V comes up to me this morning and starts talking about school.
“Mommy I’m really getting fast at running, I ran past S and K when we had games period yesterday.”
“That’s great V but isn’t the running part more fun than the running past other children part?”
“Yup, I love running with you in the park mommy, and we run together. So, I loooooooove running. It’s almost like flying a bit. But mommy I can’t go faster than the boys you know. That’s okay coz A (my nephew) told me that boys are stronger than girls.”
That put me in a dilemma, I didn’t want to encourage competitiveness in a child not yet 5 years old, but I also didn’t want to leave her with the weaker gender idea. That’s when I had a
half-formed brain wave.
“V do you know far we run together at the park?”
“Yup 3 rounds?”
“Right and that’s one and a half kilometers darling. I’m sure no one in your class, boy or girl, runs that long and far.”
“I don’t know mommy. Their mommies don’t take them running so how will they know?”
Okay…… that was the second spanner in my works. Still, I decided to gamely plough on.
“Right, darling but here’s my point. See we are both girls and we are doing something nobody else in your class is doing, boy or girl. It doesn’t matter who’s stronger or weaker. All that we need to think about is this. Do we really want to do something? If we do, we keep doing it and enjoying it. After a while we will become the best at it. So the next time A or anyone else tells you that someone is stronger or weaker, tell them this. ‘The person who really wants to do something and enjoys it, is stronger and the person who doesn’t is weaker.'”
I don’t know if I got through to her this time or if the the idea was too convoluted. However, I’m making a promise on this Women’s Day to keep reminding myself, my daughter and my nieces that we can be and achieve whatever we want as long as we really want it and enjoy it. Gender is just a category like hair colour or height, it can’t affect who we are and what we choose to become. Yes, we’ll have a lot of battles to fight as women, but let’s win the one in our minds first.
P.P.S – It doesn’t matter if your little girl chooses to play a princess game or climb a tree. As long as she is confident in herself as an individual, she will make the right choices for herself.
P.P.P.S – Wow! I just realised (when I went to get the link to my first article) that today is this blog’s two year anniversary! I somehow missed the first one! Yay! Happy Anniversary to me.
Update: A couple of days back I found a new trophy in V’s prayer basket. She apparently won the girls running race for her LKG batch. That’s like first among 60 kids, I’m guessing the boy- girl ration is 50-50. Now I know where that boys being faster/stronger than girls discussion came from. It’s the school making them compete separately. She never mentioned winning and she just shrugged when I asked her about it!
Photo Credit: Image 1