Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How can I get my daughter to say "Thank you. It's not for you." #BritishDadStuff



You know that you are a Great British Dad...
...when you have no idea what to tell your girl to say to the mean girls.


My daughter is really bumptious.
A real extrovert - the only one in our family.
It's a really confident, gung-ho, practical approach to life.
Her sense of fear is the lowest - she is wired differently from us - which is terrifying and we love it.

One afternoon, after school, we found 2 notes in her room.
"Dear Xxxxy youve bee meen today"
and "Dear Xxxxy youve been so meen".

We were curious and eventually found the right time to ask what they were about.

It turns out she had worked out a new ballet move and was trying it out in the playground.

They came up to her and told her off for showing off.
Both of them.
One by one.

Our hearts sank, because it was the first time the world was telling her that she shouldn't be showing off. That she should be ashamed of showing something she had figured out.

That she should hide it.

What was I going to say?

In my 40's, I'm still trying to find a way to deal with people who set themselves up us as judges.

Critics and arm-folders in real-life as much as the pretend world of online.

Even TV is skewed against me - spending our money on series after series after series where a judge or panel of judges sit in judgement of someone doing their Art.

Not as generous skeptics, to help them keep going in developing and expressing more vulnerability...

...but arms-folded gatekeepers, to decide whether you get to do this again, or stop.

And now, just like one of these cookie-cutter, production-line single-story format shows, I'm on the spot.

And I know it's important
(in the business, this is called the "stakes"... or the "jeopardy" moment)
- because from now on, every day in real life and on the Telly - the world will not want to stop telling her to stop.

"How dare you show your Art" - that might not work out - "How dare you expose yourself".

"You should be ashamed."

How can I arm my little girl against everyone, from the 5 year old girls in her class to the countless broadcast channels, to the infinite number of critics online, to ignore the judge.

To carry on without hearing her score from them.

To not wait for that long moment, with the tension music, and wobbly crash zoom on her face - and all the other faces who are going to be "told" if they can carry on.

[TENSION MUSIC] WOBBLY ANGLE ON MY FACE.

WHIP TO: MY WIFE'S FACE.

WHIP TO: MY SON ON THE FLOOR, BUILDING THE TITANIC IN LEGO.

DOUBLE-TAKE WHIP TO: MY DAUGHTER, WAITING FOR ME TO SAY SOMETHING.

[TENSION MUSIC CRESCENDO]

ME:
All I can say is this.
People have told me that I am a show-off, even when I'm not.
Or that I'm rubbish.
Or I should change this, or that.

And I don't know why they say mean things.
Maybe you annoyed them.
Maybe they're jealous.
Maybe they're afraid.

It doesn't matter.
If it was me, I'd try to say "thank you".

DAUGHTER:
Thank you?

ME:
Thank you.
This isn't for you.

This dancing. This singing. This drawing. This writing.
It isn't for them.
They told you this isn't for them.
Thank you.

Now you can carry on dancing, whether or not you find anyone else who likes it.
If they say it isn't for them...
That's okay.
Because, then, this isn't for them.

LONG PAUSE.

DAUGHTER:
I liked what Mummy said better.

MUMMY:
If you've got it flaunt it.

DAUGHTER:
Yeah. If you faunt it like it.


(If you're curious, the source of "Thank you. It's not for you" and "generous skeptics" and spirit of not pleasing gatekeepers is on Seth Godin's site here).

(If you're even more curious, all my favourite other quotes from Seth are here).

My complete guide to Understanding Your British Dad is coming together here

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