Monday, April 25, 2005

Cheeky Monkey

I took little Miss Blondie to a baseball game. She was dying of boredom until she realized there was a prize to be gained: a baseball from one of the men warming up in the bullpen. Never mind that it was the team playing against the team which had given her a free ticket for reading so many thousands of minutes. She had a goal: cute guys with something she wanted. She's eight. I didn't know whether to be proud or embarrassed as she held her tiny glove over the barrier and yelled for the pitchers and catchers to give her a ball PLEASE!!! Such stick-to-it-iveness, such feminine wiles, such audacity. She did not give up even though they ignored her and the fifty other kids who followed her lead and began chanting for a ball. But blonde girls always win (at least they did when I was a mousy-brown haired girl), and the catcher gave her a smile and--the coveted prize--a ball. With profuse thanks, she held her trophy high and beamed with pure joy. I couldn't be sad for all those brown-haired boys and girls who didn't win because she's my daughter, so I felt like I won, too. Once the ball was in hand, she was determined to have it signed by EVERY single member of the opposing team. Her defection was complete. Indulgent parent that I am, I let her. It was a nice day, there were no male-gendered family members chomping at the bit to race everyone else home. We stood outside the locker room door, and she and her little blonde cohort caught each one of the players leaving and reeled them in. They were glad to sign; fans of any age are nice. It didn't hurt that they were breezy little blonde girls who didn't care that the team had lost. Goal achieved, ball signed, last car out of the parking lot. We headed home filled with the joy of conquest. As her father and I debriefed the day, we shared concern that she is too preoccupied with beauty and getting what she wants. But there are two sides to that coin. I don't think I ever had the guts to do what she did. To risk humiliation or disappointment because I wanted something so single-mindedly. At least I don't remember it. Maybe she didn't win because she was cute or loud, maybe she got the ball because she was tenacious. Probably a combination of the three. I guess my job is to help her take that quality I lack and use it for good and not evil. We have a friend who, in addition to being blonde and beautiful, is good. Her name is always trotted out in these conversations about beauty and character--WWCD? She is a model my cheeky monkey would do well to follow; she is tenacious about all the things that matter in body, mind and spirit. If my girl grows up to be even a little like our dear friend, she will be successful. As for beauty, I am attracted to it too. I admit to thinking the same thoughts about the pitcher from whom she was trying to win the ball. She came by her love of beauty honestly. It's part of who we are, and our challenge is to love beauty in all its forms, not just physical (especially male). To worship the One who gave us the beauty not the beauty itself. My cheerful one is who she is, though, and I'm proud of her for being more than I am. I'm charmed because she's beautiful, not just in her face and body, but in her joy at life, her doggedness, and most of all, her chutzpah.

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