"One of the boys." It's not how I would have ever thought to describe my 7-year-old daughter. And yet, when a long-time friend and father of two of her friends said it, I realized it was true.
When we walk into a house teeming with little boys, my daughter is not the girl who sits in a corner waiting for another child with the same anatomy to arrive. She's the kid who grabs a Nerf gun and drives right into the fray. At 7, almost 8, I'm relieved to say she sees the boys in her life as her friends. Good friends. Her best friends.
I can't be more relieved.
It's tough to walk the line between teaching my daughter to be proud of her girl power and being honest about the awful things girls can do to one another. There is real science behind the mean girl phenomenon.
I'm in my 30s, and I'm still seeing them. Only now they're tittering behind your back about your husband instead of your hairbands.
It starts in preschool, and it never ends. I want to protect her from those girls.
And yet, she is a girl.
That girls are evil and vicious is hardly the lesson I want her to internalize. I want her to be proud of who she is. I want her to be one of the good girls, one of the girls who is kind, who refuses to take part in the catty backbiting.
Not all girls are bad. If I thought that, what kind of woman would I be? What kind of mother to a little girl?
I wouldn't want to scare my daughter away from curating relationships with good girl friends, and I haven't. When she first drafted a list of invitees for her birthday party (in true 7-year-old fashion the list was made a month ago, and her birthday isn't until June), she included at least three little girls.
But the boys on the list far out-numbered the girls.
And I'm relieved.
I'm relieved because there are things that she tends to do with her girl friends (dressing up in pink, poofy princess dresses among them) that she doesn't tend to do with her little boy friends, and vice versa. I've found that she tends to be more rambunctious with her guy friends, and I can tell that she enjoys it. I don't want her to lose that joy.
I'm relieved because I've been dreading the boy crazy stage and all the other issues that come with it (like the talk about not depending on a boy for your self esteem). The longer she looks at boys as friends and brother-types, the better.
But most of all, I'm relieved because I remember my girl friends and I remember my guy friends, and I can tell you who caused me most of my childhood tears. It wasn't the guys.
I just hope this stage lasts.
Is your daughter "one of the boys?" How do you feel about it?
Image by Jeanne Sager