Baby-Girl Tough

Recently, I overheard an interesting exchange between my daughter (age 5) and her slightly older friend (age 6).

The recording of this exchange, however, needs to be preceded by a little history. Lately, baby-girl’s been a bit frustrated with the fact that most people in her world are bigger, older and seemingly smarter than she is.

“Brothers can lift me and I can’t lift them,” she moans. Or she brings up the fact that most of her family and friends can read, but she can’t. And the list, if you let it, will go on and on.

So I sat her down one day, and told her that size and age have nothing to do with how mentally tough a person is. I’d like to tell you that I was speaking guided by the wisdom of the ages, after some time of careful reflection, prayer and maybe a brief yoga session.

I was not. Among other things, I don’t do yoga. Sorry. I have nothing against yoga. I’m just wildly immature about that sort of thing, so I doubt yoga and I will ever form a lasting union.

And, I have poor balance.

Anyway, I was just shooting from the hip, at least when I started talking. Fortunately, I read quite a bit, and I’ve done theater.

She frowned when I mentioned the idea of toughness, and protested, “But I can’t punch the house down. I bet Daddy could do that,” and then she hesitated a minute and said, “Well, he probably could, but I know I can’t.”

“Well, I certainly hope he can’t punch the house down, because then we’d really have problems,” I couldn’t help but comment. “But strength is different than toughness.”

She was clearly confused, so I attempted to explain the difference between physical strength and mental fortitude.

“Your toughness is up here,” I explained, pointing to her head, “and if you want it to, it’ll stay there regardless of your age or size. Believe me, I’m your mother, so I’ve seen firsthand how tough you can be.”

She was incredulous at first, but then I gave her some examples of the tough things she’s done. I mentioned all the times, beginning at age two, that she’s offered to go with me into a dark room so I “wouldn’t be afraid of the dark.” I reminded her of the time she got four splinters deeply embedded in her big toe, and despite how scared of the needle she was and how it hurt a little, she insisted I keep at it until all the splinters were removed.

She didn’t say much after that, so I really couldn’t determine if I had gotten anywhere with her. So that was that, until the exchange with her friend.

The two girls were debating, in a mostly friendly but mildly heated sort of way, over something that escapes me now. They went back and forth a few times.

“Well, I’m older, so I’m smarter,” her friend finally concluded.

I would have stopped in my tracks just to be sure I heard her response, had I had time. But literally, without missing a beat, baby-girl crossed her arms over her chest and said, “Yeah, but I’m tougher.”

I think my work here is done.

2 Replies to “Baby-Girl Tough”

  1. That’s some darn fine parenting right there. Absolutely brilliant retort by your baby-girl.

    1. I almost couldn’t have been more proud.

Leave a Reply