My daughter’s very favorite color is pink. Not green like her favorite living room chair or blue to match her eyes. The pinkest pink you can possibly imagine. Pink so pink red just shrugs in despair. She drapes herself in the color as if it were an essential part of her being. I’m going to paint her room pink this summer at her request to go along with her roughly ten pairs of pink pants and ten pink shirts and the two pairs of pink sneakers and the pink puffer coat I bought her a garage sale.
We were sitting here the other day watching the National Ladies Figure Skating championship. Not the snowboarding or the skiing but the stuff with the sequins, the pleats and the little skirts. She likes the princessy aspect of it. She wants to wear long dresses and pleads with me to coax her curls into an elaborate updo. We’ll be glued to the screen next month when they do the big Olympics Competition.
I’ve been told this is supposed to be bad. We live a world where mothers of daughters are now expected to tell their daughters that the princess is a shallow invention not worthy of her attention. We’re supposed to encourage our daughters to watch hockey instead of figure skating, basketball instead of artistic gymnastics.
Call me a bad mom but I think I’ll take a pass. She doesn’t like hockey. She has no desire to throw a football or become a firefighter. And I’m okay with it. I don’t plan to teach my daughters that power should be heredity or that she ought to plan her life around marrying one of the inbred Germans who currently make up the British royals. I watch Downton Abbey mostly to be grateful that way of life is no longer much of an option in today’s world.
I plan to teach my girls that the dresses they like so much were created by people with imagination and skill. I plan to teach her that the effortless triple loop she so admired from the girl only slightly older than she is probably came to the skater after about twenty million falls and a dozen years of early morning skating lessons.
We go ice skating every so often. As I did when I was young and spent my winters at the Coney Island rink, she loves it. She puts on her skates and she’s someone else. I don’t know if that someone else is a princess or a member of the current US ice dance team that will probably win gold next month. It might be just plain old wonderful Serena who can feel the gloriously promising ice below her feet and her growing power above it.
Let’s do all we can to encourage girls to plan a career as a plumber or an engineer if that’s where their hearts lie. My husband’s an engineer by training and he has an wonderful mind. Let’s tell our boys they can become labor and delivery nurses and stay at home dads. But let’s all let our girls become elementary school teachers or ballerinas if they like.
Real freedom must come with the right to put on tutu and a tiara as well as a doctor’s stethoscope. I want my daughter to out earn her husband if she wants or stay at home if that’s where her calling is. I want her to attend ballet classes or just sit back and enjoy a glorious performance of Giselle.
Most of all I want those choices to be hers and hers alone.