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?


The Glamour of Layers of Ruffles


Princess Panties

Here it is,

been building

laying stable,

over a moving table of sparkling,

shimmering kira-kira



At least, this is the way I tend to view

the rapture of everything-ruffles, Disney-don’t even-show-her-Barbies-please-no

towards my three year old girl

now very very interested in, acting out princesses,

shopping for fancy dresses,

earnestly wanting that set with the two pairs of heels.


Just stop there.

Her little growing strong back potentially compromised by heels?

Heck, no.


Sometimes it seems a threat,

these princesses finding our house,

wanting to come in.

First it’s a friendly knock,

but repeatedly,

they ding-dong, ping-pong,

to play with my girl.


This is the input that makes her

wanna be glamorous everyday,


she wants to put on makeup,

be Cinderella–

a pretty, little, gorgeous thing.


Can you tell

I’ve been a bit tense about it?


Her 1st time in the Disney store. Changed somehow.

Those Disney girls pushing catalogs for

the same costumes everybody wears, made in great giant batches of pink

for millions of girls,

which prompt them to ask, “Am I pretty?”

Then, “Pretty enough?”


This is the sugar-plum hair net

which shapes their thoughts

and culls their own creativity, perhaps–

to potentially stifle

the idea that she can imagine a different Cinderella dress–

that it doesn’t necessarily have to be light blue with puffy sleeves,

the lovely understanding

that women come resplendent in many many

ways, shapes, legs, tummies

not simply Disney’s or “the highway”.


Now there are

new mentions at ladies’ weight and haircolor.


Now she notices overeating and thinks about, points out


She says if she eats too much she will get a tummy ache;

but one time she switched “tummy ache” for “FAT”.


Raising a little hun,

praising her heart and mind and body

while balancing princesses

and the story, her own story of creation

sometimes yields

a lithe, excited three year old, chanting

praise to God…

for making her a princess…


And then there’s the possibility that humility

can be zapped.

The good, real stuff snatched.

A three year old wanting to be twenty-two

like “that”.


The clip-ons can hurt a bit, but she wants ’em…& then asks us to pull them off.

I’ve been trying to avoid

this thing




turns out princesses are quite nice

and this one

even wore her earrings, crown, light-up amethyst necklace to build.

Not pour over a mirror,

not act-out a commercial,

but build.


So I think, perhaps,

her footing,

her luminescent glass slipper may still be

on solid ground,