This afternoon I went to pick up the boys from preschool/day-care. On Tuesdays they are currently attending the same centre which is a different one from the one that the older one goes to on Thursdays and Fridays, but my wife picked up a shift on Tuesdays and a spot wasn’t available so we went with another. Also the little one’s day-care is only open from Wednesday to Friday so that didn’t work out. As of the following Tuesday a place has opened for the older one to go back to his other preschool where all his friends are so he is mighty pleased. And so am I. Well at least I was when this was organised last week, but after what I witnessed today, I sort of wish he was remaining in this centre.
Each time I go to pick up the boys from this centre I get accosted by the older group of kids (that’s the ones aged from 4 years old to 5 years old). They love to call out to me, tell me random stories and instead of dismissing them I sit or kneel down and discuss things with them.
A few weeks back one of the girls asked what our younger son’s name was; he was hanging off my hip after picking him up from the toddler room before moving through to the older kids’ room. After I told her his name she asked me why he was named that. I told her that kids have to be called something and that naming your child is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Of course she wasn’t satisfied with my response so she asked again. I can’t remember what I told her, but I think she was either satisfied or bored and the conversation ended there.
When I turned up today, the older kids were outside sitting at the tables having some afternoon snacks while one of the carers was watering the lawn. One of the kids saw a rainbow in the spray from the hose and yelled out “EXCUSE ME… I CAN SEE A RAINBOW…” It. Was. Loud. He continued to tell everyone that there was a rainbow in the water coming from the hose. I was impressed. So I asked the group if they knew why this was the case. The carer standing in ear shot from me had a puzzled look on her face. So I asked them if they had been taught about light refraction. Now the kids all looked puzzled. I guess they will learn that in high school, or when they stumble upon the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover in their parent’s collection. Maybe…
Then I noticed one of the girls wearing a Spiderman hat.
“I like your Spiderman hat.”
“I am Spiderman,” she replied.
“That’s ni…” but before I could get my words out one of the boys interrupted.
“You can’t be Spiderman. You’re a girl.”
“She can so be Spiderman,” I shot back at him. “Girls can be anything they wa…” but before I could finish THAT sentence another little girl stood on her chair and at the top of her voice proclaimed;
“GIRLS CAN BE ANYTHING WE LIKE.”
Wow, she was like a little Rose Schneiderman (and it’s funny how Schneiderman and Spiderman rhyme and I didn’t think of that when starting out writing this post).
“GIRLS CAN BE SPIDERMAN. GIRLS CAN BE SUPERMAN. GIRLS CAN BE….” I had to stop her for fear of her starting a riot.
Again I looked over at the carer and this time she looked back at me and told me that they have wild discussions about everything.
“Like politics and religion?” I asked, really wanting to add sex and money into the mix, but…
“Oh, everything…” she added “…and she’s the most vocal of the lot,” she continued pointing at little Miss Schneiderman.
I fear that the boy who made the accusation that girls cannot be Spiderman might be raised to have this prejudice against women. I don’t want to sound racist, but his background is from a country and possibly a cultural or religious group that is trapped somewhere in the past with the whole equality thing.
But even though I point out that this boy may be from a “backwards” culture, the little girl standing up for her rights was also from that or a similar culture. That is to say, I don’t want to say that everyone who comes from countries on the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the island country of Sri Lanka) are simply Indian as many people say all Asians are Chinese, but we have a predominantly Indian and Sri Lankan population in our area with most being from India itself. So we cannot tar all of those from a culture as being left behind; there must be some that teach their children above how the Free or Western World thinks (well at least those who I mingle with and respect).
I wish that equality was taught in schools. In so many ways I am lucky that I have boys so I don’t have to tell them they can’t be this and they can’t be that, but then again, there will come a time when one may want to do ballet, or theatre or gymnastics, or other activities that are deemed very feminine for a boy to be doing. But if they want to do it, well I will support them.
So with Halloween around the corner I am sure that there won’t be any little girls dressing up as Rose Schneiderman, but I hope there are a few who break the shackles and decide that they are more a Spiderman girl than a Disney Princess.