I remember sitting in our disclosure meeting and hearing the Squirrel’s social worker say, “We just want her to be raised by a couple of Go Girls!” The Squirrel was legally freed for adoption- none of her bio family members could care for her, so the social worker really did have the power to place her with the best forever family she could find. And she believed it was us. I remember feeling the weight of that. The responsibility. The gift.
So we hung a Go Girls! poster above our daughter’s bed before we even met her. The purple poster features each point of the Go Girls! Culture Code. What better way to share our family’s values? Squirrel liked the purple but phrases like “Make Mistakes”, “Give & Take”, and “Feel your Feelings” were way over her head. So, the poster didn’t mean much. She had t-shirts with the Go Girls! logo. A copy of my chapter book, “Starring Celia” on her bookshelf. She loved to play in our home office, writing pretend paychecks to our administrator Julie or organizing camp journals as they were delivered. But in her mind, my only job was to take care of her and Lynn sure spent a lot of time at the computer for some reason. Go Girls! Camp was an abstract concept that she didn’t seem very curious about.
Until June, when we brought her to the last half hour of our staff training. She watched 30 teaching artists perform original plays they created together and it blew her mind. When they started singing the Go Girls! song, she ran up on stage to join them even though she didn’t know the words. She was surrounded by real life Go Girls! and everybody was singing…
I am proud, so proud, so proud of me!
I’m exactly the kind of girl that I want to be.
I’m not a mean girl!
I’m not a good girl!
I am a Go Girl! Go Girl!
I still get tears in my eyes when I think about her absorbing that moment. She came home and sat in the bath for an hour and 45 minutes (Literally! I had to add hot water) and sang her own made up Go Girls! songs. I wrote down her lyrics from the next room as she sang:
I am a Go Girl! A pretty Go Girl!
I hate to be a bully anymore
I’m happy to be a Go Girl! today
I am myself
This is my voice
You have to listen to my song
The rule is no fighting- no fighting here!
I need you to hold my hand and give me directions
We are practicing, practicing, practicing
We are listening to the teacher
If I do what I am supposed to do, than I will see the world come underneath me
She was absolutely lit up. Something shifted in her brain that day. And she could not wait to go to Go Girls! Camp.
Soon enough, I found myself in line with other parents at the program I helped create. I watched her run inside and find her name written out at a table to decorate. I listened later that day when she told me all about the games she played, the character she chose for the play and all the artwork she created. She seemed so…relaxed. Herself. Safe. Not once did she seem this way when I picked her up from Kindergarten. We’re all still recovering from her first year of school and all the challenges she faced.
I guess the point is that my dreams are coming true over here. My whole life, all I ever wanted to do was create a space for girls where they could truly know they mattered. And I wanted to be a mom. Seeing the overlap between these two goals makes my heart just about burst. Helps me know I’m on the right track. And so is the Squirrel.
Last Friday, I got to go see my little girl perform in her first Go Girls! play. Her first play ever, for that matter. She chose to be a Queen, of course. I was in the front row…with flowers… as she took her place center stage. I witnessed the Squirrel embody the purple poster that still hangs above her bed. She shared her voice and we got to listen to her song.