The most important job I have ever done was raising two children into fine responsible adults. I've done other jobs - some paid and some not - one of which includes 8 care giving years for my mom at the end of her life. But raising children well tops the jobs list because it impacts our future as a community, a nation and a world.
The raising of a grandchild carries that same level of importance, and when the grandchild is a girl - in today's world - there is one other point to consider. Women are on the rise in our culture - the struggles are real - equality is not yet a reality, and it will take strong smart women in the future to move a culture in the right direction.
When I was a second grade teacher, I really enjoyed watching the boys in my class. So open, inquisitive, natural, daring, and often challenging in their approach to their environment - even if they knew they were going to get into trouble! I loved it. On a rainy fall morning, as I watched the arriving children walking across the playground on their way to school, I spotted Terrence, one of my students. He was decked out in a bright yellow slicker that covered him from under his chin to well below his knees. Room for a growing boy - and it covered him completely. He had matching rain boots on and a matching broad brimmed yellow rain hat that tied under his chin. You could tell his mother made sure that this child of hers was going to arrive at school ... dry! But she underestimated the powers of a 6 year old boy. The playground had some low spots. Big puddles. He was drawn to those puddles like a magnet is drawn to the north pole. I'll give him credit. He stopped at the edge of a big puddle and looked at the water. His mind radiated the message ... I am going to be in big trouble for this! And then, with a big smile and much joy, jumped into that puddle stamping around until he was totally soaked. I remember smiling broadly with him. I remember the other students giving him a wide berth in the playground, and I remember the astounded look on his mother's face when she had to bring dry clothes to school later that morning. But in that moment he didn't care - puddles were meant to be stomped in. He was going to stomp, and stomp, and stomp. And he was willing to pay the price.
Every girl in my class arrived totally dry. :-)
That is the strongest memory of my 4 years of teaching second grade.
As a new teacher I wondered ... how much of this difference between boys and girls is due to nurture rather than nature. Now I strongly believe nurture is the stronger influence in how individuals approach all things in their environment. And now I am going to have a grand daughter. The stakes seem so much higher for her today than that day I watched Terrence make an educated decision and taking a free action. Nurture. That is what it is all about.
We are totally thrilled as a family for this cherished little girl. My first words to my son on learning the sex of his child was what I wanted for her. I want his daughter to be raised as a self confident, strong, intelligent, and fearless individual. We need more women in the world who aren't limited by their gender. I believe the time is ripe for raising these kind of female children ... especially in light of the current movement of women on the public stage!! And he agrees! My son is a black belt in martial arts, he is creative, self taught, self confident, not worried about wearing pink (another story for another time, ha!) and he picked a spouse who espouses exactly the kind of woman we should have more of in our world. He plans on raising his daughter in the style that will make her all of the things I want her to be! My son and his wife are perfect for raising a girl.
I am so proud of the son I raised. My daughter as well ... she is no slouch either. She agrees with us completely, but sees things through a slightly different lens ... "yes, mom, she can grow up to be ALL those things, while wearing pearls and lipstick." I guess as a family we have all the bases covered!!
I think of Terrance now and then. He would be about 54 years old today. He is forever frozen in my mind as that wonderfully free and inquisitive child - all in yellow. He, of course, will never know the influence he has had over my hopes for my grand daughter today. Dear grand daughter, find the same the same joy, freedom and adventure in life as Terrance ... starting with the puddles!