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How to Raise Good Daughters

Images: Serge Bielanko Private

Image: Serge Bielanko Private

I am stunned, watching all these women who love Trump. At times over the last year or so, I’d be surfing around reading stuff and come across some photo of Trump Ladies at the latest rally and it never made sense to me.

It still doesn’t.

It never will.

I’m raising a young daughter in 21st Century America.

We’ve just elected a guy who talks of grabbing women by the p*ssy.

How could a woman vote for him? For a man who said that?

I don’t understand.

I look at my 7-year-old little girl and I have to ask you, point blank, to your reading face.

What the f*ck were you thinking?

To gaze deeply into your own daughter’s eye, to really truly love her, to seriously push your own battle-worn eyeball into the depths of her young fresh soul, and to want her to be okay in this world, you have to ask yourself a very fundamental question, I guess.

“What is the one thing, darling, that I want for you in this life?”

Try that.

Well.

What is it?

What is the thing, the thing you want her to have most?

To feel included is probably too much of a pipe dream for this world. The love we may know at home if we’re lucky, if our parents- or parent as it often goes- drenched us in love and compassion and respect, that inclusion only goes so far. But by the time we hit the second grade, or maybe the third, the cliques start to form.

God, no one probably realizes that more than little girls either, huh? For all of their motherly instincts, for all of their tenderness and soft-sidedness brought down through the ages, for all of the predisposed notions of tiny hearts beating to a gentler drum, little girls are often the first ones in this world to be blind-sided by the up and coming wrath of other little girls.

It’s a cruel, cruel world.

At some point, on some given afternoon when you’re still so young and alive, still so happy and carefree, that dream of feeling included shatters in your face like a bad wreck windshield coming down all around you. The exclusion always finds you. Others always want to knock you down. There you were, just sitting there in the backseat singing along to the radio, minding your own business, thinking about what you wanted for Christmas and chewing your gum, and suddenly you’re upside down in the middle of the road.

It hurts like hell.

Me and Violet talk about Pókemon a lot. That’s her thing. She loves it so much right now and so I love it too. It took me a while to love it though. Sh*t, it took me a while to even understand what is going on in that particular world, but I hung in there. I listen to her wax on about it. I ask questions even when I don’t know what they mean. Any answer could work. I smile, tune in, try to think of a follow-up question.

I watch her come so alive then. Her Daddy giving a damn about Pokemon. It thrills her. It makes her happy. I love it.

And I know it’s the last fleeting moments of her life when she will still feel totally included in this world.

Little girls are going to look her in the eye and set her straight.

“F*ck, Pokemon,” they’ll say flatly. “That sh*t is so stupid.”

And her car will flip nine times off the edge of the road, catching fire thirty yards into a cornfield up my little girl’s mind.

Then she’ll come home crying, storm right past me, head up to her room to start hating Pokemon against her own free will. To break her own heart just so other people won’t have the chance to break it for her.

That destroys me.

“What is the one thing, darling, that I want for you in this life?”

I want you to understand, baby, that your heart is a weapon of mass destruction. And that life is a war. And that people will take undeniable pleasure in watching you squirm. Pretty soon, from every direction, people you don’t even hardly know will show up and start taking your hope from you, grabbing the natural joy right out of your hands and pushing it back in your face so that it fills your eyes and mouth and nose and you can’t even breathe.

Life is so scary.

And it’s easy to want to protect your heart by destroying other people’s hearts before they get to yours.

For you, all I want, all I beseech the universe to grant you, is the divine ability to move through this gauntlet of hurt and pain with a heart that, somehow, against every odd in the book, remains true to the heart it was born as. I want for you that you might never ever let go of the kindness you were born with. The compassion that every little girl feels for other people around them when they’re so young, before the windshield shatters, I want that for you forever.

I don’t really wish for you to have a ton of jobs available as you get older. Or to have a Glock. Or to live between walls that keep other people out. I just don’t. I don’t think about those things as important to life. When I think of life, I try to lift all of these layers from it, to remove the nation state and the flag and the army and the church and the taxes and the laws and the rules and the popularity contests, so that if I clench my eyes hard enough, all I can see is you and me standing there , smiling at each other through a gauzy haze of what matters most.

Me and you, standing there, feeling love, feeling included, feeling alright about things despite everything else.

For you, I want you to remain open, at all times, to the notion that life is way bigger and more beautiful than so many people want you to know. And that the more you walk away from exclusion and hate and inequality, and that the more you never let your disappointment in the way things pan out to stoke the coals of blame and cruelty, the more perfect your life will be.

Kid.

I promise you this.

Keep your heart young. Hurl love in the face of hate.

You will be richer than a million Trumps.

You will be super employed all of our days.

You will live between regenerating walls that crumble every time you even glance at them.

And you will fire guns that shoot progress straight into the sky, piercing the clouds, sunlight forever raining down on every little girl crying on the school bus at the end of a long, hard day.

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