January 17, 2004
Tonight [Holly] and I went into the gaming shop to pick Kirby up after work.
Holly's hair has lately been cut about 1/2" short and dyed lighter (its purple
went to pink and is now blondish).
Kirby's boss is 40's and has a daughter, schooled, late teens.
He said, "Holly, you have a lot of courage."
"Okay, thanks. Why?"
"To do your hair like that. Most girls your age wouldn't be brave
enough to have their hair that short."
Holly smiled and shrugged and was friendly, and I said, "She's not in school.
He looked at me like I had entirely changed the subject, and said most women
wait another ten years before they're brave enough to have a haircut like
that, or some such.
I know he meant it as a compliment, but it was a strangely disjoint (and
still friendly) conversation.
This next one was posted on some unschooling list or another:
Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 06:42 pm:
Today at the zoo Holly told a mom she should be
nicer to her son.
We were in a three-stall bathroom. I was in the
far one, with a baby stroller between me and the
outside (door open). I could see Holly. She was
facing the outside door, and a mom came in being
rough and threatening with her kid. Critical, not
threatening. "I'm tired of you and I'm not going
to put up with this" kind of speech.
When she opened the door to leave, Holly said "You
really should be nicer to him."
She heard me say that to our behind-the-wall
The woman turned back toward Holly (I could tell
because of the sound) and said "He's my son and I
love him and I take care of him 24 hours a day and
I know what needs to be done, thank you very
much." It was a mostly nice tone of voice.
I was giving Holly the "cool!" hand signal from
where I was for having said something.
I asked her how old he had been, and she said
We get out and there's a batch of kids I
recognized, because we had given them all some of
our fish'n'duck food. It was the oldest boy.
Marty had seen the other part of it. The boy was
in trouble for crying because an older cousin (10
or 11 he figured) had climbed up on the front of
the two-passenger stroller he and his brother were
in, and he had no place for his feet and he wanted
her off (or maybe she had stepped on him).
Then Holly said what I hadn't known. The mom had
pulled him in the bathroom and swatted him twice,
and told him she was tired of his "episodes."
So that was all sad, but good that my kids were so
thoroughly on the kids' side.
The mom wasn't being thoughtful or calming. She
was just threatening.
Holly couldn't imagine why a six year old was in
trouble because an older relative had crowded him.
The mom needed a snack and a nap, I'm guessing.
And some therapy maybe. But she got a touch
of it, when a twelve year old girl looked at her
levelly and suggested she could be nicer.
I referenced that zoo story just this week, and now I find a report when it was new! I'm very glad I wrote that down, and that I found it again today (looking for something altogether different, where I find some of my best stuff).
Holly's an inspiration to me, and I'm glad to know her and to be able to see her grow braver and better all the time.
Update on March 15:
I found another Courageous Holly story here: Unexpected Benefits of Unschooling. That was written in 2005, so Holly was thirteen when I wrote it, and eight years old at the time of the original incident, I think.
About five years ago, Holly was swimming with a young neighbor and her youngish uncle, who was pretty much her primary caregiver. He was house-sitting a third neighbor’s pool (so right near) and… he would not let his niece get out and get her towel.
She was cold, and wanted to get out and sit with the towel.
The answer was no.
Holly looked at all that, got out of the water, walked over, got the towel and brought it to the girl. That was brave, I think. Holly probably didn’t think “brave.”