Tag Archives: gender

A Particular Post Has Jane’s Unmentionables In A Twist

A while back, a long while back, a particular post of a particular blogger on her particular blog was highlighted on a particular “Hey! Look At This Blogger!” kind of page. (Can you tell I’m trying to be particularly vague here?)

I read her particular post and it’s been gnawing at me ever since.

The post was singled out as being particularly good. And it was. I suppose. But the subject matter still has my protective, Mama Bear gene twisted in knots.

I wanted to comment the day I read the post. But I couldn’t. Emotions were too strong to comment. I was afraid I’d come across too judgemental. (Awww, who am I kidding? Too judgemental? Is there ever an acceptable amount of judgement?)

She was writing of a particular holiday. Her very young son’s class was having a party to celebrate by wearing their costumes. He wanted to be a female character from a certain cartoon. Embracing his love of the character, she helped create the perfect female costume for her son to wear.

(Now you’re going to have to trust me on this because I’m not going to send you a link to the post. Mostly, because I’m a chicken and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I’m hoping she never sees this post. So, you “Hey! Look At This Blogger!” editors? Go away. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.)

In her struggle to honor her son’s costume choice she went above and beyond to encourage his individuality. And I do mean, above and beyond. To the point when, as the event drew closer and he began showing great reluctance to wearing his costume, she pushed and encouraged him to march to the beat of his own (which began to sound like her own) drum.

The playground can be a horrible place. Real life, outside the comfort of your color-blind-gender-blind-we-all-bleed-poop-put-on-our-pants-one-leg-at-a-time living room, can be a horrible place. Kids can be mean. Kids can be, dare I say, judgemental.

Should a 6-year-old boy go to school dressed as a girl?

Yes. If that’s truly what my child wanted to dress as for a certain holiday, I’d let him. Nay-sayers be damned. I’d stick by my son, too.

But.

But.

If he showed the slightest sign of reluctance, I’d hightail it to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to find a replacement. I would not, could not push him to continue with his original plan.

One six-year-old is not going to change the dynamics of playground teasing. Teasing that could follow him for the rest of his life. If he was wise enough to recognize this? I’d honor that request in a heartbeat.

She didn’t. She proudly pushed him to show up in his first choice costume. And I’m glad she is so open-minded. I’m glad she’s teaching her child to follow a path with heart.

But at what point do we, as parents, back off and allow our children to push their own agendas, at their own pace? Encouraging our children to “do the right thing” is one thing. Encouraging them to express their individuality at the risk of relentless teasing at the tender age of six is another.

(Climbing off my high horse, now.

Sigh.

And apologizing in advance to all and any I may offend.)

26 Comments

Filed under children, Soapbox

The Moment I Knew I Was A Feminist

It was a cold, rainy day.

In kindergarten.

I was playing with my best friend, David. Playing indoors, because of the weather. And we were on our knees, vrooming our construction trucks around on the floor. Our classroom had a really neat mural on the floor, complete with roads and stop signs and houses and trees. It was early in the school year and we had been waiting for a day just like today so we could play inside during recess.

Now, I adored Mrs. Harvey. My first few weeks at school were better than I could have imagined. Mrs. Harvey was kind. And sweet. And she knew so much. Everything was a game with Mrs. Harvey. She smelled like cookies. Mrs. Harvey was the reason I wanted to be a teacher someday. Mrs. Harvey would be the first, of many, women role models in my life.

But Mrs. Harvey did not like me playing on the floor with the boys.

With the trucks.

Making vroom-vroom noises.

Mrs. Harvey told me that I wasn’t being very “ladylike” and I needed a little time to myself to reflect. It wasn’t time-out, exactly. She sat me at a table and taught me how to make “scribble pictures” with crayon. She told me this is what little girls were supposed to do during inside recess. This or play in the housekeeping area with the dolls and tea sets and little play stoves.

I didn’t like the housekeeping area. Besides, my friend – my best friend – liked to play trucks and build things with blocks. There weren’t any blocks or trucks in the housekeeping area.

That evening, I told my mother what had happened. She told me that some people thought that girls could only play with certain toys and in certain ways. When I was at home, playing in our neighborhood, I was free to play any way I wanted. But at school, I had to listen to Mrs. Harvey’s rules.

In our neighborhood, I was the girl who climbed trees, spit cherry pits the farthest, built sand castles and forts, played with trucks and raced on my bike. I wore garter snakes around my wrists and had an ant farm in my room. I was one of the first chosen for a game of kickball or baseball. My best friends were boys because they knew how to play. The only time I touched a doll was to switch the heads of my sister’s Barbies and larger baby dolls so we could laugh at the absurdity.

In high school, I was lamenting to one of my guy friends about my lack of dates. He said, “You’re not the kind of girl guys date. You’re the kind guys marry.” It was supposed to be a compliment. At the time, it was little consolation.

I’m glad I had a mother that told me it was ok to be who I was. And while Mrs. Harvey squelched me a little on that cold, October day – her sweet, nurturing nature was something I craved and wanted to emulate. She was much older than my mother and a victim of her era. All is forgiven.

But that day, the day I was told little girls don’t play with trucks and make loud noises, was a defining moment for me.

It is a day I look back on fondly. At the time, I was upset. But I had a mother who believed I could play with trucks if I wanted to. I had a father who took me fishing and to baseball games. I was in elementary school during the ’70s, watching the women’s movement take off. There were so many more amazing female role models to come.

I smile when I take a look at what my life is now. I am a mother of three. Who gave up her career to stay home with her children. To raise them full-time. A job I wouldn’t trade for any other. I love to bake and have an orderly home. I’d rather cook something from scratch than pop dinner in the microwave. We even have a picket fence around our yard.

It sounds all so very 1950s.

But it’s who I am.

It’s what I love.

And it’s the feminist movement that allows me to be proud of  this very delicious, amazing, gratifying and yes, enviable place in my life.

17 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned, Observations