Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lulu's Future?

During a recent conversation, The Grandpa mentioned that he had considered commenting on my post about Mini-Me and the Vacuum. What he thought about saying, I believe, was, "So what are you teaching Lulu about women's roles?" I believe he was implying that, by vacuuming and encouraging her to imitate me, I was limiting her as a female. After some thought, I decided I'd like to respond.

Lulu, even at 2, is one of the most empowered females I know. She has such control over her environment and is already learning already knows how to manipulate it. Whether it's the people around her or the situations she is in or the tools she is using, Lulu knows how to work it. While most of her influence comes from being very smart and very aware, some of it comes from simply being female, from being adorably female.

She has an effect on people that I hadn't witnessed before her. Everyone is drawn to her. As a baby, she would use this by searching a room full of strangers for the one person she was certain would play with her and engage that person, while seated securely on my lap. She would have total strangers, from children to teenagers to moms to old men, playing peek-a-boo before they knew what had hit them, before I had even noticed them. Now, when we are out somewhere, strangers are still taken in by her. Servers at restaurants, other people's grandpas, children at Pete's school, and others have stopped what they were doing to "play" with her or to simply comment on how cute/sweet/adorable she is. Pete is often overlooked, which concerns me, but that's another post...

Lulu is aware that she is a girl and that that makes her different from people like, for example, her dad, and that those other people who are not girls have their own bathroom. She is also aware that she is young and that people who are older than she is can do things she can't do (she says, "When my grow up, my have vitamins!"). Beyond that, though, I don't think she is too concerned yet with what anyone else can do that she can't.

When she does become concerned about it, she has many examples of strong women around her in roles that were traditionally considered "Man's Work." Her doctor is a woman. Pete's principal is a woman. Although, I admit, not as often, she sees men doing "Woman's Work," too. HG cleans the kitchen and vacuums, as do you. He changed her diapers and puts her to bed. We meet lots of dads volunteering at Pete's school. She also sees women doing traditionally female things, but I don't think this is to her detriment.

For me to tell her at any stage in her life that what she is doing is or is not "Woman's Work" isn't exactly my place. It is my place to help her to become a strong woman, whatever she chooses to do and to teach her that there really isn't such thing as "Woman's Work" or "Man's Work." As her mom I can guide her away from situations that are dangerous and even block her way when necessary, but vacuuming isn't one of those situations (HG might disagree...).

1 comment:

the grandpa said...

Whoa. Hold on a minute. I'll make a fuller response on The Word Mechanic blog in a few days, because I think you raise several great points. Although, I'm not sure they're always on target. For instance the fact that people notice Lulu and you think Pete is often overlooked says nothing about either one of them being a strong female or being they're own person. I think both of them truly are and fit those descriptions each in their own indivdual way. But childhood, as wonderful as it is, is fraught with potholes and other dangers. It's tough to be a parent and simply let your kids be who they are. Which brings me to my second point.

My inquiry about what you were teaching Lulu was to a large extent in jest. Not that I didn't think it is an important question to consider seriously. But you and HG seem to be doing pretty good.

Look for my expanded answer on The Word Mechanic.

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