Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sexism In The Play Place?

This afternoon we went to the "play place" as Sofia likes to call it. It's a cute play area at a local mall and it's got all kinds of fun structures for little kids to climb over (and pick up all kinds of nasty viruses, no doubt) with a colorful, spongy floor that you just kind of bounce off of if you should fall down while playing. The kids love to go there and E and I had some things we needed to get, so I brought the kids over while E finished up some shopping.

It wasn't too crowded, all the kids seemed to be having a good time and it's always a kick to see how my kids interact with other little ones, especially since they're not in day care and don't play with other children on a daily basis. Both my kids observe other children very closely and like to hang back and see what they're doing. Then they decide whether or not to join in. Sofia was waiting to climb into a giant tunnel, but there was a little boy, perhaps a few months younger than her sitting just inside the entrance. They just sort of stared at one another for a while, waiting to see what the other would do. Finally, Sofia stretched out her arm and extended her pointer finger and gave the boy a silent "beep" on the nose, as if she were honking the world's smallest horn. The boy appeared surprised, but pleasantly so. His parents, who were watching the whole scene, erupted in laughter. It was pretty cute.

David had a little encounter with the opposite sex as well. He has just worked his way through the hopscotch with great, bounding leaps (while counting in Spanish, no less- and yes, I am bragging) and skipped over to a giant duck that he began climbing up. A little girl, maybe a year older than him, was climbing up the opposite side and they both met at the top, face to face. David smiled at her and the girl got this weird, angry kind of look on her face and said out loud: "I don't like you! You're a boy!"

David's face fell and he quickly climbed down and came over to the seat where I had been watching from. He snuggled up against me and I thought for a minute he might cry, but I think he was too stunned. I don't know what the little girl's deal was, but I was concerned more about the effect it had on David. I explained to him that I didn't know why she said that, but that it had nothing to do with him, but trying to explain "it's nothing personal" to a 3-year old is tricky. Then I said that maybe a boy had been mean to her once and she thinks all boys are mean. David seemed to favor that explanation. Then I thought for a second and said, "Or maybe she's just very rude, in which case you don't want to play with her anyway."

He shook the whole incident off fairly quickly and went back to playing with Sofia and some other kids that were cool. The little girl with the attitude went on to harass another child while her Dad tried in vain to teach her some manners.

It's hard to watch your kids go through things like this and I know it's just the beginning. David is especially sensitive and I know we're going to have lots of these kinds of talks in the future. I just hope we can instill in him confidence, patience, love and forgiveness, especially for those who hurt him.

And maybe a few witty come-back lines. Just in case all else fails.

<< Home


Post a Comment