Friday, January 27, 2012

“Mama, the theme for my new bedroom will be fairytales, dinosaurs, and broccoli . . . or carrots.”

ready for SCIENCE
There is no denying my older daughter has eclectic tastes.  And there is no trying to tie her down to one description.  She knows what she likes and she sticks to it.  She loves pink, and she loves dinosaurs.  Always has.  She refuses to cut her hair because she wants to look like Rapunzel, and she is most comfortable in a pair of jeans and a science shirt (dinosaurs, microscopes, Stemgent, etc).  She is boy crazy already (even though she is only 7) and has plans for dating a lot when she gets older, but she doesn’t really want to be a mom.  She wants to have dogs instead of kids and wants to focus on her career as a hockey playing paleontologist.  She can sing most of the Disney princess songs, and can name most of the dinosaurs and paleontologists she sees, and can skate and take checks like a grown man.  I am constantly amazed by how strongly and passionately she embraces three worlds – the girly princess and the science geek and the tomboy.  What a wonderful, interesting, full world lies ahead for her!

cheering on her favorite team
Then I think about the little (and full grown) girls out there who don’t get a chance to be lots of things at once, who don’t know what they are passionate about.  Or the girls and women who know what they love, but don’t feel they can openly live out their dreams.  How sad is that?  And not just in far removed countries with laws created to shut women out.  There the burkas, curfews, regulations, limitations blatantly, opaquely define what a woman can and cannot do.  Here in Midwestern America, things are more subtle.  The eyebrows that go up when Sofi starts talking about science.  The people who laugh at her and then say, “Oh, well, she’ll grow out of it.”  When she talks about hockey they say, “That’s a nice way for her to meet a boyfriend, but I don’t think that is an appropriate activity for a girl.” (Even though girls have been playing hockey since the beginning of the sport.)  When she wears her Stemgent shirt and proudly tells people she wants to be a scientist and work with Lia Kent at Stemgent, it is not uncommon to hear actual gasps.  Why is this so shocking?  It is 2012, and women have been studying science, making incredible discoveries for hundreds of years.  At this point, her stubborn side (well, stubborn WHOLE) prevents her from being deterred by other people’s views of her hobbies.  But what about the girls who DO care what people think?  How is society blocking them in, shutting them off from other areas?  Telling them that "like a girl" means weak or vane or less intelligent.

So what can we do?  Give our kids options and lead by example.  For little boys as well as little girls.  Will it really kill them if we let the boy play in the kitchen and the girl play with Star Wars Legos?  Will they really be teased that much if the girl wears blue and the boy wears pink?  And who will tease them most: kids or adults?  The adults, in my experience, are the most judgmental and limiting.  They are the ones who set up these gender roles and teach them to their children.  Kids don’t care until the adult tells them, “That is wrong and I am right.”  When my younger daughter wanted to cut all her hair off, I was nervous because of what the adults in our community might think.  Then I came to my senses, adopted her courage, and realized I have to set the example and not force her against her will to adhere to illogical gender norms.  Does hair length really matter in the end?  Nope.  Is she thrilled with her short hair?  Yup.  Have some people questioned the decision? Of course.  Does she care? Not yet.

And in case you were wondering, my younger daughter is planning a Star Trek themed bedroom.  She likes other things, too, but dreams of living on the Enterprise (she already has a shuttlecraft bed).  Here she is with her favorite things (doll dress from here, Alice in Wonderland tutu dress from here, Cpt Kirk and Darth Vader from here).

No comments:

Post a Comment