Raising Girls (The Hints, Music and A Prayer From Tina Fey Edition)
8th July 2015
While Keith was away recently, I found myself at one point screaming ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ at my eight year old daughter. ‘You don’t get to scream!’ I helpfully screamed. ‘Only the mother gets to scream!”
Later, I gathered the troops around me and apologised. It was the housework that made me lose it, of course. Doing housework while you live with small children, I read somewhere once, is like running a blender with the top off. Sometimes you spend all evening getting the house together and the next morning, it’s like it never happened. In terms of work, it’s like every week I write the same report and it gets shredded in front of me. Groundhog Day. It can grind at your soul, comradres! At your vurry soul!
Anyways, the apologising is an important follow-on from the mother-rage. But daughters should be allowed to lose it and apologise too, I’ve decided. So I shall try not to do that ‘Don’t you scream at me!’ scream again. Note to self.
In general, raising kids is an ongoing training program, for me and Keith and for them. My two girls are the unmitigated joys for my life. The big one carries a 700 page Harry Potter book everywhere and wants to be a comedian astronaut, and the little one copies everything her siblings do, morphed through the wierdo filter of the three-year -old. We call her ‘Replay’, and every replay is absurd and delicious. They are the best. And I want to do my best job at bringing them up.
An article I read this week held some interesting ideas, including these:
Encourage your daughter to pursue a passion.
**Encourage her to solve issues on her own rather than fixing things for her.**
**Encourage her to take physical risks.**
Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.
**Make regular time to listen - and listen more than you talk. **
Acknowledge her struggles but keep a sense of perspective.**
In terms of advice, for me, nothing will ever top Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter:
**First, Lord: No tattoos.** May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches. **May she be Beautiful but not Damaged**, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty. When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer. **Guide her, protect her** when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age. **Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.** Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit. May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers. Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait. **O Lord, break the Internet forever**, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed. And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it. And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. **“My mother did this for me once,”** she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes. **Amen.”**
In the final reckoning, daughters are so much fun. Mine bring me enormous delight at the moment, but it’s all swings and roundabouts. Tomorrow morning one of them might awaken into a crazy-eyed changeling, ‘whetevering’ and eye-rolling me until I hide in the bathroom, eat cooking chocolate and weep. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life…
If it all finally, comes to naught, turn to the healing power of music and let Dan teach you how to play the way you feel when your daughter says she hates you. Remember, if the daughter who hates you is under 10, be sure to put a capo on the fourth fret!