When I Was A Girl, I Had a Favorite Story….

Yesterday was “Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work” day, and my office participated with a vengeance*. There were six hours of back-to-back activities planned, stocked with every snack under the sun. As the newest administration team member, I was the first pick for second in command of said activities. I don’t dislike kids, but they make me nervous in large, unknown groups.

To my surprise, the children were lovely. It was a smart, polite, little bunch, a delight to be around. There was one girl, Mary, whose wit and intelligence I particularly enjoyed.

The theme of the day was “Follow Your Dreams”, we started the day creating dream boards. The emphasis was on career, goals, and the world at large. I spent this time running around, using safety scissors and Elmer’s glue and helping one little boy make a super hero dream board (so, so cute), and generally inspiring good will.

Mary was the first to present. Her board was covered in fierce eye shadows, fluffy dresses, and engagement rings. Though I am a huge fan of all of these things, I was really bothered that this smart young girl didn’t want to talk about her hobbies or dream jobs, only about looking good and finding love. At seven, I wouldn’t expect her to have a twenty year plan, but I wanted to hear at least one dream not totally dependent on aesthetic virtues. Especially on a day designed solely to inspire career aspirations.

I worry about Mary because I feel like she’s being set up for a life of disappointment. Though she is a beautiful and smart young girl, she’s bombarded by increasingly impossible physical ideals and is setting goals dependent entirely on other people. True, she’s only seven, but seven is old enough to know one’s own mind. I still want basically the same things I did when I was seven: to be an actor, to have friends, nice things, a husband, and a family (talk about smashing through the glass ceiling).

I’m projecting; I still have a cock-eyed musical theatre nerd’s optimistic view of life and love, despite everything written in the past hundred or so blog entries. I hate to see another girl be let down that real life is not an endlessly glamorous Disney movie cum romantic comedy. That let down will be even harder if it isn’t cushioned by drive towards goals all her own.

*Incidentally, when I went to work with my mom, back when it was just “Take Your Daughter to Work” day, I think I had to just sit quietly in a chair and watch her do her job. More informative, not as fun.


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