The day my daughter was born, I immediately became a feminist.Before then, I had only a vague understanding of the word but had not taken a single moment to self-examine and realize how many of my day-to-day choices, experiences and opinions had been shaped by the decisions of men. As I looked into her beautiful little face, I was shocked at how quickly my brain said to her brain “Life is going to be hard for you,” a sentiment I never once thought when my boys were little. Thankfully my next thought was “Bullshit. We’ll be fighting that.”
A few years later, I read an article in the Washington Post that I mentally added to my bucket list of girl realities that my daughter and I were going to fight. The title of the article, “Want to raise an empowered girl? Then let her be funny.” It shares the story of multiple girls and women who all in different ways were told the message, “Being funny is not appropriate for girls.”
Thankfully the article, and my brain, both called “Bullshit.” And thankfully, that was not my childhood, nor the message my father sent.
I can clearly remember the day I learned my Dad was hilarious. My Dad, my brother and I were grocery shopping, one weeknight evening as my mother attended school. On this bright summer day, my Dad descended out of the grocery store with my brother and I in the cart, and us surrounded by groceries. The store oddly sat on the top of a slope and as we exited, 3 cans of apple juice, that had been placed in a bag on the base of the cart, rolled out and escaped in 3 opposing directions.
I knew in that moment that my Dad had some options in how he could react. He could blame the packing clerk for putting a circular item, on its side, in a place with no sides to stop it’s trajectory. He could blame the architect and builder for placing a grocery store on the top of a hill. He could also just swear and claim the apple juice was now the property of the parking lot and walk away.
But instead, he parked my brother and I in a safe spot and proceeded to scream like a crazed little old lady, waiving his arms, and chased after the apples juices like he was a farmer chasing after his wayward pigs.
My brother and I laughed with delight at the scene.
Since that time and the many times after, my Dad has encouraged me to respond to life with the same sense of humour. It has landed me some of the best friends and even jobs in comedy. It has got me through some of the worst parts of my life and held hands with my resiliency as it learned how to grow.
So yes. As my daughter decides it is hilarious to copy my actions through every inch of lunch, or laughs with glee as she knows she’s being a stinker for making me chase her in a store, I will never, ever, tell her that’s not what girls do.
I will encourage her to be just as funny as her brothers. Raising a household of fools will be a privilege.