Let me start off by saying that I grew up in an extremely matriarchal family. I was raised by a single mother who took on every role. She was both mother and father. She held a full-time job and taught me the value of a good education and strong work ethic. As a little girl I rarely pretended I was in a wedding (in fact, I do not think I ever did) and when I played with my Barbie dolls I always sent them off to work. I never owned a Ken doll.
Do I think of myself as this super ultra, burn my bra in the streets, feminist? No. Not even close. In fact, I never thought about that aspect of my childhood until I had children, 2 boys.
When my oldest son was born I continued to work. I worked until my fifth month of pregnancy with my second son. After that I became a stay at home mom. It is wonderful being a stay at home mom. I spend so much time with both of my children and, as any parent knows, this time goes by fast. Pretty soon they’ll be grown, living their own lives. I cherish every moment.
I have always emphasized to my older son that he could do anything that a girl can do and vice versa. Do not get me wrong- I do not preach! He was able to play with baby dolls. When he was in school he was always allowed to wear whatever he wanted in the dress up center, even if it was a princess dress. I made it “no big deal”.
Then his preschool years hit and his doll playing days were over. Ok! I am a teacher. I know this is normal. At this stage children begin to really think about what it means to be a girl or a boy. They look at the superficial: girls have long hair and boys have short. In the classroom I always took it in stride. Patience and persistence are key. Use lessons that show how we are all a community and we can do and be anything we want.
This is why I was really surprised that I was upset when my son began this phase. I found myself arguing with him more than I should have been. The evidence was piling high. My sweet boy was a mini sexist!
1. He came home from school
Me: How was your day?
Son: OK, I wanted to play super secret spy with the cars, but only Lara wanted to play with me.
Me. Did you guys have fun?
Son: No, I didn’t play with her. Its cars, Mom. She does not know how to play.
2. It was a rainy day
Son: Can I play video games?
Son: You do not want to play because you are a girl. Girl’s don’t like video games. right?
3. Christmas decorating
Son: I want to hang up our stockings! Dad, I’m going to hang yours by the computer. Mom, I’ll hang yours in the kitchen.
4. Discussion before bedtime
Mom: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Son: A policeman.
Mom: That is wonderful. Police officers are heroes. I thought about being one when I was a little girl.
Son: That is so silly!
Son: Well, it is called a policeMAN.
5. He came running out of his room with his friend
Son: Danny was screaming like a girl when I showed him my rubber bugs!!
Mom: I do not like when you say ‘scream like a girl’.
Mom: Because girls do not always scream.
Son: Ok, well, Danny was screaming like my friend………Emily.
Grrrrrrrrrrrrr! I think, how can this be the things my son is saying? I know I am being dramatic. I cannot help it. I want him to grow into a man who is understanding. A man who is compassionate. To do that I have to make sure everyone in our house is leading him in the right direction. Lead by example. We are not a family that settles for gender stereotypes. My husband can do the dishes just as easily has I can use a hammer and nails. We just have to have faith that one day it will click. Both of my sons will have that A-HA moment.
Patience and persistence…..I’ll just keep repeating that to myself. I know I am not the only mother who has to remind herself.
- Barbie Dreamhouse Opening (aliceininsomnialand.wordpress.com)
- The Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Sexists in Marvel’s amazingly awful new shirts (io9.com)