Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment,
toughness, heart, talent, guts.
That’s what little girls are made of.– Bethany Hamilton, Soul Surfer
For almost twenty years, I have worked in an all girls school. Every morning I wake up, get dressed, drive to work, grab a cup of coffee on the way, and arrive at school. When I walk down the corridors, I am greeted by a variety of girls, ages three to eleven. They wear colorful leggings, light-up sneakers, unicorn headbands, wild curls and long twisted braids. They come in all shapes, shades, and sizes. And they are the hope we need in this world, especially right now. These girls dance, make marble mazes out of masking tape and construction paper, solve fraction problems, and write poetry. These girls paint with bright splashy colors, read graphic novels, make oozy green slime that sparkles, and sing like angels. They are creative, curious, and athletic. They are cheerful and face the world unafraid. They will try anything and laugh while doing it. They are the reason I come to school each and every morning.
Today I celebrate girls. Back when I was a little girl, girls were supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice.” I didn’t always fit that description. I was always on the move, both in mind and body. I did not sit still at all except when I was reading or writing. Then my mind would wander off into amazing places. A few years ago, I came across a book of poetry, A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Nye. It is a wonderful collection of poems that captures the essence of being a girl. I love this collection and often share the poems with my students. I was so inspired by Ms. Nye’s work that I thought I’d try my hand at some poems about girlhood. I started to put together a small collection called – What Girls are Made of. Here is a selection.
Blue Mohair It’s funny how a piece of clothing Can hold a memory - My blue mohair sweater With large, shiny blue buttons, A hand-me-down from my sister - So fuzzy and soft, the shade of blue I imagine Heaven to be. That mohair sweater I wore when I was ten, The day my father brought me To the ASPCA, Bought me a seven dollar dog - A little black and white terrier with a curly tail, I’d yearned for - for years! The look of surprise on my mother’s face When I came home with my new puppy Nestled in my arms, His wet nose peeking out from that Warm mohair sweater - Surely I was in dog heaven. Babysitter’s Blues When Barbara, our babysitter, comes We are so happy, She plays with us and NEVER tires, She makes us spaghetti With tiny meatballs And let’s us have An extra cookie. Tonight we play Go Fish, Old Maid, And Hangman, She brings art supplies: Paper and bright blue ink She says we have to Be CAREFUL, We dip our brushes in Gently paint the paper. I am so ecstatic The blue glides Across the paper: Blue sky, Blue snow, Blue house, Blue trees, My excited hand Knocks the bottle over Soon there is a Blue puddle Blue pond Blue lake Blue river Blue waterfall FLOWING Down the table Onto the white carpet. Barbara dives For napkins, sponges, Paper towels, My sister and I Blot the table Toss our blue worlds Into the trash We scrub the table And chairs until There is no trace of blue We look at Barbara Blotting the blue pool That remains on the carpet It gets lighter and lighter But will never be white again. I cry blue tears, And so does my sister, And so does Barbara. Oh woe is me - For woefully Mom will soon Be home to hear and see, Our babysitter’s blues. Sleepless Summer sleepover Eight girls crammed Into a camper Parked in Kathy’s backyard So we won’t disturb Her neighbors, her parents, Her baby brother. The camper rocks with excitement As we roll out our sleeping bags And claim our spaces We crowd around The tine kitchen table Filled with chips, dips, pretzels, Salsa, soda, and candy. Crunching and slurping Talking and laughing Telling scary stories Playing Truth or Dare Dare you to run around The outside of the camper Alone at midnight Flashlights cast an eerie light Making our faces ominous. I step bravely outside alone In my pajamas and bare feet, Run around the camper panting Inside girls are giggling The neighbor’s dog growls From behind the hedge I let out a blood-curdling scream, Seven girls inside shrieking Lights come on! Neighbors waking, Parents yelling, It’s late, go to sleep! We finally quiet down, Huddled together, Whispering for hours, Never sleeping.