I remember the excitement I felt when my nephew was born. While my sister-in-law was pregnant, we had been told while my that he was going to be born with some pretty serious health issues, so the day he was born a healthy, happy baby boy with ten fingers and ten toes and seemingly, perfectly healthy, I couldn’t help but think we had been given a gift from the universe.
I promised myself that kid was going to know everything good in life. I wanted to share with him a love for things like Frank Sinatra, the smell of old books and the feeling you get when you walk in the rain. More than that, though, I wanted to share with him a desire. A desire for what he loved, for what he wanted, or for more. Always more. See, if I could teach my nephew just one thing, it would be that he never settle. He’s capable of so very much, and I say that in part being a biased Auntie and in part being an optimist who believes, with the right motivation, he can be whatever and whoever he wants to be in this life.
I remember the excitement I felt when my niece was born. I was over-the-moon at the prospect of a little girl gracing this family of boys that I’d been living in for so long. (The female gender is grossly underrepresented in my family) The day that I held her in my arms for the very first time, I remember thinking that I’d never seen anyone on earth more beautiful than she.
I promised myself that she was going to know everything good in life. I wanted to ensure that, as a girl growing up in a family filled with men, she was given every opportunity to be whomever she wanted to be – whether that girly and dainty, or rugged and strong (or all of the above). More than that though, I couldn’t help but think about how different her life was going to be from that of my nephew. See, if I could teach my niece just one thing, it would be that she seek to shatter glass ceilings and not fit into glass slippers. There’s no need to fit in to a world in which she’s born to stand out, stand up and create her own kind of incredible. She’s capable of so very much, and I say that in part being a biased Auntie and in part being an optimist who believes, with the right motivation, she can be whatever and whomever she wants to be in this life.
This year I’m soon to have another niece. I’m also going to have one more niece or nephew (we won’t know which until that baby is born, as my brother wishes to be surprised by the gender. I think it’s a girl. Cough. Totally a girl. Cough). My brother, Aaron, has asked me to write something for his baby-to-be. He said, if I could teach his soon-to-be little girl just one thing, what would I teach her? Honestly, I think if I could teach her anything it would be that she seek to shatter glass ceilings, not fit into glass slippers. I know that it’s cliche, but I stand by the statement.
Girls are raised differently than boys. We’re taught to be quiet, to not be too opinionated and to worry more about how we’re perceived on the outside than how we’re perceived on the inside. Boys are raised to be strong, opinionated and with the notion that the world is at their fingertips. It’s just a fact of life. I think if I could only give one thing to my nieces it would be that they know they’re strong, can be opinionated if they want to be and that the world is also at their fingertips.
I have no worries for my nephew. He’s growing up to be one hell-of-a kid. He’s articulate, intelligent, strong, loves sports and all the good music, he thinks it’s cool to dye his hair purple. He knows the world is his oyster. Presently he’s talking about wanting to be an astronaut and go to space when he grows up. And, if he still wants to in ten years, I have no doubt he will.
I worry about my niece, and my niece to be. While my niece is one hell-of-a kid, I can’t help but feel as though we’re sending the wrong message as a society when she tells me she’s not allowed to play hockey because it would make her too manly. How does an eight year old come to these conclusions? They’re taught to her. They’re taught to too many girls and I don’t think it’s right. In 2019 a girl should be able to be whomever she wants to be, and it’s time we start teaching that to the female gender.
And if, in time, she decides that the glass slipper is what she wants to wear, I’d be more than happy with that fact. So long as I know she’s not settling for it, and that it’s her choice, her desire and her dream.
The world is your oyster, my dear. All you have to do is believe.