As the Hubs and I were standing at the base of Adoption Paperwork Mountain, we were posed a fairly simple question.
“What is the gender of the child who is meant to be yours?”
Unlike biological parents, we were granted the choice of son or daughter. The Hubs, ever the football coach, dreamed of another boy who would call him out of youth football coaching retirement.
I, on the other hand, dreamed of bows and ribbons and sparkly things such as I could only pine for as I waded through endless department store racks of baby girl dresses in search of the lonely shelves in the back of the store reserved for the corduroy and tweed of boy’s wear. I wanted someone to play dress up with and little pink polished fingers into which I could pass my beloved dollhouse.
After a relatively brief discussion, we settled on forever being parents to only one of each. We already had our boy, so I eagerly checked the box next to “Female,” and eighteen months later I embraced my daughter for the very first time.
Since then, she has had flashes of extreme girliness–the summer she refused to wear anything but sundresses to pre-school, the Halloween she chose Belle as her princess of choice, and that first glorious post-adoption year when she protested loudly if I dared to dress her without her beloved shoes. Yes! Shoes!
Recently, however, we are both beginning to see what her future holds, and much to the sorrow of my stiletto-loving heart, it does not include beauty pageants and dance classes. For as much as she enjoys and excels at her gymnastics lessons, the desire she most frequently expresses is, “When will Daddy sign me up for football?”
When awarded for good behavior with a selection from the classroom prize chest, she passes over the shiny purple rings in favor of plastic green Army men. Halloween saw the demise of the princess and the rise of the Pink Power Ranger complete with boots and laser gun.
She now confidently answers that age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with, “I want to be a police cop! I want a taser and suction cups!” (Through a series of entertaining charades, I soon realized what she wants more than suction cups to restrain her villains is a shiny set of hand cuffs.)
Now, on a nightly basis, I hear chorus after chorus of, “I wanna be a boy!”
I tell myself this is just another phase of childhood when I gently ask, “Why do you want to be a boy?”
“Because,” she declares with a stamp of her foot, “boys can run and play football and chase bad buys, and girls can’t!”
Who told my baby she couldn’t run just as fast as a boy? Who said she can’t play football if she wants? Who dared tell my child she can’t be a bad ass if that is who she wants to be?
Certainly not me.
While I diligently apply my gel nails bi-weekly and stock my closet with the latest pointy-toed fashion, I know she may not grow up to have the same interests. But I walk tall in my stilettos and stand confident in my surroundings, and that is most definitely how I want my daughter to see herself. If her idea of strong and confident is a gun on her hip and cleats on her feet, I’ll do anything in my power to help her achieve those dreams.
Society (ie. Nickelodeon, Disney, Toys R Us and Amazon.com) does not seem to be quite as encouraging. My daughter needs a hero–a girl hero with brains, brawn and probably a weapon or a super secret special power. Somebody give me a female icon for my child to emulate.
I’ve walked toy store miles in my quest for positive female role models who don’t wear party dresses and drive pink convertibles. I have flashbacks to my previous department store disappointments with my son as I scan the action figure row hoping to spy Wonder Woman or GI Jane.
My successes have been few–a pink Power Ranger action figure to complement her Halloween costume and the Spy Kids movies featuring a girl and her vast array of cool spy gadgets. Meager though they are, these gifts have brought a sparkle to her eye and a spark of fantasy to her game-play. I have also been impressed to see the new line of girl-themed Nerf blasters on the shelves this holiday season, and I can’t wait to see the Young One’s face when she unwraps her very own plastic cross bow in a few weeks.
This search for the perfect hero for my daughter recently led me to ask her if she could watch a movie or a TV show or read a book about a girl, what would it be about.
“She’ll be a superhero,” she tells me with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her lips. “She’ll wear a cape and fly and make fire, and she’ll beat the bad guys!”
“Oh, yeah,” I say, smiling along and taking notes. “And what will her name be?”
“That’s easy, ” she says. “It’s the same as mine.”
She’s right. She will be the superhero–one to whom I will gladly have defend my dollhouse, my real house and the future of the free world. Now all I have to do is make sure she believes it as much as I do.
Help me find a super hero for my daughter. What are your favorite girl-power books, movies and toys?