And protest she did,
Sitting on my shoulders, chanting
“Can we leave now?”
In my ear. Eight years old, she cares
Little for speeches or marches.
She’s no Emma González, no Naomi Walder.
What kind of father am I?
Did I not prepare her, tell her
Just the right amount about mass—
I mean, about the kids who—
I mean, about why we’re here,
Gathered outside city hall
With thousands of people
Holding handmade signs saying,
“Arms Are for Hugging,”
“I’m Tired of Being Afraid,”
“Enough Is Enough”?
My daughter has had enough, too,
And asks again to go.
I tell her it will matter to us later
That we were here.
Why should she care?
Instead, she counts dogs in the crowd,
Among them an old hound
Wearing “Bark-Land for Parkland”
And a brand new puppy snoring soundly.
She’s happy I buy her a protest pin.
It’s pink. It says “Fight Like a Girl.”
It’s a way to participate.
But what she wants right now
(What kind of feminist father am I?)
Is to get her nails done.
So after the official moment of silence,
We leave the city green,
Retrace two city streets,
Enter the salon we walked past earlier.
She sits in one chair,
I sit in the other.
Two women clip our nails,
Push back our cuticles.
Buff our plates.
My daughter picks a purple polish
With gold speckles,
Colors as vivid and vibrant
As the protests,
Young people prodding the old to change.
I choose a clear coating,
As clear as it has now become to me
That we must resist violence in all the ways,
That this, too, is politics,
This yielding, allowance
For what my little one does not know.
So fraught a form of love.
While marchers march outside,
Father and daughter
Get manicures together,
No one in the room waving about
Any gender roles
Teens started March For Our Lives, but all ages participated [Vox]
The story behind 11-year-old Naomi Walder and her March For Our Lives speech [The Washington Post]
Paul T. Corrigan teaches writing and literature at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. He lives in the Peace River Watershed, where he walks to work.