“So what do you want to be when you grow up?”
I watch my 7 year old daughter begin to grin as she answers the question and I begin to cringe knowing the answer.
“I want to be a real cowgirl.”
Here it comes…the dirty looks from the other soccer mom. The look that tells me that I am a horrible mom for not telling my daughter that she should be a doctor, a teacher or the next President.
“…and I want my own horses. I’ll have cool boots and a pistol just like my mom.”
That last sentence just put the nails in our coffin. I have no doubt before the next shift change at the local coffee shop everyone will know about my daughter and me. We will be on the soccer mom watch dog list. There will be whispers in the school counselor’s ears to keep an eye on my “pistol whipping cowgirl.” There will be no sleepovers with her friends, because heaven forbid they jump on my horse and go tearing into the town with bandanas on their face and rob the local bank.
On top of all that, she is already planning her Halloween costume. A real cowgirl costume. Want to take bets on if the costumes this year will come complete with the fake leather holster and plastic molded pistols? Of course they will still be able to dress like hookers, murderers and politicians.
She gets it from me.
When I was growing up I had a LEO for a dad that reeked Texan. I faithfully watched shows like “The Rifleman,” “Bonanza” and “The Lone Ranger.” John Wayne was my idol and I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up. Our perceptions of gun wielding back then had not yet been perverted. The good guys and the bad guys had guns, but the good guys only pulled theirs out to stop a bad guy when an innocent life was in danger. They protected themselves, their families and never wanted to use that 6 shooter on their hip.
I spent hours outside pretending I was riding my faithful steed and talked my neighbor into being the bad guy so I could twirl my twigs shaped like pistols, save the day and ride into the sunset. I roped my doggies and prevented gold theft from the stagecoach that was my dad’s parked truck.
It was back in the days that the good guys wore white Stetsons, carried guns and won.
Now I watch my daughter helping me brush the horse and know that she will never get to be that cowgirl with no prejudice. She will not get to talk about how she wants to ride off in the sunset. She will be suspended if she ever twirls a twig gun on the playground. If she “sees” bank robbers approaching a “stagecoach” she will be targeted as a threat to her other friends. She can’t draw pictures of her dreams in school because the good guys are now the bad guys.
There can not be anymore cowgirls in this world. We have to hang up our pistol belts and go off into the sunset. We are no longer welcome in our strength to protect the innocent and save the day.
I have to explain to my daughter that she needs to pack away her boots and embrace being something that is tolerated in society. Something not so strong, something more conformed, and something that doesn’t challenge authority no matter the innocent that could be harmed.