I just found out it was International Day of the Girl yesterday, which is interesting because all day somewhere in the back of my head I had a leaking lament as we bustled from library to supermarket to home for dinner which was deconstructed sushi (I forgot to buy seaweed.) I’m not surprised it passed me by, these last few days I’ve been this tearful mix of exhausted and restless, I’ve hardly known what day of the week it is, let alone what Day of the International whatcha it might be. Ramona and Juno have just made a narrow mountain ridge of mattresses and pillows and are jumping off their bunk on to it. I bid them good luck and sit down to spill these words.
Daughters of mine.
May I never tell you shush.
May I absorb your corrective “ACTUALLY, mum” with grace.
May I be present
to your bombastic roars and your full body rages on the floor.
May I say “Mmmhmmm” appreciatively
in the dead of night
when you float a theory about Barbie’s Secret Door.
May I nod at your spun-out animal facts and labyrinth speeches
that last from breakfast to lunch and beyond and
may I squeeze Tim’s hand that he too might hold his tongue when you “ACTUALLY, dad” him.
May I make room for you in our dinner party conversation
ask you for your thoughts
like I might an honoured guest.
May I deep-breathe and tea-drink when you are in a mood for singing Avril Lavigne
at the top of your voice and I
May I de-brief with you when your friends say shut up and
may I not see it as a blight on your character when your face becomes a screaming mouth to be heard and
may I not see it as a blight on your character when you warrior-pose on the roof of the car with the last packet of toffee-pops begging to be seen.
May I answer your army of marching questions with all the truth I hold and
may I even beat the drum to keep your queries soldiering on.
May I swallow my shushes,
bite on my tongue,
fill my ears with the
For if, the research is right, you’ve only a few years left
of being freely opinionated.
A few more summers where
you feel able to bloom so boldly.
A few more winters where
your femaleness doesn’t freeze your voice.
Nine times less likely than a boy to speak up in class.
Four times lower the self-esteem.
Twice as likely to be insulted for showing leadership.
One day the world will want you to be small.
Today I will give you all the space you need to be big.
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