Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Acquainted

It's no surprise that transplanting ourselves for the next two years involves a lot of getting acquainted. But I gotta tell you that remembering names and making it from polite 'Hello' to 'Could I give you my phone number?' takes more concentration with a 16 month old and 3.5 year old in tow than memorizing 125 new students' names by the third day did when teaching. The bar has been raised.

It's no surprise, since most adults have been in this mode since middle school, that humans gravitate towards those who are like us. The teen movie industry thrives on 'group's: case in point, Glee, or The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Evaluating other parents in a playground setting, with rambunctious kids can be hard, but mostly easy. How? Off-the-cuff, I'm usually my true self -- aren't you?

This picture shows one outfit that generates comments at parks: a large neon orange hair bow and matching shirt. Ignore the apron; it's just for drips ;-) What if the comments were different? What would one say to a little girl??

Snack habit: popsicles
and Abigail's eye-catching bow

How to Talk to Little Girls suggests that for many of us -- women and men, moms and dads, teens, and anyone who could influence a little girl -- we need to reframe our conversations. Amen.

I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!” 
But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are...

Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain.

Forest Park, view from the World's Fair Pavilion
As the wife of a seminary student, since our family has made the intentional choice of living off-campus to rub shoulders with all people in our town and neighborhood, I feel compelled to intentionally find those who are different than our family. People like Daniel, who dances and is Unitarian-Universalist, and whose son gets along well with my daughter. People like Josiah, who teaches law as an adjunct prof and is a Reformed Jewish rabbi, and whose wife has given us so much good preschool information. And then, I try to listen hard, ask good questions, and give away my phone number freely. Maybe we are here, in this place now, to talk well to little girls and little boys with whom our lives intersect. Even if they aren't just like us.


  1. Your kids are the cutest!!!

    PS. I also read that article about How To Talk To Little Girls and it really made me think about how I will want to approach things someday. How different would women's lives be if the vanity was removed? (Not that it could ever be completely gone!)

  2. Love your post. Though I miss all of you terribly your family is truly blessed to have met some incredible/diverse people. An opportunity to become immersed to different viewpoints and perspectives. Looking forward to future posts. Love you. Grandma Pat