“Pink is a girl color.”
“Boys are police officers.”
“Girls ride horses.”
“Super heroes are for boys.”
When did my kids become so sexist? How did I let this happen? Am I so busy navel-gazing and second-guessing my parenting skills that I’ve allowed gender stereotypes to sneak in like hidden high-fructose corn syrup in, well, everything?
Every time I hear my kids limit themselves or each other based on their plumbing, I want to dress them in drag and report myself to the PC Parent Police. I’ve always told them that being a boy or girl has nothing to do with what they should like or be, but apparently my voice isn’t loud enough to rise above the din of pop culture.
I recently read “Secrets & Mysteries: The Glory and Pleasure of Being a Woman” by Denise Linn. It was a real eye-opener. Linn writes about reclaiming divine femininity and being comfortable with who you are as a woman. Over the course of my life, I’ve often felt embarrassed and encumbered by the fact that I’m female. I bought into others’ expectations of who I should be and how I should act, even though it felt wrong.
I don’t want that for my kids. I want my son to respect women and love being a man. I want my daughter to find strength in her femininity and power in herself. I want them both to delight in the differences between the sexes but feel secure in and proud of who they are.
How do I do that? I thought I was on the right track by letting Wee Man paint his toe nails despite his father’s objections. I hoped my Barbie ban would keep the Roo safe from blonde/boob caricatures. But there are so many subtle and pervasive messages about what characteristics go with which body parts, I’m in over my head.
I guess I’ll just have to keep correcting and redirecting as I hear them try to stuff boys and girls into their respective boxes. And take them to G-rated drag shows.
Or maybe I’m just doing that thing again where I’m crazy. Could be I just need to lighten up, get the Roo back into soccer and a the Wee Man a new nightgown.
For spring break, I treated us to a trip to our favorite mountain resort. By “treated” I mean “once again took advantage of an awesome friend with a fabulous ski home where we can stay for free.”
It was too hot to ski, so we found other fun among the mountain’s bald spots. Hot springs and the rec center were big winners. The Roo wanted to try ice skating, but Wee Man came down with a weird fever. So I Florence Nightingaled him while our pal took Roo up to the rink at the base of the mountain.
When they returned, my friend shared one of those stories that would’ve been much more enjoyable had it been about someone else’s kid.
In addition to showing off her natural skating talent, the Roo wowed our pal with her literacy. She read the rink’s dedication plaque:
BLACK FAMILY ICE RINK
You probably can guess where this is headed.
He congratulated her on her mad skillz and kept skating. About 10 minutes later, just when he was across the very public rink in the center of the village with roughly 20 innocent bystanders, she shouted out,
“HEY GUS — WHY IS IT CALLED THE BLACK FAMILY ICE RINK WHEN THERE ARE ONLY WHITE PEOPLE HERE?”
True, most of the patrons of this resort are as white as the melting snow. But did she notice this herself, or did I say something to help her reach that conclusion? Do I project my PC self-consciousness on to her by talking about it? Would that then sensitize her to people’s skin color, something she’s seemed pretty oblivious to up to this point?
I don’t think making an issue of it is the way to go. She’ll have plenty of time to develop PC self-consciousness in the future. For now, I’m taking it as yet another reminder for me to watch my mouth. A-parent-ly I can’t get enough of those.
“Mom, have you seen the guy who’s the voice of Puss in Boots?” the Roo asked.
Oh yes. I’ve always been a sucker for Latin lovers. I thought I was over it until my midlife crisis recently rekindled los fuegos. My husband knows that a big part of why he doesn’t need to bother to come to horse shows with me is that his supportive presence cuts into my time flirting with other men who are, for the most part, chulos.
Fortunately he is secure and trusting enough that he thinks it’s funny when I email him pictures of cute boys who are young enough to have been my children had I been a trampier teenager. When I text him to tell him Have fallen madly in love w Peruvian who lks like A Banderas. Flying 2 Peru 2moro in his lap. Pls bring kids to visit for Xmas if ur not 2 pissed, he laughs and shows it to his friends.
So of course I know who’s the voice of Puss in Boots, the Nasonex bee and the hot pervert in ¡Atame!
“Yep. His name is Antonio Banderas. He’s very handsome. He’s Spanish. I think men who speak Spanish are sexy.”
Hmmm. Not sure how much a 6-year-old needs to know about this. Better stick to general terms here.
“Handsome, attractive, good-looking…” I thought those were safe.
“Oh. Like Daddy tries to be sexy to keep your horse show boyfriends away?”
¡Madre de Dios! Where did that come from?!
Perhaps from those photos and texts, Mrs. Science.
If I were smarter, I’d remember my kids are much smarter than I am. Unfortunately for both us, they’re much, MUCH smarter than I am.