She is 10.5 going on 30 and an expert on many things that her father knows nothing about including many that he is better informed than she realizes.
This girl of mine is in many ways a female version of me. I see her as proof that there is a genetic component to certain traits.
She is a natural storyteller, a very fine writer and is quick witted. Â The girl loves to laugh and is as much of a clown as her father.
My daughter is a daredevil who loves roller coasters, will climb anything and is a fierce competitor on the soccer field. It makes her angry when her teammates give up or don’t try hard.
In many ways it is simple for me to speak with her about all sorts of stuff because I understand where she is coming from. I get it. It makes sense.
And then come the moments where there I don’t and I feel like I am staring across the gender chasm trying to figure out how it got to be so big, so fast.
Dads & Daughters Are Different
I am privileged and lucky to have good kids. Happy to be close with them and have worked hard to make sure they know they can come to me about anything.
It is something I started when they were quite young because I knew a day would come when more serious stuff would appear and I wanted to do my best to have a relationship that made them comfortable long before it.
That has already paid off because when they are upset they often seek me out to ask for my advice or opinion on whatever it is.
But sometimes this is where I discover how different dads and daughters can be from fathers and sons.
Because sometimes the stories about the interaction between my daughter and other girls just makes me shake my head in wonder because I don’t always get it.
I try to.
I do my best to understand but the dynamic between girls and women is very different from men.
Don’t misunderstand, I am not making a value judgment here I am just pointing out that sometimes the things that girls/women get irritated about aren’t things I normally notice.
You won’t hear me talk about whether someone made a face at me or hear me provide as many details in a story about who said what to who.
If my son has an issue with a kid at school it usually consists of “Johnny was a jerk. He did this.”
That makes sense to me. I understand that.
What I sometimes wonder about is how my daughter can talk about how Katie was a jerk and include a 20 minute story about all sorts of stuff that proves Katie is mean to not just her but other girls.
If I try to show I heard her by saying Katie is mean because she is not nice and she excludes other girls I am sometimes told that I only got part of it and then the other 20 minutes of the story comes back into it.
This frustrates me a little because I don’t want my daughter to think I am not taking her seriously or don’t care but sometimes there is a disconnect there for me.
I figure that it doesn’t exist the same way with my son because I remember being a 14 year-old boy and though I didn’t have all of the electronics they do now the interpersonal stuff is the same.
What I Want My Daughter To Internalize
When my daughter was young I didn’t freak out if people gave her pink items or “girl toys.” That gender neutral stuff always made me shake my head.
She loved playing with dolls and doing all of the traditional girly stuff. But she enjoyed playing with Legos, building trains with Thomas and if you get in her way on the soccer field she’ll try to run you over to get to the ball.
One of the many things I want her to internalize is the message in that Eleanor Roosevelt quote. I want her to recognize her self worth and understand it is not based upon what other people think, what clothes she wears, where she lives, goes to school or any of that other stuff.
I want her to look in the mirror and always love herself because she understands she is special. I want her to recognize I love her and her older brother differently but equally.
They are different people. I don’t expect or need them to be the same.
Add theÂ words above to the mix.
Some hours ago I sat on the floor in her room and listened to her tell me about some of her dreams and her fears and smiled because my girl dreams big.
I love that and hope she never loses it.
When she told me about some people have told her she is silly to have these dreams I paraphrased my buddy Ralph and told her about how many people have tried to crush my dreams.
I may not always follow everything but this I know. There are always people who think they have the right to demean, diminish or marginalize our dreams.
Our job is to protect our dreams and remember that it is up to us to decide whether we should let those words affect us.
I hope she heard me but if not I’ll be around to listen and share my advice any time she wants. Â I just wish she’d honor my request to stop growing up so fast.