Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What I Said To My Daughter

She was snuggled in bed next to her sister when it happened. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. As it became more clear he was going to take the title, my newsfeed blew up with women wondering what they'd say to their daughters in the morning. How could they break the news to their girls that a man who bragged about grabbing women by the actual vagina was just elected to the highest office in the land?
Well here's what I said.

"Good morning Chicken. Ya sleepy?"
"Yesssssss. Ughhhh. Wait Mommy, who's president?"
"Well Obama is for now. But last night Trump won."
Her face fell. "I need to potty."
She drug herself to the bathroom and after she washed her hands we cleaned her ears. She got them pierced this weekend as a reward for getting straight A's. She's been asking for a while to get them pierced, but was also super nervous about it hurting. I got my ears pierced as a baby, and I always assumed I'd just pierce my baby's ears too because that's what my mom did and it turned out fine. But I decided to let her make that choice when she got older. She's 7 now.
I made it clear that she could pierce them, but I was honest and yes it would hurt. I took her to the mall, but on the way I told her that even if we got all the way to Claire's, even if she was already sitting in the chair, even if they'd already marked her ears with the little purple marker, even if they opened the package of little sapphire earrings and I had to pay for them, even if they had the gun to her ears and were on 1...2...It was her body. She could say STOP at any time, and we would pay for the earrings and leave right then and there. She had the power to say no. She was the only person who could give consent about what happens to her body. No matter what.
She asked if she could scream, and I told her to scream away. She only yelped for a second, and she was THRILLED with her new little blue sparklies. She walked out of that store feeling like she'd conquered the world.
"Mommy I'm scared and I'm sad." She looked in the mirror as she brushed her hair.
"What scares you babe?"
"Trump is mean. What if he changes the rules? Josie said she is scared because he wants to make a rule that she can't live here."
Josie is Mexican. This isn't something my Sunshine heard at home. This is what a little girl she is friends with told her at school.
"Well Chicken he's actually not the rule maker. He's just President. There's another group of characters who actually write the rules."
"But what if he makes rules and we have to be mean? He's mean and he yells. And he's mad."

That girl might be a mess. She might have a strong personality that gets her into trouble and tries me like a free sample. But she is a rule follower through and through.
One day in class a bunch of the kids caught the bathroom break bug. One kid asked to go, then another, then the whole class all of a sudden needed a "bathroom break". Her teacher was just trying to get through the lesson, so she told them NO MORE BATHROOM! It wasn't malicious. She wasn't trying to abuse anyone. But for crying out loud those bathroom breaks can get contagious, and the poor woman can't keep up with all the government mandated schoolwork if every single kid all of a sudden needs a trip down the hall.
Well rule follower through and through, my Sunshine sat back down. But the thing is she really really had to pee. But the teacher said NO BATHROOM, so Sunshine didn't ask. She heard the rules, and rules is rules.
Math time came and went, and it was time for lunch. So Sunshine marched in line like a good little soldier. But she still really really had to pee.
Her teacher got them all situated in the lunch line, then she left to go have her own quick break all the while completely unaware that one of her ducklings really needed to potty. Again my Sunshine didn't ask because rules is rules. But she still really really had to pee. And no sooner had her authority figure left, but her bladder let go and she had an accident right there in the lunch line.
Mortified, she tearfully told the lunch lady what happened, and the blessed woman ushered her quickly behind the counter and got someone to discreetly clean up the puddle. Sunshine's shoes were filled with pee, so she took them off and put them in a bag.
Ms. April sent my Sunshine to the office to give me a call and she told all the kids in line that Sunshine's shoe had broken. She saved her from complete humiliation.
Instead of bringing a change of clothes I picked her up and brought her home for a little break. She changed out of her wet skirt with tears and we had a good chat about when it's okay to break the rules. I assured her that I would tell her teacher that going forward here's the protocol: Tell your teacher you need to potty. Ask permission to go. If you're told no, and you really need to go, you walk right out and go potty. She was still afraid of getting in trouble, so I assured her that she wouldn't be in any trouble at all because her teacher would be aware of this new set of rules.

We talked about that this morning. The President doesn't make the rules. But even if he influences the rule makers, and rules get passed that are wrong...It's okay to reject that.
No one can MAKE you be cruel. No one can MAKE you hate. None of us have to be afraid to stand up. We can still continue to speak out in the name of love and acceptance.

I handed her the Girl Scout shirt her Mimi bought for her.
"What's the Girl Scout Promise?" I asked her.
"On my honor I will try, to serve God and my country, to help people at all times and to live by the Girl Scout Law."
So no matter what, no matter who gets elected, we will live by the Girl Scout Law.
We will do our best to be Honest and Fair
Friendly and Helpful
Considerate and Caring
Courageous and Strong
Responsible for What We Say and Do
Respect Ourselves and Others
Respect Authority
Use Resources Wisely
Make the World a Better Place
And Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout.
Those are OUR laws. As long as we follow those we don't have to worry about who's in charge of the country. Because are strong women. We are in charge of ourselves. Political leaders might influence lawmakers. But OUR laws trump any hate. We can stand as beacons in this dark world. We will add light. We don't hide from the darkness. We face it head on. We are strong and we are united.

We have sister Girl Scouts who voted Democrat. We have sisters who voted Republican. We have sisters who voted third party. And our sisters before us fought for our right to cast our votes and let our voices be known. All of our voices. We all basically want the same thing. We just have different ideas of how to get there. We have a responsibility to listen to our sisters, and we have to find our common ground. We can stand together and make the world a better place.
Our voice in the world has to be one of hope. And it has to be strong. This election will not grab me or my daughters by any part of our bodies. I have been sexually assaulted. Let me tell anyone who has never lived it, it is scary. It makes you sad, and angry and ashamed and hurt. It makes you feel weak and powerless. But we are not weak and powerless. This vote doesn't define me or my daughters. It doesn't change any part of our journey. If Hillary had been elected our mission would have been the same. We are charged with bringing good into the world. Every single day we are to push forward. We demand respect. We help those in need. We are kind to those who are not kind to us. Because light can pierce darkness.

To my sisters who voted for Trump. I know you have your reasons. I still love you. We just have different life experiences. As long as we stay on the same team, we can still fight for our daughters. Your candidate now has a responsibility to pony up and do the things you voted for while refraining from the things that scare us. From the deepest part of me I really am rooting for him now. I am hoping that the version our country gets is the version you see, not the version we're afraid of. All the world's a stage, and our election has made caricatures of the candidates. I am holding on to hope that your candidate will see the fear in our sisters and brothers and will do his best to put those fears to rest. My hope is that he will work damn hard to show the minorities, women and the men of this country that he is working for all of us. No more fear. No more hate. America is already great. Let's keep moving forward. Maybe he will surround himself with people who will speak for those he has hurt and he will do what he needs to do to pull us all together. If someone who has said so many hateful and divisive things can turn it around and become a voice for inclusion and tolerance then I have hope for our nation. You voted for policy. You voted for change. I have to believe you didn't vote for hate. But maybe if he has a real change of heart, his most deplorable supporters will follow him into the light. I am ever the optimist, and I am going to send out good vibes into the universe for him to bring about the positive changes you voted for while uniting us as a country.

To my sisters who are afraid. You are heartbroken for your daughters. I feel for you so deeply. But take hope. We are stronger than we appear. We are braver than you think. We will keep climbing. We will keep fighting. YOU are the leader of her world. Not the president. Use this election to talk about the qualities you want to instill in your daughter. Don't let her see you defeated. Stand strong. You have the real power.

Sunshine turned her earrings as she looked through the rain drops out the car window this morning. I hugged her, kissed her head and she grabbed her pink sparkly bag. As she walked into school I read the words on the back.

Girls Can Change The World.

Be the change today Girls. Chin up and be the change.