Friday, 6 October 2017

I'm a bitch

“I wish you were never born into this family". Her words hung in the air, dense and stinging.

Little girls, daughters are positively delightful little things. They run about gaily, brightening up everything with their pretty little dresses and bunches in their hair. Riding on your knees and making up cute little sentences you can repeat to your friends. All of that is just as jolly as it should be. But a little daughter is one thing and a daughter is quite another thing.

When they were as little as 4, in Kindergarten, he’d sit himself down on the bench with the usual helpless lethargy while she would undo his shoes and help him un-suit from the coat and scarf paraphernalia. Nobody had taught her to do these things, or asked her to. These reserves of intuitive caring came entirely naturally and with complete commitment. Any amount of equal-gender upbringing was no match for natures hard wiring. Whoever said male and female ability differences boiled down to socialisation, not genetics, never observed it from the vantage point of bringing up girl and boy twins. The KG staff remained most amused at how one 4 year old little girl fussed around her twin brother.  

That same little girl, the adorable daughter, is now a 12 year old directing her scorn at that same brother she continues mothering. Growing into her life, one oestrogen loaded, high self-expectation at a time. Which also means it’s an on-going imbalance of boy and woman through their growing up. Well, despite his persistently lethargic disposition, he had had the audacity of brilliantly outdoing her at a Math test. Whilst surprised by his own achievement and scathing from her words, he is nevertheless a man in the making - enjoying his 5 minutes of fame like it were a lifetime of successes back to back.
Whereas for her, she’s on a roll. Perfect is her baseline, success is the norm. Anything right below that is looser-level failure. She’s accustomed to excelling in everything she embarks upon, by sheer grit and perseverance. Of course she was not angry at him, but at herself. It is how women are sometimes. Unfair and irrational. Angry at their own standards. At disappointing themselves, eternally envious of the infuriatingly chilled-out composure of their male company.
Some time will pass but she will come around, as she always does, inundated with shame for her behaviour and an even firmer resolve to work harder, apologising effusively for letting her frustrations get the better of her. He’ll graciously accept the apology, not quite recollecting what she's going on about, forgiving quickly and generously. She will 
be curiously surprised again, and relieved that he got over it so easily.

It’s endlessly entertaining and frustratingly inefficient that people straddled with the same genetic coding continue to repeat the same mistakes, re-learning the same lessons, generation upon generation (no wonder evolution runs at snail-pace). It’s similarly frustrating and also somewhat funny that whatever the year civilisation is in, boys and girls, men and women simply have different roles to play in life according to the different contributions they make to a shared reproductive system. This little girl, like many of her kind, will be the nurturer and the listener. She will, like her mother and grandmother before her, also be the one to tell the man to intuitively go to the doctor and nurturingly sort out the laundry. She will multi-task, so as to do both to perfection at the same time, not losing sight of her own personal ambitions, as well as booking her kids dental appointments and making a lasagne. All of this will, ever so often, churn up a storm in her.
Until recently, US meteorologists gave traditionally female names to storms, and hurricanes for the shared characteristics of being unpredictable and destructive. When the ‘Women’s Movement’ finally had their say and male names started being introduced, another bias took shape - people became less likely to prepare for hurricanes with women’s names, not taking them seriously because they don’t sound threatening in comparison to their male counterparts. This ironically made those storms more deadly.  

There is a subdued appreciation of the singular advantage of experience this 12 year old boy is being provided with, by living beside and loving strong women. Yes, he would be better equipped to understand them into adulthood, probably ahead of his peers. But excitement for such great fortune is limited while the scrapes still burned. He knows already of the perfect super human powers of emotional intelligence she is capable, of the heightened sense of self-awareness and punitive self-criticism. For reasons seemingly unfathomable, she will also rage with fury causing unpredictable destruction like the hurricanes she defamed. Discount her, and it could be similarly deadly. There will also always, always be those reserves of intuitive compassion. 

Borrowing from some of Shania Twain’s wisdom, she is a bitch and a child, and a mother. She is a sinner, a saint. Take her as she is, it might mean you will have to be stronger. Don’t be afraid, you know you wouldn’t want it any other way.

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