I recently posted a link to Katy Perry singing a duet with an autistic girl on Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars and got a few snide comments about Katy Perry. Which bothered me since the video is of her singing a duet with an autistic girl to raise money for charity.

And while Last Friday Night’s a little questionable, the song in the video is Firework.

If you’re not familiar with it, Firework tells teenage girls they can kick ass if they want to, that shining is their birthright. As it is for anyone born human.

I understand why teenage girls need to be told this. I was a teenage boy once, and there were times when I felt like “wasted space.” Katy Perry says to hell with that.

My wife and I raised a daughter with the understanding that, of course, she would kick ass and shine. We raised a son that way, too, but today I’m focusing on our daughter because several people have told me they like the strong female characters in Palm Springs Heat. I like them, too. Who doesn’t like strong women?

Don’t get me wrong—weak women as well as strong ones should expect to be loved and treated with respect. It’s just that I haven’t known a lot of weak women.

Aurora, our daughter, has always been capable of holding her own. But one place in particular you would definitely not want to mess with her was the field of play. Her middle-school basketball team was bad. I mean ungodly, which is saying a lot since she went to a Catholic school. I’m talking no wins in sixth or seventh grade. But Aurora was a pretty good player, leading the team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots. The lane was hers.

One time when she grabbed a rebound and turned to pass to a teammate, a girl from the other team tried stealing the ball. Now, Aurora didn’t mean to do anyone any harm, but she managed to wrench the ball—and the player—all the way across her body. The ball ended up tucked under Aurora’s left arm; the player ended up on the floor.

Aurora jabbed a finger to within an inch of the girl’s face and said something we couldn’t hear from the stands. I asked her later what it was, and she said, “I told her, ‘Slaughter rule—no pressing.’”

That’s a take-charge attitude a father can be proud of. If the refs aren’t going to enforce the rules, someone has to.

The second story happened during a softball game on an infernally hot July afternoon. Aurora was a pitcher—and a good one, with excellent control and the blazingest fastball in the league.

After she had finished four innings, she came to the dugout with sweat pouring down her face and I told her she was done for the day. “No I’m not,” she said.

Go on…

“I have to get that stupid, little girl out.”

I don’t know if said girl was stupid, but she was tiny. And she crouched when at bat. And drew a walk every time. In fact, no one could remember if she had ever taken a swing in four seasons.

And she was due up the next inning.

When the girl came to the plate, Aurora had murder in her eyes. I thought, “My god, she’s not going to drill her?” Instead, my daughter leaned in toward the plate, rocked back and whipped the ball faster and straighter than I’d ever seen her do it.

Strike one.

The next pitch was exactly the same. So bewildered was the batter that the other team’s coach called time out to explain what was going on. And, apparently, to tell her to swing.

The next pitch was just like the first two. The ball smacked the catcher’s mitt. The batter swung (and, yes, it happened in that order).

Strike three. Strike four, if you count the swing.

Aurora stalked off the mound, oblivious to the accolades she was receiving for her tour de force.

“Okay,” she said with a scowl, “now I can come out.”

She kicked ass. She shone. She was a firework. And I had no problem with that. Or with Katy Perry’s message to teenage girls. In that one song, at least.

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