A friend recently said that our four-year-old, H, reminds her of a Yoshitomo Nara character. I’d never heard of Nara but googled him and promptly fell in love with his paintings. I also saw the resemblance straight away.
At home, H is brave and affectionate, funny and confident. What most visitors and strangers see, however, is this face:
(No, she’ll never be a Mouseketeer.)
But those who care to make the effort can see what we see: an introvert who takes her time getting to know new people. A child who scrutinizes situations with care, and who will not be rushed into interactions. A person who knows her own mind.
Parenting a child like this is always interesting, not least because others are so often full of advice: “Don’t be shy!” “Smile, peanut!” “Nobody likes a sulky girl!” They offer this advice in loud, bright voices, usually while trying to touch her. And more often than not, they’re offended when she flinches away.
While this can be awkward, I’m not-so-secretly thrilled. I love the idea of raising a fierce girl. A girl uninterested in pleasing strangers. A girl who trusts her own judgement.
(And, in the future, a woman who embraces her RBF.)
That’s why I love Nara’s paintings so. Most images of girls and women still fall into one of three broad categories: pensive/passive, playful/pliant, or faux-fierce. In contrast, Nara’s girls seem completely uninterested in pleasing the viewer – or, often, even acknowledging one.
One day, fierce girls will rule the world. I hope ours is one of them.