Today, camp came to a bittersweet end. Each year, the last day of camp marks the end of a nature escape but the beginning of a new semester of growth and engagement.
As the campers were leaving, one of their little sisters came along to pick her up. She’s only four years old and her name is Amy. She is my stranger of the day.
She was wearing a pink sweater and spiderman shoes. My colleague/friend and I were talking to her, our voices uncontrollably an octave higher in the presence of her adorableness.
“She so cute”, we both said to her older sister
“I love your shoes”, I said to Amy.
“I love your sweater”, said my colleague.
Then I remembered an article I had read a while ago, called “How to Talk to Little Girls”.
Our first reaction when we meet little girls is usually, for no secret reason, to tell them how adorable they are. Because they are so ridiculously adorable and it’s hard not to announce it to them. But when little girls are raised with compliments based solely on their appearance, it’s no surprise they often grow up trying to live up to expectations on the premise of physical beauty, often leaving them feeling inadequate somehow.
Remembering this, I asked Amy if she enjoys reading, and I asked her what her favourite book was. She smiled an especially bright smile and thought for a while before having to leave.
I don’t know if this gesture made any kind of difference whatsoever. But I think it was a valuable effort nonetheless, and Amy looked really happy to be asked a question about her intellectual self.