She is the smallest 7 year old I have ever seen, with this tremendous, wavy hair that pours down her shoulders. She can’t weigh forty pounds. Nevertheless, she’s the first kid in our group to pull me aside and say, “Will you take me on a roller coaster?”
She isn’t tall enough to qualify for the bumper cars, how are we going to ride a roller coaster?
“Oh, I just need an adult to go with me. Don’t worry, I’m brave.”
And she is. She’s unbelievably brave. Our first roller coaster attempts to shake our brains out our ears, and she has tears all down her face when we pull back in, but she’s grinning when she says, “I was too terrified even to scream!”
Later, after nightfall, I take another little girl with us. They are navigating by the signs, without any help from me. “I’m proud of you two. You’re courageous.”
“And smart,” one adds. This is important to them. That I confirm their cleverness. And I do, and then they tell me about being called the B-word, about how they don’t think it’s OK. How are they seven and already called the B-word?
“No, it’s never OK,” I assure them. And their toughness means something else. These scrappy girls who ride roller coasters in the dark, in the wind, in the rain. I admire them. I do. I’m nearly beaming with the pride I feel in these girls whose names I didn’t know two days ago. It means something that they exist in the world. That they exist everywhere in the world. Radiant and fierce.