In the years to come when I think back to this historically significant week for our country...here's what I'll remember:
- Barack Obama accepting the democratic nomination for President of the United States
- Michelle Obama setting the bar for many First Lady-nominees to come
- Hillary Clinton's 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling
- And my 7-year old daughter's gutsy decision to play kickball at recess.
So why is it that I rank a grade school kickball game up there with all those other groundbreaking moments? Because my daughter's school playground became a metaphor for me this week, of what can happen when people who have fought discrimination all their lives, no longer have to take "you can't" for an answer.
First, let me explain that the 2nd grade kickball game had - up until Wednesday - been a boys-only recess activity. Not because of any school rule, but because of a reluctance by many a little girl to wade onto that testosterone-filled diamond and ask to play. But ask to play my daughter did. And while many of those boys thought nothing of it, there were a few who snickered at her.
According to witnesses (the principal, for one), everything was going fine until my daughter kicked the ball and was put "out" by another player. That's when the name calling and ugliness started. Two boys swore at my little girl, telling her she "sucks" and calling her "dumb," "stupid," and "an idiot."
Apparently steeled to such insults over her short lifetime by her big brother -- my daughter did not crack. Rather, she asked them to stop. When they did not, the principal stepped in. The perpetrators were "benched" and told to write apology notes.
When I learned of the incident later that day from the principal -- I asked if my daughter had cried or seemed hurt at all by it. The principal told me that my girl had taken it in stride -- and rather than fight back with more hurtful words or actions, she had simply gotten back into the game.
When I asked my daughter about it, she announced "if a woman can become President, I can certainly play kickball with the boys." She added that despite the incident, she intends to play kickball with the boys every recess. And her goal is to get just as good at it as the boys - even if some of them make it clear that they don't want her to play. As she says, "it's no big deal."
Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton - and all those who came before them - endured much, much more in order to play with "the big boys." Now finally, after decades of persistence and faith, a goal that once seemed out of reach is now within their grasp.
And while these achievements are considered historic by us grown-ups who can intellectually appreciate the rocky roads they've each had to travel - the children of 2008 see them not as groundbreaking, but as the norm. And that, in and of itself, is something we can all be proud of.
So I say to my daughter - you go, girl. Kick one for me.
Happy Friday, and have a safe Labor Day weekend.