“Girly Things”…

Here’s one of my favourite posts from the archives…it originally appeared on April 17, 2010.  I’ve added some newer photos.  Enjoy!:


Recently, one of my single dad friends was looking for ideas for “girly things” to do with his daughter, who was coming to visit for the day…it made me start thinking about what that term even means…

My dad used to cook breakfast for us every morning.  I remember a couple of times we made pies together.  He also took us tobogganing, built us a go-cart and a treehouse, and took us fishing.  He taught me how to throw and catch a softball.  When I was eleven, he taught me how to drive our 1948 Ford farm tractor!  I’ll never forget the yell he let out when I “jumped” the front by letting the clutch out too fast (considering I only weighed about 60 lbs at the time, it was amazing I could push it in at all, let alone let it out slowly!).  We planted seeds in the garden, and picked apples together.  He encouraged us to climb the horse chestnut tree in the back yard.

Uncle Mal, Grandad, and Dad Doing Dishes...

My mom would put stuff back together after my dad took it apart.  She also painted the exterior of our two-storey house!  In addition to sewing a lot of our clothing, she used to design and build furniture too.  She taught me to cook and bake, and how to drive.

I have three daughters, a stepdaughter, and a granddaughter – I should be an expert on “girly things.”  Our downstairs kids’ bathroom is a mess of ponytail holders, hair dryers and straighteners, and nail polish!

I’ve always told my girls that there are only three things men can do that women can’t:

1. Father a child.

2. Pee standing up (we can do that too, but it’s messy).

3. Show somebody their Adam’s apple.

My children know that there’s no such thing as “girl toys” or “boy toys.”  Hope wanted a firetruck for her fifth birthday, and we got her one (she also had lots of baby dolls).

Instead of thinking of “girly things” to do with your daughter, why not come up with activities which will strengthen her self-esteem, and her bond with her dad?

1. Take her to the library.  Show her some of your favourite books when you were a kid – she might like “The Hardy Boys.” I did!

Scott reading to Elise...

2. Take her for a drive to a place you like – tell her why.

3. Take her to a movie that both of you will enjoy – Pixar has come out with some excellent 3-D movies lately.

4. Play computer games with her.  Jim and Brianna play WOW together.

5. Go to the park and swing together.

Hope on the Swing...

6. Go for a walk on the beach and look for pretty stones or shells.

7. Think of an art project to do together – maybe a present for a grandparent.

8. Take her to the driving range or the batting cage – my niece, Taylor, goes golfing with my brother.

9. Cook or build something together.

10. Teach her to do something you’re good at.

11. Go to a concert or a play together.

12. Take her to a go-cart track, and let her drive.

Hope at the go-cart track in PEI, August, 2010...photo by Anna

Your kid doesn’t care if you do “girly things” with her…she just wants to do stuff with her dad!

Uncle Neal and Cousin Caryn on the Unicycle...


Filed under memories, rants, self-discovery

28 responses to ““Girly Things”…

  1. What a great post, Wendy! And you are so right–things don’t have to be girly. The simple fact of doing something with daddy makes it special!
    Love the unicycle photo. I used to ride a friend’s as a kid–now that was FUN!

  2. Forgot to mention–big news on my blog today–check it out!’

  3. What an amazing unicycle photo. He is gooood. The closest I came to that was rolling an oil drum barrel standing up and barefooted around the yard. I loved it so much I was sure to have one in our back yard for our girls.

  4. Good suggestions, Wendy. Reminds me of the time we visited my wife’s grandfather and his brothers visited, and my wife mentioned that I cook. One of her great-uncles was like, “What do you make? Toast?” I said, no, I really do cook. I took a cooking class in college, and I like to cook. He goes, “What do you make? Toast?” I said no, I really do cook. He goes, “I grew up with a boy who was a good cook. [Beat.] His mother raised him as a girl.”

  5. Excellent ideas about “do together activities.” How wonderful that your friend is really noticing and interested in his daughter. I know one single dad who insisted on sharing his love of sports with his girly-girl when she was much more interested in American girl tea parties.
    Both men and women can master most of the same tasks but it has been my experience that we do think about things differently and maybe are wired to like some activities more than others. I had no desire to zoom matchbook cars across the carpet endlessly with Cole but did enjoy building with wooden blocks–which could later be made into ramps and garages. I guess the only way to figure it out is to offer a wide range of experiences and see what sticks.

    • Thanks, Katybeth…interesting observations! I was raised to be a strong, independent woman, and I want my daughters and granddaughter to be the same way…I don’t want them to be limited in any way by gender stereotypes!


  6. Wonderful post full of great ideas; couldn’t agree more .. MJ

  7. It’s amazing that some still think along the lines of girl things and boy things. Just spending time together is the most important thing. Great post!!

  8. The unicycle picture makes me nervous!! 🙂
    And the list of things to do are unisex! How convenient!

    • Worry pas, Lenore…the little girl in the picture is all grown up, happy and healthy, and expecting her second little boy! I don’t know if Uncle Neal is still riding his unicycle or not…he has a motorcycle, and a classic car he restored to play with now! Glad you liked the list! Wendy

  9. You are so right! I love this post Wendy. Spending quality time with either parent just enjoying each other is so important for confidence building in kids.

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and list Wendy. Both are great. My dad taught me how to sail and it has been a part of my life since I was five. Mom taught me how to sew and cook. What I love about both of them is that they shared their love of reading and willingness to try new things without caring about perfection. Time spent doing things together is what will be remembered and cherished. Blessings to you Wendy, Jeanne

    • Thanks, Jeanne…didn’t know you sailed too! You should be my “go to person” if I ever need a ride in any vehicle!!! Glad your parents instilled that love of reading! Wendy

      • Would you like a ride in my tow truck?

        One weekend about a year ago I had the best weekend ever. I went flying, drove our Harley motorcycle for the first time, drove my husband’s racecar in a ladies only race, and took the boat for a spin. I was thankful for no tow calls that weekend but thought I should have tried to fit in a trip around the lake in Dad’s sailboat to top off a perfect weekend.

        If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t had time or money for just about everything on the list above this summer. Work..work..work!

      • I think your new nickname should be “GoGoGma”! Wendy

  11. As a dad myself, this post touched my heart. Thank you, Wendy!

  12. I really enjoyed this. I hate the idea of steering a child towards specific activities simply because of gender. I helped my father in the garage and my mother in the kitchen. I can cook, knit, do crafts and enjoy them all. I also can work on my car, do carpentry and fix things around the house. I love makeup and shoes, get all squealy around cute animals, and get freaked out by bugs. But I also don’t care about getting dirty, I carry heavy things on my own, and I curse like a sailor. My parents pretty much let me be interested in what I wanted to be and didn’t limit me to ‘girly’ things. I think both girls and boys will grow up to be much more interesting people if their parents worry less about their ‘gender development’ and more about simply spending time with their children to develop relationships, character, and values.

  13. jacquelincangro

    Well said! I really think that kids just want their parents to spend time with them. It doesn’t have to be doing expensive things or elaborate things. Usually the little things make the best memories, anyway.

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