My daughter, the girl

I’m not sure people outside the “homeschooling community” (such as it is) know that for many homeschoolers “socializing” has a pretty nasty connotation. Especially for girls, there are so many bad ways to acculturate, and if homeschooling mitigates that a little, so much the better. (Pro-Socializers, please read carefully: I said “mitigates a little,” not “hermetically seals children away from evil world.”)

But I didn’t mean to get all serious. What I wanted to share was a little giggle I had when looking at some of the photos I took during a fabulous outing to the Heritage Lab at the Wargo Nature Center with our homeschool group.

Here is Violet chatting with a friend:

And here is Violet chatting with another friend:

Sorry the photos are so large, but I wanted the difference I see to be visible.

Can you see it? Can you see the straight ahead look and smirk as she talks to the girl with the long blonde ponytail? Can you see the ducked chin, upturned eyes, and smile as she talks to the boy (who is, by the way, her height and no taller)?

I think this is a little bit of flirty-girl behavior! From my daughter!

The other side of this is that she spent most of the day hanging with the guys in the group rather than the tight-knit pack of girls her age (some of whom are her friends too). I think she likes their style of energy sometimes: a little more aggressive, a little more direct.

(I think it was Cher Mere who said that male friends have lower expectations. That was a new idea to me, but on reflection it made total sense. I adore the mom friends I have made in the last 8 years, but the expectations of these relationships are different. I still remember the shock I felt when a male friend told me that a friend was someone you had no obligations to! Sorry to generalize by gender — can you trust that I know the difference between casually generalizing on my blog and acknowledging the wide spectrum of differences among people in real life?)

I like that my girl can be both super-girly — though less and less so — and comfortable with a group of guys. I’ve always disliked the idea that “girly things” — pink, ponies, princesses, etc. — are yucky and cool girls are the ones who act more like the stereotype for guys. That hardly seems like feminist progress.

I want my girls to have a full spectrum. Violet is my “punk princess” (her new phrase/phase) with an epee, and Victoria is my “sturdy” (a word she and I like to use for her) ballerina. Do not denigrate our ballet slippers, tutus, fairies, or dress-up clothes, or they will open a pink and purple can of whoop-ass on you.

In fact here is Violet looking sweet as can be:

And here is a little sisterly love:



Filed under Schoolday Doings, Socialization, Why Homeschool?

11 responses to “My daughter, the girl

  1. They are gorgeous girls. And I always think that feminism is about the freedom to work out what kind of girl you want to be. Though I am still highly critical of modes of femininity that actually do bad things to your body and make it hard for you to look after yourself when necessary. (High stilletto heels, anyone?)

  2. Beautiful pictures.

    Z likes playing with the boys too. She is very athletic and (possibly because of homeschooling) totally comfortable doing things generally thought to be in the “boy” territory.

  3. Your girls are so beautiful. I had to lol – oh my goodness did I just write lol instead of laugh??! – at the photos you showed. I’m a hopeless fluffy girl, I think it’s sweet she likes a boy! Somehow I can appreciate how that would be good in a girl who seems so incredibly strong within herself. I don’t know if I’m making much sense there, though. Anyway, I can at least say that I prefer male friends. They are so much easier to talk to. And I agree, they have lower expectations – or they seem less caught up in personal politics, somehow. How’s that for a generalisation about both men and women? 😉

  4. They are darling.

    I have been enjoying your very thought provoking posts.

  5. Your girls are beautiful!

  6. Tell me I wasn’t that male friend.


  7. shaun

    You were the male friend. Sorry.
    I wondered if you would recall that conversation (which took place somewhere in Uptown Minneapolis in both of our pre-child days).
    Although by “shocked” I meant that I had never considered that idea before, not “appalled” or “revolted.”
    You can take it back now, if you want.

  8. Sahra loves all things pink and “girly,” including icky stuff like Bratz dolls. Her first purchase with her own money was a “My Little Pony” bowl that she eats Wheetabix out of every morning. She can be as pink as she wants. Barbies galore, as far as I’m concerned. She has feminist parents and a vivid, creative imagination. Plus she can break boards with her fist now. For real. She’s 7. She’ll be fine. She often says, of Betty and Veronica (her Favorite comic characters), “isn’t it silly that they keep fighting over a boy?” Yes. Yes it is.

    Where did I read that the vast majority of girls who own Barbies mutilate them, eventually, in some way – that the idea that girls see Barbie as a role model is, in practice, semi-preposterous? It assumes that girls play with toys only the ways that ads tell them to. Not likely, or not only, apparently.


  9. Have you made it clear how many of your closest friends are / have been male? How I used to joke that you hated women because you had no female friends in grad school?

    I can see my pre-child self saying something like that about friends. I still think that a real friend is someone you feel no obligations to – I think I have an aversion to “obligations” as a word. A friend is also someone you’d do virtually anything for, instinctively, with no thought to reciprocity. Which is to say a real friend is someone you really love. And trust. Someone you can just be yourself around without fear of judgment. Maybe girls/women judge each other, or feel they judge each other. Is girl culture more judgmental than guy culture? I don’t know. My friends have always been girls/women. Or gay men. Or the husbands of women friends. I think I made my first straight male friend (not thru a female friend) at the age of 35.

  10. shaun

    Hmm, somehow that has never come up. Thanks for clarifying. (And I did so have female friends, they just kept moving away!)

    But to answer you in brief, without opening Pandora’s box, yes, I think women tend to judge each other in more ways than men judge women. And the “mom friend” category often carries an expectation of being that “village” for raising your children — although maybe that is just a stay-at-home thing? I think that falls somewhere between “obligation” and “instinctively wanting to help out,” and the helping may not be out of love for the particular person, but loyalty to the “mom community” you’re in. So yeah, there are some expectations to meet in many of my friendships with women, although I don’t think that sullies the friendship.

    Anyone else care to add to that? My husband is one who has also had a lot of women friends.

    It may also depend on what you mean by judgment. I seem to have a knack for befriending what we might politely call highly analytical and observant people with a taste for correctness. (Perhaps I am such a person myself.) Such people may appear to the untrained eye to be judgmental or critical. I reserve judgment on this question.

  11. HA ha. Yes, “perhaps” you are such a person yourself.

    Maybe I have so few friends because I have a high (too high) bar for friendship. I like a lot of people fine, but I wouldn’t call them “friends” the way you are my friend. I think the ‘mom community’ thing must be particularly double-edged, in the sense that it must be great / necessary to have, and yet … yeah, the “village.” I wouldn’t want to share child-care things with anyone I didn’t Love. Which is why I’d Suck at doing what you’re doing.

    Daughter starts public school Monday. Socialization! She just got a new princess backpack. And a new “Betty & Veronica Digest.” Wish us luck.


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