What’s the saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same? I’ve talked before about gender roles and kids, specifically against raising them to have certain expectations for behavior. I hate the whole strict pink and blue “teams”. If a boy wants a doll, I dig it. If a girl wants a dump truck or, even better, a dinosaur, make it so. If a girl decides on her own that she likes the whole princess thing, then away we go. That being said, I do have a rather hypocritical set of roles/tasks set up in my household. I even acknowledge this by calling what Will does “man work.” I am OK with doing the lion’s share of the cooking, inside cleaning, and laundry. He is in charge of fixing stuff, yard stuff (other than my flower beds), and anything electronic- or car-related. For the record, I DO pump my own gas. What can I say? I’m older and wiser than Stella and BY, and there will simply be instances where “do as I say not as I do” is allowed and appropriate. All that being said, there ARE plenty of exceptions to this around our household.
I can remember the opening scene of the movie Contact, where there is a depiction of radio waves going out into space, the sounds and media getting progressively older the farther out they go. Based on a whole lot of what I witness in today’s children’s programming and DVDs, if ET were to land tomorrow in the mother ship, he would think that all daddies did was come home from work in a tie carrying a briefcase and then play catch with their son in the backyard. There is a whole lot of catch being played. All mommies do is cook and serve food. A lot of food.
In and of itself, I have no problem with this. Kids need to be played with and they need to be fed. I don’t profess to be athletic. If our kids end up wanting to play sports, my ability to coach them will be limited. Then again, the same goes for Will. But some occasional attempt to update parental imagery, I think, is useful. It DOES chap my backside that all the “play house” stuff seems to be marketed to girls/placed in the girls’ section of toy stores. I totally applaud that little girl that took on E-Z Bake so that her brother could have a non-pink oven. Most of the great chefs are male, for crying out loud. But yes, I did just buy Stella a toy broom and dustpan if only because thunderdome ensued each time I tried to sweep the kitchen as she tried to wrangle the broom for me. I’m proud to say she spends as much time riding or jousting with it as she does sweeping. Again, why not simply update some packaging??
How often do you really see old-school toy phones anymore on the shelves? You don’t. Now kids have their own play cell phones or smart phones. A phone with a cord is the equivalent of a bloody phonograph. I’ve been trying to read a potty training book, a supposed classic, Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. It’s from the early 70’s and is still a big seller amongst those thinking of fleeing diapers. And no, I’ve not been real diligent with this as I’m expecting some regression once BY comes home, and nearly every reference says you ought to just hold off until everyone settles back down. There is an early section talking about how much of the mother’s time is spent per week diapering, cleaning stains, and washing children. I think the authors equate it to the equivalent of ¼ of a work week on diapers. They also indicate that if the mom has other children or “recreational desires,” it is a huge time vortex. Seriously? What about if mom has a JOB?
I guess what it boils down to is each parent should teach their kid skills based on their own expertise and proclivities. While I will likely teach the kids how to do a basic chop in the kitchen, it will be Will who teaches bread baking and cheese making. Will can teach them all sorts of computer skills and networking, but I’m the one who will teach them how to run Turbo Tax and file a return correctly. Who cares who teaches what as long as we’re teaching them what they need to know?