tough girls

Tough girls are the girls who fall down and stand up,

quickly brushing off their bare knees, tights, or pants.

Pink or green, frills and pearls, denim or black corduroy.

It’s largely in the speed

of getting up,



Girls and boys both notice this.

“She’s so tough”, my kt will say of a friend or passing by girl.

She didn’t even cry, or look how fast she stopped.

These are girls to admire.


It’s the art of falling, the grace in a good crash, & the salve of a cool Band-aide.

It’s showing them race cars, ballet stars, the wheels of a Tonka,

inline skates, ice blades, the spin of Baryshnikov,

paired with the sometimes inevitable scars.

It’s getting down to get up,

and the fun of dirt under your nails.

And for these girls,

the promise of a manicure the next day.


And when our friend, in her mostly white outfit, fell down hard on loose dirt,

the kind that flies up, making a dirt cloud,

that rich brown powder was everywhere. There were plumes of it.

She got up, glanced down, surveying her body in less than a second,

and announced, “Well, I’m not bleeding!”

So pleased.

All smiles. All fun and fine.

This is what it is to play.

I really was amazed, though I shouldn’t be, right?

(Is it that I expect such toughness more from boys? Is that really the root?)

Her scrapes and pink puffy elbows could have alerted her to fear or at least be dismayed.

I know I would have given in to a tantrum. To frowns, to a “Man! This always happens when I wear white!” tirade.

She could have cried about her now spoiled, soiled, looking like a detergent commercial skirt and top.

But nope. While her new friends, the boys at the park, looked on, she was up with her smile,

running hard in those Champion brand sneaks & lace skirt whipping in the wind.

“Try and catch me!”

I see my girl take note, see how admiration shows up in her voice, big and tall.


Maybe five minutes later, it was my daughter who bit it hard

on the concrete jogging path

that snaked through the park,

turning under trees.

I saw impact, heard a “Whoooomp”

of her slender hands smacking down, holding her up from a harder, more elaborate fall involving her head.

It was such a land, I was surprised that her palms didn’t have blood

or small stones sticking to deep cuts or

at least a concrete burn.

Her knees were not as lucky.

Pink tights with holes at the knees.

A long pause as she reacted and poured out tears.

But just for a second. Then running. Laughing.

who cares about the tights

when you can be a tough girl, too?


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