Dear fathers, leave your little princesses be

by Irina Slav

My dear fellow, Y-chromosome carrying, parents of girls, I’m writing this to inform you about a number of things that would spare you a lot of anxiety in years to come. I do this because I deeply respect you and, knowing what a bugger child-related anxiety can be, wish to spare you some of it. Let’s face it, even if your little princess is still a toddler, you’re already picturing what you would do to that unfortunate individual who, in 15 years’ time, will have the stupidity to ask your precious little one out on a date, aren’t you? And it’s nothing good, I bet. And, oh, my, how time flies… So, here’s what: I’ll share my perspective as mother of a girl and you can draw your own conclusions.

For starters, my dear fellow parents, you do not have a little princess, you have a daughter. Yes, she is the most precious thing in the world to you, but she is not a living doll that needs to be kept in perfect condition and protected from absolutely everything. By this I mean that you need to brace yourself for scratches, cuts, bumps and bruises. I very much disagree with the idea that little boys are more active than little girls, I have proof, after all. Little girls fall on their heads just like little boys, they eat things they shouldn’t and they climb places they shouldn’t. Get used to it, it’s a question of personality and kids are born with it, like it or not.

I must admit I had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that, apparently, I’ve given birth not to a normal human being but to some hybrid between a girl and a goat (and her father’s not even a Capricorn). So I’m sharing valuable experience here. Sometimes I get tired just by looking at her, trying to climb to the top of some piece of furniture or other and most times succeeding. Falls of the head-first kind were in the double-digit range while she was learning to walk and climb. You get used to it, there’s no other way. If you have a pet, and we have a cat, I suppose you’ll be entertaining felicidal or canicidal thoughts regularly after the first scratch. Don’t worry, scratches won’t leave a a lasting mark. Someone told me that baby skin heals very quickly and I can vouch to this statement’s truthfulness, so give the animal a rest and stop looking at it like this.

For main course, this is what your child is, in descending order of importance: first, a person, second, a little person in your care, third, a girl. This should give you a pretty good idea about what your responsibilities are, but let’s go over them, all the same. Respect the person that your daughter is, do what you can to protect her from serious harm, and do not, repeat, do not make her play with girl toys only. This last one is, I feel, very important. I actually view as an insult the tendency of some parents to immediately place their kids in some stereotypical form, just because that’s what their parents did, and their parents before that, and so on. To hell with these traditions, if the kid wants to play with cars, let her, that’s what we’re doing at home. And this is not a barely concealed brag. Do you think I like the idea of her growing up to be a racing driver or something equally risky (if choice of toys can be interpreted so superficially as the single determinant of future choice of career, of course)? God forbid, but I’m not going to force her into barbies until she shows an interest in them. Let the kid be, I say. If she wants dolls, that’s fine; if she doesn’t, that’s also fine, are we in agreement? Now go buy that train set you were dreaming of getting if you had a son, there’s a good dad. And teach her to fall properly, instead of nagging her about running and jumping. Aim to sit, spare head and extremities, it’s as simple as that.

For dessert, the horrible truth. She will grow up. Somewhere in the world there is, or will be, a little boy who will take her away from you (or a girl, if I should be totally PC, though I don’t want to be). That’s the way things should be, after all, otherwise you wouldn’t have had her in the first place. Bear that in mind and stop eyeing the cute boy that hugs her at the playground in this hostile way.  You will always be the first love of her life, Freud and stuff, you know. She trusts you absolutely and that’s a kind of trust you haven’t done anything to earn, so the only thing you can do is live up to it. And don’t let me hear you murmur “Easy for you to say,” because it bloody well ISN’T.

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