My daughter is seven years old today, April 13. She is a magical
child: ebullient, curious, whimsical--a real gift. I am charmed
by the passion she brings to her life. The highs can be very
high at our house.
It is in this first grade year that I have observed the beginnings
of a real division between the boys and girls in her life. My
proud first grader, ever the astute observer, shares her insights
at the family dinner table. Why are the boys in her first-grade
class so noisy? Who thinks girls have cooties? Why is it always
boys chase the girls or girls chase the boys? Why are the girls
so involved with forming complicated alliances and clubs?
And what does this marvel of nature want for her seventh birthday?
SWhe has asked for a fishing rod and a slip.
She envies me my slips. She covets all things lacy and frilly.
This choice expresses, I think, her desire to grow up, to be
like me--and her love of the ornamental.
I will give her a slip to add to her collection. I have always
thought that the value of playfulness--expressiveness--in attire
is sadly undervalued in our society.
A fishing rod? She longs for adult accouterments and activities
here as well. Grownups fish; they are competent acquirers of
their own food. She, unlike myself at her age, fearlessly baits
her own hook and avidly awaits the nibble from the fish large
enough to be a "keeper."
I watch her unbridled enthusiasm for clothes and sports with
wonder. I am not unaware of the pressures ahead for one so intelligent
and spirited. But, for now, she is apparently unperturbed by
so many of the gender rules that mattered so much to me even
at seven. She believes she can do and be anything.
And she thinks that I, inept career and family juggler that
I am, can do anything too. That is her gift to me on this seventh
anniversary of her birth.
Makes me want to put on a slip and get myself down to the