Family / Kids / Parenting

I Love Rock and Roll

IMG_1231We walked into the building hand in hand and I carried her lunch box while she carried her guitar. Her outfit was carefully chosen, though it may not have appeared that way. She wore simple dark grey cargo shorts, a white t-shirt and her multi-colored kicks. We stood in line at the registration and as we waited to sign in, live music burst from the room just ahead of us – voices, guitars, keyboard, bass and drums filling our ears, pounding in our chests. I had time to really look at the people standing around and take them in completely. There were camp staff with dyed or spiked hair, piercings and tattoos wearing black and denim and big clunky shoes. There were girls with short hair and Converse tennis shoes and even the girls with long hair had fewer bows and ruffles or wore them with an edge.

This was a place that truly celebrated difference. This was the Girls Rock and Roll Retreat in the Twin Cities.

Zeca found her name tag (which included a pair of ear plugs) and put her lunch on the cart with the others and set her guitar in the hallway and then stood before me to say goodbye. “Can I hug you?” I asked. She looked around and I said, “Or maybe we can just shake hands?” She smiled and grabbed my hand, held it for a second, let go and then turned and disappeared into the dark room filled with music. I stood there for a moment and then, without warning, my eyes filled with tears so I quickly put on my sunglasses and walked out.

My thoughts ran in parallel lines. I thought of my daughter and the ways in which she is so different than other girls her age. She dresses the way she wants and moves in the world on her own terms but I know it isn’t always easy. She feels invisible and conspicuous at the same time. I thought of myself as a mother and the ways in which her experience is so close to my own. I walk into spaces with other mothers and never look like them. I know how tiring it can be to stay true to yourself when it would be so much easier to blend. And, for a brief moment, I thought of myself at her age and remembered that I felt different in ways I couldn’t name. What would the experience have done for me? What would it have felt like to step into a room in which there was no single way to be a woman or girl? What will this do for my own daughter? I sat in my car thinking until the lines became smudged and the stories became just one – gratitude.

I once overheard her say to her brother, “I just want to be a different kind of girl.” She is that and for that week of camp, she was able to be herself without explanation or apology. And each day that I dropped her off, I stood in the registration area looking so very queer but feeling that I fit in perfectly. Joan Jett said, “At a very young age, I decided I was not going to follow women`s rules.” This may be one of the great gifts of rock – freedom.

PHOTO CREDITS: VIKKI REICH

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8 Comments

  1. GrandeMocha says:

    Your rock star and your story are just beautiful!

    What did Z say about the experience?

    • Vikki Reich says:

      She loved it. She connected with some of the older girls who found her absolutely adorable and felt so good about learning new things. There was drama in her band this year (she went last year too) but that’s all part of rock – Ha Ha

  2. These posts about Zeca are a challenge for me. They make me face my fear that I will pass on the subtle message that I am less proud of my daughter because she tries so hard to blend in. She shouldn’t have to. Even following her heart, she’s naturally a pretty mainstream kid. But she seems to always expend that little extra energy making sure she doesn’t stand out.

    I am so proud of my daughter. She has overcome so much and it is a small miracle that she gets to be run of the mill. I wish I could smother the part of me that wishes she would shave off half her hair and get a neck tattoo.

    Reading these posts helps me think through this. I think it makes me a better mother. Thank you.

    • Vikki Reich says:

      I’m sure your pride comes through and if it’s any consolation, I have my moments when I wish Zeca would blend because it would be easier. Our thoughts are ours. Our actions towards our daughters are what matters.

  3. Sigh. Your daughter is my face

  4. Fave. Fave!!! Autocorrect will be the death of me

    • Vikki Reich says:

      I wondered what the significance of her being your face was. It was so deep I didn’t even understand. Ha.

  5. I love so hard that she gets this experience. So hard.

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