Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Getting 'em While They're Young
This picture has little to do with this post, beyond the theme of how our kids are taught what is gender appropriate at a young age--I found these shoes (excuse me, these HIGH-HEELED BOOTS!!!) in the girl's dept when I was shopping for my goddaughter. She's a six-year-old first-grader.
As a parent, I have decided on many occasions, that the patriarchy is out to do my efforts and my child in. The most recent realization occurred on Valentine's Day.
My son has a "girlfriend" back in Louisiana for whom he wanted to buy something for Valentine's Day and have it delivered to the school on February 13. He told me this the afternoon of February 13. He moped and whined for a while until I snapped, "She wasn't able to get you anything, so both of you can forgive each other!"
At which point, he informed me, "Valentine's Day is for girls!"
"Why," I asked, "is Valentine's Day for girls? What does that mean? Who told you that?"
"Girls are the ones who care about that stuff," was the only substantial answer I could get.
Silly, sentimental, emotive girls care about that stuff.
So, we talked for a bit, but I was still left with the, "Where does he get this stuff?" feeling.
I got a partial answer the next morning. We were up early and he turned the T.V. on to the Disney Channel. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on and I made him leave it there because I love the "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog" song they sing when the problem is solved. Don't ask, I just do.
Now Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a show for pre-schoolers. As such, it teaches colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. As an added bonus, it teaches gender roles!
Anyway, the episode was, "A Surprise for Minnie." Mickey had forgotten Valentine's Day and was trying to hurriedly make a card for Minnie (seeing as how Valentine's Day is for girls and all). Mickey got his card done, but poor, clueless Donald still had no gift for Daisy. Daisy prompts and prompts, but Donald is still lost. Daisy stomps off with her arms crossed.
Mickey appears in the corner of the screen to tell us, "Uh-oh. Daisy's gonna be so sad if Donald forgot her Valentine's Day gift." Then Mickey calls upon pre-schoolers to save Donald's fat from the fire! They use the last mousekatool, a piece of ribbon, to fashion a bow for Daisy. Upon seeing the bow, she goes into full, eyelash-fluttering, soft-voiced forgiveness mode. Donald whispers a grateful, "Thanks, guys."
Valentine's Day: negligible nuisance for men, holy holiday for women. As I was typing this post and re-watching the episode, I asked my son, "So what does that episode make you think?"
"That it matters to girls, but it doesn't matter to guys."
"And why do you think it matters to girls?"
"Because they like that kind of stuff, bows and hearts and stuff."
My dejected slump of the shoulders did not go unnoticed. He said, "It matters to me."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because you can show people how you feel about them. And you can show them respect and that you care about their feelings."
I have to teach him, of course, that you don't have to wait for an over-commercialized holiday to do those things. But I'd be lying if I said his words didn't make me feel a little better.