We were at a family Christmas party, and my uncles were chatting it up, discussing the births of their sons.
“It must be hard-wired into your brain,” one of them said, “Because when he came out and the doctor said it was a boy … it was just something like, Thank God!”
Of course I don’t remember the exact quote, but I do remember the sentiment and the look I got when they discovered me, as if they were both surprised and full of pity — pity that I might one day have a girl as a first-born and not know this apparent treasured feeling of relief. It was, indeed, a weird moment, but one that suddenly came out of nowhere when a doctor of my own, so many years later, said, “It’s a girl!” and presented me with this howling blue ghost.
There were a million emotions coursing through my veins, but pity or disappointment weren’t included. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had a daughter that there are days I want to yell with joy. I don’t want to turn this into a girls-are-better-than-boys type thing — everyone has their own opinion on the matter — but for me, having a girl, it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened.
Maybe some of this has to do with being raised in a house with three boys. All this talk of hair and clothes and nails and “my heart is so filled with love for you” — it’s a foreign thing, something I don’t remember from my youth. My brothers would have punched me in the teeth.
But now … every day is a reason to be filled with rainbows and imagination. But it’s more than that. There are many facets to us all, and while my daughter certainly has her bubbly side, there is a fierceness deep inside as well. I’ve never known a kid to get her hand stepped on by a horse and then get up and ride it. She works so hard and so long on projects that I often think, “Man, I wish I could do that.” She’s compassionate and extremely competitive. She’s dainty and unabashedly dirty. She contains multitudes, and I love every one of them.
Maybe having her back all to myself over the summer break has turned me into a sentimental blob, as I recall all the fun we used to have each and every day before school intervened and took her away from me for large parts of the day, but I can’t help thinking about all the ways having a girl has changed my life for the better. Here are just 11 reasons why she rocks.
Helps out like a pro 1 of 11Speaking of compassion, what do you do when you find a box full of abandoned puppies? Care for them like nobody's business. This girl has compassion written all over her.
Dances anywhere 2 of 11I love this. LOVE it. I have never been a dancing-in-public kind of guy, but I can't help it now that I have a daughter. I don't see a lot of boys dancing around -- it's very possible I just haven't noticed -- but having a girl has helped me throw all caution to the wind. Life is much more fun this way.
Rides like the wind 3 of 11She cannot only ride a horse, she can freaking get it to canter and then let go of the reins, steering that thing around with her legs. Say what? I'd fall off and die. Maybe the Seabiscuit riding silks help ... or maybe girls have no fear.
Falls like a champ 4 of 11So ... if you're going to go cantering around with no hands, you should probably expect to fall off at some point and have the horse mash your hand into the ground. Still, a first cast is a milestone and measure of pride.
Bets like a pro 5 of 11Then you can spend all your healing time going to the track and reading the betting guide, looking for any angle you can find. Official kid-sized jockey goggles probably help.
Bakes like June Cleaver 6 of 11When we're not sporting it up, we're crafting it up -- but this craft happens to be a lemon meringue pie. Seriously, could not have made this without her. The kid has mad baking skillz.
Adores the ice cream 7 of 11But who doesn't, right? What's better on kindergarten graduation day than a soft-serve strawberry cone? I'll tell you what: her own budding sense of fashion. Good God it's fun to dress a girl!
Makes her own fun 8 of 11So what do you do if you're bored? Hang around and mope? Or go invent your own game ... take a guess. The rules were a little sketchy and the game play seemed destined to let her win, but it still took half the day for her to conceive and modify. Score.
Will make you look stupid 9 of 11I have to admit to a measure of pride when I see parents telling their kids in the field to "scoot up" when my daughter comes to the plate. Do they not see the eyeblack? Don't let the pink helmet fool you -- she'll freaking hit that ball so far you'll be chasing it until Sunday. Let this be a lesson: Hit like a girl is an awesome term.
Swims to forever 10 of 11Just like you don't get into a land war in Asia or a game of chance with a Sicillian when death is on the line ... don't get into a swimming race with a determined girl because just when you think you've won, you look around and see she's already in front of you.
Saves her own damn castle 11 of 11"I'm the princess and this is my castle," she says, and I have momentary images of pink chiffon and taffeta tea parties. Then I suddenly remember who I'm dealing with: "So don't come any closer or I'll burn you with hot lead."
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!
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