Once upon a time, there was a little girl who couldn't quite fit into the standard pink box. She thought it was fun to test the limits of uppermost tree branches, participate in water gun battles with neighbor boys, and hunt for new specimens to add to her bug collection. She explored the great outdoors, searching for interesting creatures like frogs, toads, and snakes. She disdained dresses, and instead favored clothing that was better designed for activities such as exploring muddy ravines, climbing knotted rope swings, or hanging upside down from monkey bars.
The neighborhood boys didn't know what to think about this girl who insisted on joining them in their daily adventures. Some accepted her into their sunburned, dusty group. Others openly protested her presence. But she tagged along with the boys, ever ready for the next challenge. When she met with injury as a result of her tomboyish ways, she shrugged it off – most of the time. One day, she acquired a nasty lump on her forehead. Concerned about her new look, she asked the opinion of one of the boys. He assured her that the bump didn't look too bad; it only reminded him of a unicorn, that was all. Alarmed at first, she soon recovered and moved on to other experiences, such as falling off a tire swing and getting the wind knocked out of her.
Happily, the girl had a father who understood her ways. He taught her how to throw a ball, how to run faster, and how to improve her chess game (although she never quite learned how to successfully checkmate him.) He showed her how to overcome limits that others set for her, and he made it plain that it was okay for a girl to be strong and brave. He accepted her for who she was, and took pride in her capabilities. And his daughter entered her teen years, feeling more secure than most of her peers felt at this age.
As the girl grew older, she acquired new skills that strangers often assumed were foreign to her gender. Her father fixed houses for a living, and his daughter became his right-hand woman. She learned how to carry two-by-fours, mix cement, and paint houses. She climbed ladders, sweated in attics, and shivered in crawl spaces. She hauled miter saws, furniture, and appliances. She grew accustomed to being underestimated by men and women alike. She often heard grim predictions of how she might hurt her back or ruin her posture. One man refused to let her assist her father in hauling lumber. When she didn't take no for an answer, he relegated her to middle position (an altogether useless role), as he picked up her end of the beam. She said nothing, but from her middle position, she mischievously raised the beam until it was the doubter who found himself performing an unnecessary gesture.
That worrisome girl never did break her back, wreck her posture, or strain her “delicate” bones. She is now a tall woman with a strong frame. She knows that she is perfectly capable of removing tough jar lids, carrying heavy boxes, and shoveling snow. She still enjoys exceeding people's expectations. She has also learned to wear dresses (sometimes), to carry herself gracefully, and to embrace her femininity. True, she might never be as capable in the kitchen as her father and brother are... only because their cooking skills are so amazing. After all, the men in her family enjoy breaking stereotypes, too.