We live in a world of stereotypes.
Some of us fight desperately to change it, but yet they stubbornly exist.
Black. White. Male. Female. Rich. Poor.
When you think of any of these words a picture comes to your mind. That picture is born out of stereotypes.
Now, I think that I have done a pretty good job in my life to not pigeonhole a person into a stereotype. I have even worked as a human rights activist for a time. I believe the Bible says that everybody is made purposefully and beautifully.
All that being said, I have a confession: when my nine-year-old girl who weighs about 10 pounds soaking wet came to me a year and a half ago and asked to play hockey I did not do her justice.
(Her at Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany)
Somewhere inside I decided that because she was a tall, thin, eight year old beautiful girl she wouldn’t have it in her to play hockey. You know, I don’t even think that I realized that I head completely stereotyped her!
I already knew she was good on skates. I already knew she loved to be on the ice. I didn’t give her enough opportunities to do it, and I remember joking with her about how she would need to eat steak everyday to beef up before she could play hockey. We joked on the outside while I secretly barred her from it – maybe even unknowingly – on the inside.
Maybe I was afraid for her. I’m still a little afraid that the boys and their parents would see her differently or make fun of her.
She kept asking. We even went to a NHL game for her birthday present in December.
Over Christmas break we went skating at every rink around. She was in her glory! She told me when I was lacing up her skates one day that she gets so excited to skate that her whole body shakes. The last rink we tried had posters plastered all over for hockey lessons. I swear, every person I spoke with that day was connected to youth hockey and raved about it.
Sometimes even in our ignorance things are so obvious that we can’t avoid it. This was one of those times. We signed her up for hockey that day.
Last night was her first lesson. She wore pink sweatpants under her hockey gear. Now, there were a few little boys that could skate circles around her but really, she held her own. She did great!
As I was sitting there watching her, I began to realize that maybe I was the one who needed to learn a lesson. As practice went on I became less nervous for her and more excited.
Her lesson was over and as I helped her take her skates off I asked her what she thought of it. This huge, glowing smile spread across her face like I hadn’t seen before. She said, “I loved it. It was SO fun! I even got to slide across the ice on my stomach!” After we got her skates off she ran around with some of the little boys for a little while and I sat there learning an old lesson in a new way.
Have I always been proud of my baby? Are you kidding? Absolutely! She is smart, funny, beautiful, and athletic. She has a kind heart and is a wonderful friend. She makes me proud 100 times every day.
But last night was a little different kind of pride. I realized that she taught me a life lesson.
I have said her whole life that she can do anything she wants, and you know what? She actually believed me. This kid is not going to let anything stand in between her and doing what she loves. She already knows she can break the mold and succeed – she has proven it.
Monday I bought us some groceries for this week. Last night and the night before I tried my hand at making some steak, so we ended up having it two nights in a row. As we were eating dinner before her lesson, her in half of her hockey gear already, she says to me, “Mom! You said I needed to eat steak every day so I could play hockey!”
Isn’t life funny that way?