it became increasingly difficult to find books where the female character isn’t either focused on looks or somehow evil or envious of other females around.
Meanwhile, the superhero books my son was first drawn to talked immediately about teamwork and obviously illustrated how the male characters were all working together to accomplish a common good.
So, you ask, what does all of this have to do with my sleepover? Well, once settled in, the girls decided to play the Xbox Dance game and quickly began to bicker about who was “hogging” the camera space on the Kinect, which ultimately ended in tears and the game being abandoned (and here I thought they would be dancing the night away).
Could I resist referee-ing … NO! After a few more disagreements, I called my daughter away from the others and proceeded to pronounce “if you can’t get along, you cannot have anyone sleep over anymore” … UGH! I’m not sure if I was more irritated that I sounded like my mother or that I was contributing to this separation of women because we simply can’t get along and prefer to spend time brooding over why other females (including friends?!?) are out to get us … DOUBLE UGH!
So back to the drawing board I went; the positive “pep talks” on the way to school about being strong and confident; the tiny pebble with the word “strength” that I put in her pocket to remind her at school; the notes in her lunch box about how proud I am that she is kind and loving, looking her in the eyes as I drop her at the class door and saying “stay true to yourself; you are a good person” the searches on Amazon for even more books I could read on the topic of raising girls.
Until our daughters are able to rise up and meet these challenges, this mom and my small army of books, good friends, positive role models and pep talks will continue to press on against the large army of princesses, evil step mothers, and Hollywood body images. In the words of another great woman:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt