Don’t Grow Up, Dear Daughter!

Don’t grow up. My dear daughter, don’t grow up. You’re only two but you are walking away. No, you’re running away. I have built an invisible protective wall around you. You don’t see it but I know it exists. You seem to grow right through the wall I built for you. Since the day you were born I have been losing the fight. The battle where your will towers my will. My will to protect you loses to your will to grow up and liberate yourself. I lose every single day. I live in fear every moment. A constant fear of the truth that my defeat can never be as fleeting as this precious moment we share.

As a father I am supposed to be a superhero who can fix any problem you have, including your tenacity to grow up. But I get humbled every time I try. Who emboldened you with that steadfastness? Mother Nature? I hate that pompous Mother Nature. Do you realize that the power that makes you run away and grow up will not protect you against the evil forces of this world? Oh, did I tell you about the evil forces of this world? You won’t listen but I will tell you anyway.

You are young, carefree, blissfully unaware and limited by absolutely nothing now. But do you know that people will start judging you soon just because you are a girl? Do you know that even strangers will tell you how to grow up to be a nice girl? Toy companies tell you to play with certain toys and dolls to become a caring and a loving girl. Apparel companies will secretly tell you not to wear certain colors of clothes because you may not look pretty, dainty and cute if you wore them. This gender bias that starts now will only amplify as you grow up. Your great-grandmothers and grandmothers succumbed to this bias and your mother and your aunts still fight it. This is why you have to pay attention when I beg you not to grow up. You don’t care but that won’t stop my rant.

Do you know that as a woman there are certain career choices you can’t make because some stranger thinks so? Do you understand that even if you, to sound clichéd, break the glass ceiling and choose a career path “meant for men”, you will be discriminated against? It is fair to ask what the alternative is. You could choose not to have a steady career or be a stay-at-home mom and choose to grow your family and take care of a household. You will still be judged. This time you will either be judged by feminists or by the same forces that told you to be independent. Do you know that, many a time in your life, you will come across things you cannot do, say or even wish just because you are a girl? It is hard to be a girl, dear daughter. More specifically, it is hard to grow up and be just you because you are a girl. Now is the time you can be you and nobody will say a thing. I wish that you made sense of my rhetoric and stop growing up.

You do not want to hold my hand. Where did you get that playful nonchalance from? I get that it is a completely normal thing to grow up. I just wish that I could freeze the frames of our lives and just pause time for a bit. But I can’t do so because I have no control over you, your will or your life. I confess my fear and accept my defeat but I also hope that, when you become a big girl, this world faces defeat in its fight against your will. I wish that you don’t let this world exert control, in no small amounts, over you. I dream that the same monstrous willpower you have now stays with you when someone discriminates against you or your girlfriends. I wish that you do not let anyone hold your hand unless you want them to. I also pray that your innate mental fortitude remains as firm as my fear and that your fears are as fleeting as the beautiful moments we share.