Posts Tagged ‘girls’

A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

Friday, January 27th, 2017

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.

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For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.

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Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.

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A Girl and a Goat from Gaonli

Friday, January 16th, 2015

When I was four years old, a missionary from India came to my Sunday school class. I don’t remember her name, just her sari. I had never seen one before and I was captivated.

She told us stories of the faraway land of India, of monkeys and camels and elephants, of the crowded slums of Mumbai and a woman named Ramabai Mukti who founded an orphanage and school for unwanted children.

It was a lot for a four year old to digest, but the woman and her stories made a huge impression on me. For years I was obsessed with India. I studied the country, its culture and history. I read alot about Ghandi. I asked my mom to take me to Devon Avenue in Chicago, where I purchased a sari of my own.

From the time I was 4 until I turned 16, I told everyone I met that I was going to be a missionary to India. As a religious kid in the Midwest, that seemed the best option to me for visiting this exotic land. Certainly my family would never have the money it took to travel to a place like that–we went to Indiana on family vacations.

And besides, I wanted to help. Even as a really young kid, I was struck by the idea that somewhere across the world, there was a girl like me.

But while I was born into a family who loved me unconditionally and encouraged me to follow my dreams, whatever they might be, this girl was born into a culture where she had no worth, no value, and no options. It seemed like a very random assignation of destiny to me. Why me? Why her?

 

As I got older, simple answers like, “Because it’s the will of God” didn’t work anymore. And although I renounced my future career as a missionary in my mid-teens, my fascination with India remained.

And finally, 37 years after I first heard of India, I set foot on its soil.

Last November I traveled to Jaipur with Tea Collection. My colleagues were there to shoot an editorial catalog for our Spring 15 collection, which is inspired by the beauty and culture of India. I was there as the storyteller, to record the sights and sounds and smells of our visit. To take notes on what it felt like to be there. To observe, to ask questions, to internalize the experience so that later I could make it real for readers who hadn’t come along on our journey.

But I had a second purpose. Tea Collection partners with the Global Fund for Children, and I and my coworker Jessie were to spend a day visiting a GFC grantee in Jaipur, an Indian-run nonprofit called Gram Bharati Samiti.

The day we spent in rural villages with Bhawani, Kusum and Sarita was the best day of my whole trip to India.

Better, even, than my birthday two days later when I was surprised with a chocolate cake and a gorgeous photo taken by our photographer Hideaki Hamada.

The people I met that day, the staff of Gram Bharati Samiti and the girls and women in the villages we visited–their faces will stay with me for the rest of my life.


I wrote a blog about my experience for Tea–you can read it here, and please do. You’ll find all about a 6-year-old girl named Buja and the amazing gift (baby goat!!) I was given by another girl named Rekha. It’s the best story, really it is.

 
Hardly a day has gone by since I came back without me thinking of those girls, those villages.

Someday I’m going back. I’m going back and I’m taking Bruce and Lucette with me.
We’ll ride elephants and tour palaces and go back to Gaonli village to see if Buja’s still there.

And then we’ll hop on a plane and head south to Mumbai. I want to see where it all began for me, I want to visit Ramabai Mukti.

 

 

 

-Lo, who can’t believe 2014 went by without one. single. word.

 

 

Sugar and Spice

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

mood: ebullient | drinking: water
bean_shoes1

…and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. So they say.

(Although I remember being a little girl and I wasn’t always sugar and spice. There might have been a puppy dog tail or two thrown into my recipe.)

From the moment that plus sign appears, you find yourself wondering who this new creature will turn out to be. And “Boy or Girl?” is right up there at the top of the list of questions. It’s certainly the thing people most want to know, right after they ask you when you’re due.

Finally, we have an answer. The Bean is a bean-ette.

I made the ultrasound technician check, twice, to be sure there were no beans and frank hiding anywhere. She was quite positive in her diagnosis, though. “No suprises,” she assured me, “It’s definitely a girl.”

This whole time, I’ve tried very hard not to want a girl over a boy. Because what if Bean turned out to be sporting a penis, and then later he found out that his mum actually wanted him to be a girl? That would suck.

But let’s be honest. I’ve been stashing away girl stuff for a very long time now, just in case. I really, really wanted to have a daughter. bean_dress

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bean will turn out to be the kind of girl who will even be interested in the trinkets and goodies I’ve been saving for her. But maybe, someday is good enough to go on for now.

The day before the big reveal, I wrote this poem to capture how I felt before I knew the answer to the gender question. I hope someday Bean will like this, too…

Heirloom Tomato
(week 19)

Wishful thinking will not change
the tint of your eyes
the grain of your hair
the Xs or Ys of chromosomes.

You already are whoever
you are going to be.

In a windowless room at the office
I lay on the graying carpet
and let a woman string a ring
on a strand of my hair.
She held it motionless
above the mound of belly
where you swim.

If it swung in a circle,
you would be a girl.
Perpendicular, a boy.

In my impatience to meet you
I have imagined a whole wardrobe
of bright cotton dresses. I have drawn up lists
of names. (The page for girls is longer.)

Your aunt has entered birth dates
into gender calculators,
all of which predicted
you will be my daughter.

But today the ring swung
in a line, not a circle.

I want you to know, now,
before we inspect you
with sound waves,
that you are loved
exactly as you are.

-Lo, amazed.