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An open letter to my daughter’s coach

We spend more on kid activities than we do on our mortgage. 

This is the point when I am supposed to either feel awesome about our $750 mortgage or shitty about the $800 or so we spend on sports, but (twist ending!) I’m about to feel neither. Instead, an open letter to my daughter’s coaches:

Dear Coach,

I cried when I found out I was going to have a daughter. Tears of joy because duh girls are awesome, and tears of despair because how the fuck are you supposed to raise a girl to be healthy and whole, strong and self-confident?

I know how to teach a kid to count, to match colors, to say their ABCs. I know how to teach them to be polite, to apologize when they’ve hurt somebody, to pick up their clothes from the living room floor (JUST KIDDING IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS I’M ALL EARS).

But how do you teach a girl to navigate this world, where even the dolls have unrealistic beauty standards, where women’s bodies are used to sell Dorito’s and cars, where there is a constant bombardment of “be pretty but not slutty, a ‘good girl’ but not a prude, smart but not a geek, thin but not gangly, and always put others’ needs in front of your own”?

And this is where you come in. Because of you, my daughter trusts her own body, and she uses her body for her purposes, to kick and swim and tumble and throw. She is so focused on reaching her own goals – being a part of her team – that she doesn’t have the time or the energy to put herself last. She learned from society that girls are to be timid, she learned from you that it’s okay to go after what she wants.

Because of you, she knows what it means to put in work to get rewards. She has learned, over and over again, that she can move mountains if she just does the work. She has learned, over and over again, that she’s going to fail, sometimes spectacularly fail, and the only appropriate response to failure is to learn lessons and get back to business. She has learned that the sum of a team is much higher than the sum of any individual parts. She has learned to be healthy and whole, strong and self-confident.

I’ve got three girls. I’ve got three strong, healthy, hard-working girls. They are certainly going to come up against awful situations in their lifetimes, but the training you’ve given them – sports training, I guess, but more importantly life training – is preparing them for anything that comes their way.

When I found out I was going to have girls, I didn’t know how I would possibly teach them life’s hardest and most important lessons. Of course I didn’t – I didn’t know about you.

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