A web site out there that tries to find the good in the world proposed that people try and write posts related to good they have seen in the world. Here is mine.
A few years ago, before the big new Star Wars craze came bringing girl power in its wake, I was the mother of a sweet six year old girl who still loved the franchise. She had seen enough of the original trilogy to know that she loved what it was all about, and she was anxious to display this love on her person. We were shopping for new fun shirts in Target one day, and while we were wandering around, a fantastic blue tee caught her eye. Daughter gets pretty focused on a single image, and in this case she saw one of Vader and Storm Troopers on a swing set, playing happily and amid pro Empire graffiti. It was a vintage inspired shirt and I was take by it as much as she was. The specific one that she saw was not in her size so I needed to root around a bit to find one just right for her. I knew where we were standing. I knew very well that we were in the “boy’s department” of the store. As she started to look around at the other amazing shirts, ones that were covered in the characters that she loved, like Perry the Platypus and Marvel superheroes instead of My Little Pony and the princesses (who are also the object of her affection), she realized it, too.
I honestly didn’t think much of it. I had bought her shirts from the boy’s section before, and she liked the fit and the feel of them. She never said a word about it. It turns out that it was just because she didn’t realize. Because right there, in the middle of the store, she started to panic. She did not have an ugly fit. She didn’t make others stop and stare. She simply looked up at me with heavy wet tears, breathing jagged shallow breaths and said, rather quietly, “Mom. I cannot get that shirt. It is only for boys.” I didn’t know what to say. I tried to tell her all about how I wore shirts made for boys all the time when I was younger and that lots of times they were much cooler, but she was just not having it. Explaining to her that the only reason I didn’t wear them now was because of my shape and that they won’t fit me wasn’t helping.
At the time of this conversation we were standing near the aisle of the store. A lovely woman with an equally lovely young lady of a daughter came by. They heard what Daughter had been saying to me, and they stopped to say hello. They decided to step in to see if they could help. The mother of the lovely daughter mentioned was a willowy woman with a delightfully sassy short haircut, which was already exciting to Daughter, as she has been rocking a pixie cut in a town of long haired kids for a while now. The daughter was equally as willowy with long curly hair who was wearing a very cool Bob Marley top. The sweet young lady wanted Daughter to know that she was wearing a shirt that she bought in the “boy” department of a store. “I like Bob Marley,” she said, “and I wanted to wear what I like!” Daughter was delighted. “Mom! She has a boy one, too!”
After some sweet conversation, we were able to confidently walk over to the register and purchase that outstandingly cool Star Wars shirt.
It’s a few years later now, and Daughter has come a long way. When we were in Disneyland she bought herself a “How to Draw Darth Vader” shirt that was clearly in the “boy” section of the store, but she had to have it because of how much it made her laugh. She’s still rocking her pixie cut and has been boy characters for Halloween the last four years in a row (in order: Labyrinth’s Goblin King, The Doctor, Harry Potter, and Sirius Black).
Not too long ago she casually told me while we were riding in the car that there is a by who lives inside of her along with her girl self. She said that sometimes she needs to let him out, and that is why she enjoys having short hair. I didn’t press her too much, but I did find out that she feels like a girl and a boy, not just a girl, and not just a boy. I was proud of her. She was given the ability to tell me this wonderful thing about herself, this amazing revelation for someone only almost 9, with confidence. And, you know what? The confidence came from buying that one shirt and the lovely people who told her it would really be ok. She will always be herself, thanks to those kind people and Darth Vader.