Late yesterday afternoon I was sneaking in a few minutes of writing time while Hannah was watching a movie. Once she realized what I was doing, the movie was no longer interesting:
"Do you want a sticker? I love stickers. Let's play a game!"
"Can I just finish up this one section? I'm almost done . . ."
Hannah (with world's largest pout):
"I'm really frustrated with you for working.
It's not meant for you.
Only boys, not Mommys.
Mommys don't go anywhere or do anything."
Um, not good. I don't want Hannah and Charlotte growing up thinking they just have to know how to be a good wife, how to cook, do laundry and keep the house clean. Which is basically what my mother told me, and probably my sisters, too.
Mom later apologized for it, but in some ways the damage had been done. After all, when you spend most of your early years doing all of the household chores (don't leave a dish dirty or you'll have to wash every one in the house. Every last one. Good times!), not being allowed to play sports, and not being encouraged in math and science, you sort of get it set in your mind that you can't do those things. Not just "not allowed" but actually "incapable." It's a hard lesson to overcome and most emphatically not one I want my daughters to learn.
Today, my sister Sarah told me that my eight year old niece, who has been playing soccer since she was three--the last couple of years in an all-girl league--had her first practice with her new, co-ed league. Inexplicably, she decided to pretend to the boys that she didn't know how to play. She then stood back and let them do everything.
Fortunately, Sarah was having none of that. After practice, she pulled her daughter aside and asked her what that was all about. When there was no satisfactory answer, my niece was told that this was not to happen again. That she knew how to play--probably better than most of the other kids there, including the boys. That, next practice, she was to go out there and be aggressive and do her best or there would be no soccer.
All three of Sarah's girls have been told, basically from birth, just how lucky they are to be girls: they can do anything that the boys can do and then go home and put on a pretty dress if they want to. Something that most boys don't get to do.
Amen to that.
She is my younger sister, but I want to be just like Sarah when I grow up.