Beauty, Middle Fingers and Parental Pause

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Middle Finger Graffiti in Berlin Elevator in Wedding Photo Credit: Iwan Gabovitch

The sun was setting.

Dinner was done.

Nina (my 6 year old daughter) rocked in the back porch hammock with quiet confidence slathered all over her smugly smiling lips as her 3 year old brother Jurian bathed in devastation.

Jurian (through buckets of tears): Nina told me I am not beautiful.

Me: Nina, how would you feel if Jurian told you you were not beautiful?

Nina: I would put my middle finger up at him if he said anything about how I looked.

Me: Nina?

<<Pause>>

<<Pause>>

Me: What I meant to say is please don’t try to hurt your brother’s heart on purpose. I think his heart is hurt. And yes, if someone says something about how you look, I do think you should tell them that’s wack. That’s right.

It’s moments like these when I hear the record screech to a halt. It’s all quiet and I can hear myself repeating a 100 year old script I likely heard from adults my whole life who heard from adults their whole lives and so on – that “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” aka golden rule logic. In many situations, it doesn’t actually work out that mathematically, nor should it. And there are probably so many moments like these when I don’t hear myself being heard by someone else, but tonight…tonight…I did. And it gave me (thank god) a little pause.

30 seconds like these make me feel like I’m raising another generation. My mother probably had these too. They were probably about things I’d consider small now in my 40s, but I truly believe it’s events like these that bear weight as we move forward in the world. Here she is. At the age of 6 she has used her words to bring her brother to tears; words she knows and has heard should hurt feelings. Perhaps they’ve hurt her feelings before as well. I can recall many a tearful recounting of “someone said I wasn’t a pretty girl because I wasn’t wearing a dress” or “they said I was ugly because I didn’t have long enough hair.”

Today, after a couple of years of tears, she is building up that steely armor. That woman who won’t take shit for her looks or hear people telling you how you should and shouldn’t dress, sit, stand, talk, think, feel, and basically exist as a powerful person in the world.

I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I’m proud to endorse my daughter putting her middle finger up at anyone who has something to say about how she looks.

It’s not traditional research, but it’s worth a read…Reasons Moms Who Swear are the Best F*#$ing Moms and gave me the fire to post about this tonight. #goodcompany

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