Over a dinner of home-made (bag-removed) chicken nuggets and frozen peas, this conversation happened.
“Mom, some of the girls say boys are lame. And the boys say girls are lame. But I know that’s not true– because you take me to Moral Monday and explain stuff to me All.The.Time. And all the books that you read to me about suffer-bridge (suffrage) and that other book** from the 70s- remember?
Girls aren’t lame because they are girls. But boys aren’t gross because they are boys.”
I interjected– “equal doesn’t mean better”.
“Right. So I’m stuck in the middle in this world war at the Elemen-tar-y school. And I just keep yelling ‘we’re equality’, but not many of them are listening to me. It’s just stupid.”
It’s that simple– for him all of this gender bias means nothing more than a waste of precious, adult-free, recess time.
He’ll be seven in a few months and this conversation pretty much wiped out 2 months of back-talking, eye-rolling, and limit-testing. I can deal with that if it means he’ll walk out into the world telling people that bigotry and misogyny just wastes precious time.
Though I have to temper my immediate urge to squeal, Fight the Power, darling with:
It’s not just about allowing the limit-testing at home to encourage free-thinking– yes, one has to happen for the other to develop. But part– a HUGE part– of learning independent thinking has to include understanding the consequences of your actions.
Doing what’s right over what’s generally accepted by the masses often includes a backdraft. Deciding that the consequences are worth it encompasses a giant part of developing morality (for us all, right?)
Then, with his face smeared with milk and talking through a mouth full of half-chewed chicken nugget, he tells a fart joke and calls me a hipster. The hipster thing I corrected immediately; I am hippie. There’s a difference.
Anyway, I document my frustration with child-rearin’ a lot and those are fair moments. But tonight I looked at my kid, with the weight of an entire first grade’s gender war riding on his shoulders, and my heart… My heart just went kerthump.
Somewhere after the start of this conversation, but before he got peas stuck up both nostrils, Elliot realized that girls might not be so bad, since– you know– mom’s one.
**My mom kept many of my old childhood books. Everybody Knows That by Susan Pearson, originally written in 1978, remains one of my favorite feminist tomes.