Bittermelons and Brownies – A recipe for growing Atiya

To my younger daughter Atiya, adjusting to a new chopped and blended family; I suggested four specific strategies beyond the injunction to be a strong independent woman. While Amani was born as I completed my degree in architecture where strength and uniqueness were primary virtues, Atiya was born during my graduate work in philosophy. In utero, she quietly listened to lectures on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Aristotle’s Physics and Kant’s Third Critique. Her childhood rules reflect an awareness of time, a categorical responsibility and a sense of everything having a place. Six-year-old Atiya followed these four rules:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Finish what you start
  3. Clean up after yourself
  4. Keep your hair out of your face

It was a way to help her understand the importance of presence, engagement and responsibility. These were general rules applicable to many situations that helped her understand my expectations and helped me nag less.  The fourth rule “keep hair out of your face” was a later amendment, as her hair grew longer than her patience to care for it. Atiya is one of the most punctual, hard working, responsible and bright-faced women I know.

Amani and Atiya, you are both far better versions of me. Please don’t let my recipes limit you. I write these stories and recipes to help you write your own, not to follow mine. The recipe for growing girls has served you well but now is inadequate. You have both grown beyond simple slogans or prescriptions.

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