I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Pink is for Girls and Blue is for Boys…NOT!
There’s an ongoing “discussion” in my classroom lately. It’s more of an argument really and it happens several times a week. Every morning my preschoolers, most of whom have turned 4 over the course of the school year, come into my room and sit with me at the table and do what I call “seat work” I have the children start their day off quietly working on something at the table until everyone has arrived. This allows them to practice using their communication skills while they chat. As they begin to finish their work and turn it in to me I allow them to pick something from the play area and play freely for a while. There are dishes, dolls, building blocks of various types, a big barn, animals, race cars; you name it it’s on the shelf. Several weeks ago one of the little girls in the room directed her attention to the barn sitting in the middle of a couple of the boys who were already playing. As she sat down one of them told her quite abruptly that she could not play with them because the barn was for boys. Unsure of what to say to him, she immediately and quite loudly called across the room “Ms. Karla, they won’t let me play because I am a girl!” With my feathers slightly ruffled I intervened and explained to everyone that girls can play with barns and boys can play with dishes. Several times since then the same “discussion” has popped up during free play and each time I explain to the class that there are no such thing as “boys toys” and “girls toys” and that we can all play with everything in the room. To drive my point home the other day when it seemed that my point was not getting across I instructed everyone to stay in their seats until everyone was finished with their work. After everyone was finished, I picked out the toys for free play and directed my students where to play; and yes, I sent the girls to the barn and race cars and the boys were sent to the baby dolls and dishes. And yes, everyone had a good time.
Why is it that in society today we still have the notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys? I happen to love the color blue and wear it way more often than pink. And I don’t think my own daughter has had the color pink on her body since she was four years old (she is almost 19) and that does not make she or I less of a “girl” because we do not like pink and lace. Society tends to push the idea that boys who play with dishes are too feminine and girls who play with trucks are tomboys. The notion that there are gender specific jobs, colors, toys, etc., boggles my mind. Gone are the days of the June Cleaver stay at home mom who cooks and cleans all day long. Today we have women who work hard labor jobs and men who have chosen to be nurses, administrative assistants or even stay at home dads. I have a friend who is a stay at home dad while his wife works outside of the home. He cooks, cleans, grocery shops, volunteers at school. It’s what works for them and he is teaching his two young sons a great lesson.
My family spends a lot of time at a local Christian camp where my daughter works as a senior counselor and my husband and I serve on the board of directors. One of the things we learned early on is that there are no “boy” or “girl” jobs. EVERYONE carries their own weight and EVERYONE must learn to do everything including sweeping and mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, making their own beds, building camp fires, cooking, taking care of campers who throw up in the middle of the night, baiting their own fish hooks; you name it they do it. The idea is that everyone is capable of doing whatever it takes to function as a community. One of my daughter’s favorite gifts for camp was her pocket knife. She carries it in her pocket and uses it for all kinds of things. I’ve seen her cut a fishing worm in half to bait a hook, wipe it off on her pants and use it for whittling the end off an old stick to roast marshmallows. Oh and then there’s the lighter she carries with her to start fires. Many parents would cringe at the thought of their daughter carrying around a knife and a lighter, but for her it works. It does not make her less of a girl because she knows how to do these things.
Parents need to instill the idea of individuality in their children instead of stereotyping them into categories. Allowing our children to explore the world around them and become the person that they want to be is often difficult. Wanting our children to live the lives that we think is best for them is not fair. As hard as it is to let go, we must. Teaching our children to become their own unique self is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. If your child loves art, then allow him/her to create artistically. If your child loves the outdoors, then allow them to explore and learn about nature. If your child enjoys cooking, then buy them an apron and let them create culinary masterpieces. Focus on your child and their uniqueness not on the idea that life is gender specific. After all some of the world’s best chefs are men and now there’s even a woman driving in NASCAR! Love your child for who they are and not what you or society thinks they should become.
Also, please visit Karla’s Lifetime Moms page and read her articles.