I love this photograph of my daughter G for a very special reason.

She had suddenly filled out with solid muscles on the lower half of her body. She could kick a ball across the length of the football pitch and you could hear the thwack from a long way off. Not many girls – or even boys – could do that.

But the fact remains that muscles are heavy. She tops the scale at 60 kgs. She used to be the fastest sprinter on pitch but someone else recently out-sprinted her. As the team’s striker, she could not afford to be slow and Coach gave her a hard time about her 60 kgs.  Some of the mothers on the sidelines tsk tsk-ed. Girls are sensitive about their weight, therefore her father and I should stop this very public dressing down.

Let’s face it. Girls – and boys – are sensitive about many things, IF you allow them to be. It is up to YOU as parents to develop their filtering system and build their strength. Don’t expect the world to be kind to your little darling. Don’t get crossed and het up at the world for not changing its ways to fit your little darling – and you are not the policeman/woman either telling the world what it should or should not do.

When G was six, she started going to TaeKwonDo three times a week with an old local Chinese guy.  This instructor spoke in heavily accented English, Chinese and Malay that G could not understand. She was the only expat child so she was the only one who was ‘blur’.  “Why you so stupid!” Master Yeow would exclaim at least 10 times per class. When Master Yeow once showed her something written in English, she stared blankly at him.  She could not read until she was eight and Master Yeow thought she was being disobedient, because all the Chinese kids could speak three languages and read and write whilst they were still in nappies.

Yet she went back again and again, three times a week, for 8 years – sometimes cross, sometimes smiling, sometimes fired up. At the tender age of 10, she won the national championships for the Under 13 category. Stupid or not, she knew who she was.

Today, she speaks five languages (English, Spanish, French, Indonesian/Malay and learning Russian) and consistently in the top 5 in her year group academically.  All those years of being called stupid three times a week has not impacted her at all.

Just as being called a heffalump by her Coach. “Sorry, Sir, will work on my speed,” she replied cheerily.

I love this photograph because she was on the field this morning, half an hour early, warming up for sprint exercises. Criticisms is how you choose to take it. A precious princess or a little emperor will get all huffy and the dragon-parents would wade in to fight their little darling’s battle. But just get on with it, please!

The real world is never always kind. And here’s the thing: you can’t be around always to fight your children’s battles for them and nor can you ‘tell the world off’. They have to meet people who don’t like them (deal with it), they have to deal with bad relationship break-ups (deal with it), they have to deal with obnoxious people (deal with it). Mummy and Daddy don’t live forever.