14 January 2009

The Good Thing About Being A Girl

So the other night I was watching television with Wee Lass, channel surfing to get my recommended daily allowance of Spongebob Squarepants and Fairly OddParents, when Her Royal Sweetness decides to get all Disney-channel on my decidedly pushover ass. She insisted that she wanted to watch ‘Phineas and Ferb’ or the ‘Mickey Mouse Crack House’ or something. Ooops. Did I say ‘crack house’? I meant ‘Playhouse’. I’d swear, though, that programming is like an audiovisual form of a controlled substance. Odds are that if you have a tyke in the house, you WILL be watching Disney at some point. No way around that.

Anyway, we are layin’ eyeballs on whatever it was that she wanted to watch and a commercial comes on. Not a commercial, exactly, but one of those “behind the scenes” looks at whatever the hot ‘tween show du jour is: you know, the ones that show shiny, buffed and/or artfully messy boys and girls running production studios or being fashion designers or just ‘chillin’ and being annoyingly “cool”. This one was interviews with the stars of the a show, purportedly showing you just achingly hip they are, and willing to share their “wisdom” with you. I’m sorry, it’s not wisdom they call it, it’s dating and fashion advice.

No problem so far. I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to stuff like this, but it seems pretty innocuous. The pretty little (and suspiciously well-attired; oh, right she has a wardrobe department and make-up staff and catering, etc.) pop starlet on screen is blabbering about how you can have an outfit that isn’t quite together but never fear! It can be fixed! She then proceeds to lay this little gem on us (not verbatim, but you’ll get it):

“The good thing about being a girl is that girls get to wear purses.”

I guess our little fashionista hasn’t seen anything like this:*


Crap. I have SOOO many outfits that could be accessorized if I could get to wear a purse. But I burp a lot, scratch myself and have nards. So I can’t be a girl, at least without a WHOLE lot of therapy and multiple operations. Sigh, a guy can dream, I guess.

I know, I know, it’s all supposed to be good fun, something that will appeal to the ‘tween set** and get them all ‘in the know’. I was a little taken aback by it, though. Here we have one of the largest media companies in the world with tremendous influence over the (buying) decisions and impressions of millions of people, including young girls and their parents (otherwise known as ATM and Money Tree) who watch them all the time, and the best they can do is purses?

I am fortunate that Wee Lass is only four years old now, and a lot of the advertising that she sees is like water off a duck’s back. She never says anything about the commercials unless it is something very obvious like “Moon Sand” or “Princess Playset” and the like. But wouldn’t it be cool, just once or twice, to see an infomercial that the good thing about being a girl is that girls get to be:


A Head of State

or


A top-notch footballer

or

A Well-known Scientist

Or even a…


A Really Cool Mother

I don’t know. I am a little at sea as to how I can handle this when Wee Lass gets bigger and starts asking bigger, better questions about life and all its possibilities. I know it isn’t realistic to tell her that she can and will be able to do everything under the sun, but I don’t want her to grow up thinking that her life choices are to be dictated by what other individuals say she should be doing or who she should be. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look pretty (and don’t we all?) and have good taste in fashion and exhibiting those traits traditionally associated with being a girl. She IS a girl, and I have a feeling she will grow up to be a spectacular woman.

I just hope that I can help her understand that what is important is that she be herself, to not let others dictate to her what she can and cannot do. And if that means she goes to college on a full soccer scholarship and wins a World Cup while studying nanotechnology whereupon she invents a little machine that can get rid of cancer and goes on to be President while raising two wonderful kids of her own, well, that would really cool. Not mandatory, but cool.

Head of state, footballer, scientist, mother or something different: She may be Daddy’s little girl, but more importantly, I hope she knows to be her own girl, purse and all.

*For you football, er, soccer fans out there, yes that is Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best ‘ballers in the business. Pretty isn’t he, ladies? I hate him. He doesn’t play for Arsenal. Carries a manpurse well, though.
**In fairness, there was a well-groomed young lad in a polo shirt, cool jeans and some sort of Vans-like shoes, showing the ‘tween guys how to look cool. He did not have as much bling as the lass with the purse. Pity.

56 comments:

  1. Okay, now I don't feel so bad about giving you a girly award. In fact, maybe you'll kinda like it. LOVE THIS POST! And AMEN!

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  2. Girl Power! I love it.
    Bhutto was pretty cool. Also, if you get a purse, please post a photo. That would be awesome.

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  3. With you as her dad, there is absolutely NO DOUBT that she will grow up to be a spectacular woman.
    Just so you know.
    I don't like Christiano. I don't know him, but I don't like the way he holds his manbag thingy.

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  4. Nice post dude. Love the message behind it and your daughter is super duper lucky to have a daddy who cares so much about her growing into a strong, intelligent woman. Kudos to you!

    And I thought you were just a perv cause of all the comments over on Cat's blog. I was wrong. You are a great dad AND a perv!

    BTW, I am putting you on my blogroll so I can stalk you now. You're in big time trouble...

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  5. I am soooo glad I have boys. And if we looked like Christiano, we could carry purses too. Bastard.

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  6. Um yeah, I am where you are - the ugly face of Hanna Montana is starting to enter our houselhold and I don't know how to stop it!!

    She was loving on Dora just a few days ago - what happened?

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  7. The princess has landed at our house too. Even my 5-year-old kung-fu master will occasionally don a princess dress and dance around with his 2-year-old sister, who is in full-frontal princess mode 24/7 and they are both pretty. Maybe our kids will all grow up realizing that pretty and tough and cool and macho and sassy are adjectives, not genders.

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  8. "Curmudgeon" is a great word that isn't used often enough.

    Is there a term for the President's father? First Dad?

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  9. I dont like christiano for one reason...his eyebrows are prettier than mine

    I hope Wee Lass kicks his ass one day!

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  10. Absolutely beautiful post! This is the reason you're one of my favorite bloggers. You wear your heart on your sleeve instead of sticking it in your man purse.

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  11. Have you ever seen the movie "Mickey Mouse Monopoly"? It's so good.
    So far we have managed to be Disney free, but I know it's coming...

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  12. Poor Madame Curie...it's not every day that your discovery kills you.

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  13. don't worry, in no time she'll be calling you a fucking b......um....bastard.

    yeah. That day WILL come....and you'll still love her. (YOu just might not like her so much....)

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  14. My sister calls it *Mickey Mouse Craphouse*. Beware the evil empire. Disney Channel is MTV for the pre-school set.
    Love this post, and love that your possible in-real-life-name is Kevin (reading between the lines, or not reading carefully enough).
    Your wee lass will grow up strong despite the media, sure of it.
    ;-) Erin

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  15. It's amazing, I find myself having conversations with my just-turned-9year old miss that I didn't expect to have till she was eleven or twelve. Like "You don't need to let any boy define who you are. You define who you are by what you want and the choices you make." That was in response to her telling me that some of her friends change the way they act around the boys to get their attention; the smart one acts "dumb" (her word, not mine), the well behaved one acts naughty, etc. She asked if she had to do that to make the boys like her better.

    This is a THIRD-GRADER, folks!

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  16. When I was in grammar school, my dad was my troops' girl scout leader, and we did all kinds of non-traditional things like building a doll-house from scratch, building a puppet theater, fishing, real camping in the woods, etc. It was the best experience ever. We never felt like they were "boy" activities. They were "you can do this" activities. And now I can weild (my own) power drill like nobody's bidniz. But I also have a ton of purses and am a real girly-girl. So you can have the bet of both worlds.

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  17. Great post! I don't have a girl, but there is just a dearth of positive role models that are presented to them at a young age.

    She's got you though and it looks like that's all she's going to need.

    Just say no to the manpurse.

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  18. I am so glad your wee lass has a daddy like you. I joke about it, but I'm glad my kid's father wants to turn her into a rabid, screaming UCLA Bruins/St. Louis Cardinals/Rams fan. Just like him. And that he's a big believer in girls playing sports, and that he thinks pink sends the wrong message to them. He gets really annoyed every time somebody gives us yet another cutesy pink outfit, and for every cutesy pink outfit we get we have to balance it with a yellow, green, or blue one. There's a method to his madness.

    As for me, I'm not a big pink fan either, but I'm totally lost when someone turns on football. I like going to baseball games, but usually just to gawk at people there.

    But I'll teach her about books. And tea. I really think she'll like tea.

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  19. So this has nothing to do with your post, really, except for the whole cartoon thing, and somebody thinking your name might be Kevin made me think of the cartoon 321 Penguins on Qubo (I think NBC carries it Saturday mornings?) Anyway, one of the penguins' names is Kevin. And the way he says his name is HI-Freaking-LARIOUS!

    But then again, I'm pregnant, and my views on things are a little bit altered...

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  20. As the mother of two girls I can claim to be the biggest commercial my daughters have. I am a 24/7 brain-encouragement machine. We, the parents of girls (and boys), need to let those girls know that they can be whatever they want (even if there's no money for the tuition). Maybe one day they'll run an advertising agency and convince the Disney Mice to advertise Snow White with a PhD.

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  21. Believe me, it starts now. If you want her to learn ANYTHING from you...start now! I promise, it's true.

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  22. With you as an example of the thoughtful, intelligent male, she's going to do all right. :-)
    You will be the man by which she judges all others; and for what it's worth, I think you're pretty cool.
    Pearl
    p.s. Nards?! :-)

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  23. I came by way of Lisa (Wearin my heart on my sleeve).

    This entry took me back to when I was in high school and I wanted to take "boy" classes like horticulture, astronomy and mechanics! I was a girl who loved fashion, etc. I was told I need to take cooking and sewing classes that would be useful to me. That was the thinking of the 70's.

    I'm happy to say I married a man who can cook .. and write among other fun stuff. It's a good thing he cooks because I rebelled in school and didn't pay attention.

    Anyway, keep giving your daughter those messages that she can be anything she puts her heart.

    Monica

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  24. ...and I was all "Who's that good looking fucker with the purse? why. That looks like Man. U's meal ticket, I mean, Golden Boy". how long before Real Madrid makes a play for him. Maybe they already have. Without cable television, I'm out of the Premiership loop. Give me Liverpool and Stephen Gerrard any day. Stevie G. uses Christiano Ronoldo to wipe with.

    Secondly, I hate that bloody Moon Sand. I have my reasons.

    But I do like a princess playset. It makes me feel pretty.

    Girls. Ye gads. I'm teaching the Goat Jujitsu now. We're working on take down and wrist lock techniques. No shit. She's awesome.

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  25. Beautiful.

    Wee Lass has a father who will hold back the tide before allowing his little girl to be programmed by the pervasive information zeroing in on little girls and suggesting dissapointing messages. This is a serious fight you have on your hands. She's going to get messages from everywhere.

    I'm proud of you. I know I don't know you. I just know this little girl has a real man as a father.

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  26. Irish,

    I say this with respect and love:

    Do you have any idea what you are doing to the rest of us guys?!

    Holy crap man, you are setting the bar WAY TOO HIGH!

    First there's all the great writing and now this sensitive world's-greatest-dad-whose-in-touch-with-his feminine-side stuff. You are KILLING me/us. There is no way we can compete with your eloquence and over-all sensitivity. The mommy-bloggers out there are CRAZY falling for you. Meanwhile the rest of us can barely get a nod of recognition on my/our blog(s). My comment numbers are plummeting! Why? Because I'm no Irish Gumbo, that's why.

    I/we get it: you are better than me/us. How about you give it a rest? Take a couple of days off. Go to the movies fer chrissakes!

    Seriously, you do raise that bar, but in a good way. Keep at it.

    Your little girl is a lucky one. So is her mother.

    IB

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  27. Adlibby: Hey, don’t feel bad! I am confident in my girlymanliness. Thank you!

    Shonda: Cowgirl up! Yes, she was. And I can’t believe you want to see my purse, naughty girl ;)

    Belle: *blush* Wow, thank you! Cristiano is good, but a bit of a whinger. “manbag thingy” – I sense underwear potential there…

    Petra: *still blushing* Thank you! And that other stuff? That was my evil twin, Dolph, yeah, that’s it. See, he hacked my password again, did all that posting…Just what kind of trouble, exactly? ;)

    Captain: Who says I don’t look like Cristiano? Oh, yeah, everyone…yeah, bastard!

    Krystal: I suggest a large mallet. Dora was just the ‘gateway’ figure, know what I mean?

    Rebekah: Hey, MY princess dress looks fabulous on me. Well, it would, if I had one. Which I don’t. Not anymore. HEY, just stop judging me will you? Gahhhhddd!

    Baldy: I am looking for more applications for it. And the term for the President’s father? In my case, it would be ‘Proud’!

    It’s All Good: Well, he has his own personal groomer take care of them. Maybe she will, she can just about kick mine now!

    Chris: Thank you. And under the arm of that sleeve is a GORGEOUS manpurse!

    Michelle: I have now, thank you for those clips. Quite good! Yes, brace yourself…

    KMcJoseph: Shh! I was hoping no one would remember that! Extra credit to you, young man.

    VM: She already does, me and my big mouth. (kidding) Oh, when it happens *sniff* I’ll be so proud *sniff* chip off the ol’ block! And yes, I’ll still love her, ‘cause I am a big-hearted bastard.

    OAM: They breached my security! Aiigghh! Thank you. And the name? It’s a code name…

    Mrs. C: Wow! Time for a little talk!

    Robin: Go, girl! And I like the description “you can do this activities”. I’ll have Wee Lass doing the household repairs in no time! (wink)

    Heinous: Man, thanks for that, high praise indeed! And the manpurse? I can return as long as I have the receipt, right?

    Amy: Thank you. I hope every day that she still likes me. So far, so good. And tea is good!

    Pamela: A little bit altered? I have got to check this penguin voice out, it’s not like I have enough reasons for people to mock me :)

    Laura: Awesome concept!

    Shabby girl: I better get crackin’…

    Pearl: Thoughtful? Intelligent? Uh, are you commenting on the right post? (grin) Thank you. Yeah, nards. It’s a candy, marketed at men, full of big nuts. (sorry, that was too easy, boo all you want):)

    Monica: Oh, that’s not right, and I do remember that from my early schooling. But it looks like it balanced out for you! And I will keep on with the messages.

    cIII: Why, it’s me! (grin) Word up on Golden Boy. I just can’t stand the Red Devils. Sorry about the lack o’ vision. I’m an Arsenal man, but for the record, if Gooners can’t take the League, UP THE ‘POOL!. Beware the day when the Student becomes the Master, sensei .

    Charmaine: *double blush* *gulp* That is one of the highest compliments I have ever received. (bowing) Thank you! (and glad to have you back!)

    IB: Sorry, crap, sorry! Um, maybe I should do a ‘I like Boobs, ‘cause they funny!’ post? I’ll try and bring that bar down a notch; if it’s too high we won’t be able to reach our drinks ;) And thank you so much for the kind words. Mmm, mmm! (and really? I’m the lucky one.)

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  28. *clap clap clap clap!*

    Hooray for you and your awesome ideas of what women can be. :)

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  29. Vodka Mom is right Gumby...Enjoy your time with Wee Lass because she will be enforcing the wall of privacy soon enough. So really, as long as she doesn't put make up and a dress on you and then insist you go to town that way...you'll be ok.
    :)

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  30. I am with IB...knowing there are men like you OUT there is going to make me a LOT more selective with who I date (not that I am looking for a baby-daddy, or even a sugar daddy). In my limited experience with wee lasses, (I have worked with a bazillion of them in my years), it is the truly ones with daddies like you who grow up whole and complete and full of self confidence and awareness. The assault from TV and other media CAN be thwarted by the right parents, and I hope you continue to be such a clear thinker about her, and communicate with her as openly as you do with us. All I can say is read her the stories, read to her ALL the time. Smart girls go so much farther than the ones who don't learn it is not just ok, but friggin' COOL, to use the brains!

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  31. You sir, are an excellent father. While I understand the wanting to be a girly girl position that some little girls take, I think it is important to instill in our daughters that they can do whatever they set their minds to.

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  32. ps. there's a dad at my kids' school who carries a purse. i swear to god, i DIE every time i see him at carpool.

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  33. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter that lead me to an epiphany. Our conversation happened at my almost 4 year old's ballet class. Her class all girls, by chance. So she's decided that ballet is for girls. So we point out whenever we see boys dancing, especially ballet (like the Nutcracker). As we were leaving class, a young man was practicing along in antoher studio. He was amazing. So I pointed him out and told her- "See? Boys can do anything girls can do!"

    It made me wonder why we teach our girls that "you can do anything a boy can do." That automatically discounts the position of female. Why don't we focus instead on boys being able to do anything a girl can do?

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  34. I agree, it is difficult to find a balance between encouraging our daughters to be strong and independent women and to honor who they are and their interests.

    But there is hope. I'm a feminists and I love me my purses.

    btw, you know you could get kicked off of Facebook with that photo, right?

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  35. Not being a mommy blogger, but rather a tough old broad who staring grandparenthood and Empty Nest Syndrome both right in the face, I tend to like you because you're a fan of single malts and have a righteous sense of humor, not because of your awesome sensitivity.

    Just thought I'd get that out right up front.

    I think we, as parents, worry a little too much sometimes about how we'll manage to raise our children so they become well-rounded and confident adults. The fact that you are concerned about it goes a long way to ensuring your daughter will more likely be a Marie Curie rather than a Paris Hilton.

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  36. I struggle with this all the time with my daughter. Sure, she's only eight months old but I'm very particular about what toys I buy for her and how we raise her. I've been in the stores and seen all of the pink kitchen sets and irons geared toward raising little girls to obey their men and it disgusts me. I want my kid(s) to be whatever they want and not what society says they should be. Great post, IG.

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  37. Hi, found you through cw2smom,or "wearing my heart on my sleeve" anyway I am an instant fan, I have a 2 and 3 yr old both girls and I hate Disney too. We use an old replay tv unit that cuts out the commercials, it was pulled from the market because of that reason. we are thinking of switching to internet tv where you can just stream in the shows without all the other crap, anyways I totally relate, thanks for sharing

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  38. As the mother of an almost 9 year old girl, I can tell you that no matter how much you try to shield them from all the traditional girly crap, it's gonna get through.

    So, my advice is to just reiterate over and over and over again that it's her intelligence and kindness and innate goodness that are what makes her so special. Toss in a beautiful every once in a while.

    I have conversations all the time with my daughter about how you are on the INSIDE is what matters. We also talk about her dreams and I'm proud to announce that princess and supermodel are not part of her dreams!

    Gah....I've said too much. Sorry.

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  39. My girly girl is now 19 and despite her girly girlishness, knows her own mind and goes for what she wants.

    Disney crack house, unfortunatley turns into The Hills....

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  40. being married to a futbol player, i'd be remiss to not be able to identify the great Ronaldo.. he's the upside of watching little men run around on a big green field chasing a ball...

    where was i?

    oh yeah, purses.

    I'm not much of a purse fan myself - i'm more about function than fashion (perhaps, why i'm not real um.. knowledgeable? in that area?. hm.)

    but the message here 'girls: more than just pretty purse holders' is golden. thank you! your daughter is truly blessed to have you as a father.

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  41. I'm extremely worried about the messages TV is shooting at our little girls. It seems like the boy stuff/boy shows haven't changed too much - but the crap targeted at girls? Gag.

    Let me ask you a question..(since you asked meeeee a question)

    If there's an 8 yr old girls sitting alone flipping channels..basic cable channels let just say...do you think, through 8 yr old eyes, there's any difference between the Girls Next Door...and Hannah Montana? Britney Spears..and ICarly?

    See what I'm saying?

    Also, did you know that The Girls Next Door is unrated? most chanel blocks don't block it.

    THis is a great site for parents of girls:

    The Girl Revolution traceesioux@yahoo.com

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  42. wow. um..hmm, kinda went off on tht huh? Sorry.

    I just want to say one more thing. If she has a daddy that's analyzing the purse message - she's going to be fine. :)

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  43. I imagine that with a dad like you, your little girl wil grow up to be a free spirited, independent, creative woman! If she doesn't fall in love with some knot head boy who messes with her head, she will be fine! Screen the boyfriends...that's the secret!

    Malisa

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  44. My daughter, the Wii Lass, has found some awesome role models on TV... Dr Temperance Brennan on Bones and Abby of NCIS.

    The Disney channel days will pass. Really.

    And sweetie, don't worry about it so much. I and my entire generation were raised on girlie shit and we kick ass.

    Do her a favour, and tell her it's ok if she doesn't do everything without dropping the ball every once in a while. And really, we just want them to be happy? No?


    SMOOCH

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  45. Hm, the dude in the first photo should know he should store his lipstick in his purse. If he keeps it where he has it stuffed, it may melt.
    Just sayin.
    :-)

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  46. "I hope she knows to be her own girl, purse and all."

    Boy papa, you hit that one on the head. Beautiful perfect line that I wish all little girls were lucky enough to learn along the way....it's all about being your own.

    Lovin' it as a "not so purse girl" and mama to two little girls (4 and 6) on their way to their own thing...

    :-)

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  47. Awesome post. I have two girls here, and I also believe that the ads are just Hannah Montanna/High School Musical/Camp Disney Tween training.

    Ugh.

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  48. Teri: (bowing) Thank you. I like to think she could be any, all or none, just as long as she gets to say who and what she wants to be. I’ll just offer friendly advice.

    Sweet Cheeks: (sigh) I know, I’m hoping to stall it. Oh, I’ll have you know I look great in a sundress! It’s the legs, I tell ya, its all in the gams…

    SSP: Oh, jeez, I’m probably going to get an ass whuppin’, just don’t tell the guys it was ME that did it!

    Kat: *blush* Thank you. I should print this out and save it for when I need some leverage, in her teens.

    Ali: Well, does it at least go with his outfits?

    Liz: Wow, I hadn’t thought of it way. Good point!

    PHFL: Balance, it’s balance I like. Purse or power tool or both, it should be her choice. And eep! Which photo are you referring to?

    Jan: I, too, am seeking balance. Humor and single malts are a critical part of that effort! And I would love it for her to Marie Curie rather than Paris Hilton.

    Casey: Exactly! Testimony out there!

    C & C: Welcome! And thank you for stopping by!

    MD: True that! And I will do as you say. You all smart and stuff…

    PHST: The Hills? Please, no, oh lord…

    CPM: You just get more and more interesting! Futbol, indeed! Thank you for thst, I hope to keep living up to it.

    That Girl: You’re right about the crap. Seems like it hasn’t evolved much. And there doesn’t seem to be enough of a difference to matter at least to the youngins’. Thanks for the link! (and thank you for that vote of confidence!)

    MHM: Shouldn’t be a problem, I ain’t letting her out of the house until she’s, say, 21.

    Anndi: I hope so. And I believe you: girls can kick ass! Don’t worry, I’ll do what you said, because I know about the not being happy part.

    SK: Aw, man, now you made my mind go there! YOU tell him…

    L-MWOB: That is exactly it, I hope I can get it right.

    GF: Hey, good to hear from you! Crap, you say they TRAIN them?!

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  49. My mum thought that post was excellent and gushed about it for ages. (Henry sighs and rolls his eyes) Sorry Irish, but I think you're brownnosing - it's all these ladies hanging around your blog that's doing it, I reckon;)

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  50. Henry: Brownnosing? Moi? Why, I never..I'm shocked, shocked, I say! That you would even think I...

    (uh,oh, he's on to me...) :)

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  51. I used to worry about us bringing up our daughter to be well-balanced and all the rest of it. I needn't have worried.... she has good self-esteem, is kind and considerate but wont tolerate any nonsense from anyone. However, she is still only eleven! lol We've got the 'boy thing' yet to face ...... But no matter how we worry about doing our best to guide them, it seems they do a pretty good job of finding their own way. I think it helps for them to know they have a loving parent/parents there in the background. :)

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  52. p.s. Great photo of Cristiano! :D

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  53. Lesley: Whew! That is encouraging. You know, it could be a case of her teaching me to be a confident parent, rather than the other way around.

    The photo: I snagged it of some bizarro celebrity website after Googling "man purse" and "football"

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  54. Lol, you could be right there! But I bet they'll go through all the same worries when they get to be a parent. :D

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  55. If you show her this post...she'll <3 you. When her daughter was 5 she referred to Barbie as "a tool of the patriarchy". I kid you not. 'Twas totally and completely awesome.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."


-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...