Why I Want More Girls in My Life

Photo Credit: Mike Baird (Creative Commons)

A few months ago (possibly even a few years ago) I read an article about the way we talk to young girls.  In the article the author pointed out that most of our conversations with young girls focus on their appearance.  We tell them that they are pretty or that their dress is cute or that we like their.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing – everyone likes to feel beautiful – but we so often stop there and inadvertently reinforce the message that the most important thing about a girl is her appearance.

The author than described her experience talking with a friend’s daughter.  She said that whenever she would interact with this young girl that she would give her compliments, of course, but that she would also ask her about what she was learning in school and what books she was reading and the things she was interested in.  She said that her friend’s daughter seemed to come to life during these conversations and would just talk and talk and talk in a way she didn’t she her talk with anyone else.

I have no idea who wrote the article or what website I saw it on, otherwise I would link to it, but the basic idea has stuck in my brain.  After reading it, I decided I wanted to be that adult in the lives of the girls around me.  I wanted to shower them with compliments, yes, but I also wanted to hear about their lives and encourage them to explore things outside of the pretty princess culture (although if you know me at all, you know I love a good princess story).

I decided all of this and then looked around and realized I had absolutely no young girls in my life.  And while I do try to do this type of thing with my female students, it’s not really the same.  So I filed it away in the back of my mind, just waiting for my friends’ babies to get big enough to actually have conversations.

Well, Sunday night I finally got to put this into action.  I was over at some friends’ house for Sunday night dinner and there was a family there with an 8-year-old girl, Grace (not her actual name, of course).  Grace and I ended up sitting near each other, and I was very impressed when she actually struck up a conversation with me.  It is a rare child who has the skills to begin a conversation with an adult they’ve never met.

As we began talking, this article popped into my head and I started asking her questions.  And you know what?  We had a fantastic conversation.  I found out that she likes singing and writes her own songs, which her mom and dad say are very good.  Her favorite subject in school is math and that she doesn’t like history because the stories aren’t very exciting.  Her favorite books are the Diary of Wimpy Kid books.  She told me all about her dad’s organization, Build a Better Us, and that her favorite foods are hot wings and Chinese food, and asked me what my favorites were.  She asked me about my job and my talents and even my spiritual gifts.

Basically, Grace is a fantastic young lady.  She is well-spoken and respectful.  She is inquisitive without being rude and was incredibly well-behaved while being surrounded by a bunch of adults.  She obviously has a lot of opinions and ideas, and I hope I get to hear a lot more about them in the future.

Our conversation also made me more interested in seeking out the company of elementary-aged girls, an age group that has never really been on my radar before.  For as many times as I’ve said I’m not a kid person (I really prefer teenagers…strange, I know), I’m kind of liking the idea of establishing myself as a kind of “Aunt Rachel” in the lives of the kids around me.  I’m looking forward to being there as the daughters in my community group grow older and start school.  I want to get to know Kelly and Paul’s boys better.  I want to be that consistent, adult presence in their lives, someone who loves them unconditionally even though they are not my own.

And I am desperately praying that God will allow me to stay here in this community, in this city, long enough for roots to grow deep.

*Photo Credit: Mike Baird (Creative Commons)

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  1. Anonymous

     /  July 25, 2012

    I would love to have heard your conversation with “Grace”. It is such a delight when a child engages so freely with a grown-up; I feel honored when one looks me in the eye and invites me into their world via conversation. I teach 1st and 2nd grade special ed in public school and elementary has always been my niche at church, yet I never tire of more time with children. Talking that is. Playing, not so much. That is what I do with preschoolers (who tend not to talk unless they are playing). Once in a while I realize I need to cultivate my social skills in the adult world a bit more.

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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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