This morning I read about the controversy surrounding GoDaddy pulling its Super Bowl ad because of a kerfuffle about puppy mills and animal cruelty. Which of course, is something we should all be concerned about, yes, yes. I hear you. But what bothers me about this, whether it’s actually true or just a GoDaddy-staged publicity stunt is that while you can get this kind of action for the rights and dignity of animals, you can’t really say the same thing about the rights and dignity of women. Seriously, just try complaining about the objectification of women in ads like the ones for
Carl’s Jr. or any of the other myriad Super Bowl ads, or almost any ad (one of my favorites is the one where the guy is watching the game on his phone under the table because obviously it’s more interesting than anything his woman has to say from across it…but I digress…) for that matter, and you won’t hear anything about the ad being pulled for a reason like that. If anything, what you will hear is the sound of crickets chirping.
I could go on, but that ‘s not really the story I wanted to tell you. No, this is a story about parenting. A story about how I would like for my boys to grow up understanding that women are human beings, not slaves or sex objects, and that the way women are portrayed in the media has an immediate effect on how men view them in the real world. And I made my point, in the car on the way to school this morning, by relating it to Congress’s recent refusal to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and the fact that women in the United States of America on average earn seventy-eight cents for every dollar that a man earns, even if they are doing the same jobs with the same amount of experience. It’s 2015. The 21st century. The new year came and everyone was bitching about how we weren’t getting the hoverboards that Back to the Future II had promised us. I’d just be happy if they gave us the 22 cents. I mean, can you imagine what would happen if people whined more about pay inequity than they do about the injustice of not getting hoverboards??
But again, I digress…I’m a stay-at-home mom. Basically, as I’ve said before, that means I am a cook, a laundress, a chauffeur, a judge, jury and jailor, janitor, a pet sitter, a nurse, a cop, a safety monitor, a teacher, a gardener, a comptroller, head of purchasing, a cruise-director, appointment secretary, and all-around shit-doer. So when I mentioned to my sons this problem of the pay gap, I was a bit incensed when the one in the back seat said, “Yeah, but you don’t work.”
That’s right. He said it. After asking me this morning where he might find his freshly laundered gym uniform, and then packing the lunch I had prepared for him into his backpack, this son of mine had the stones (though admittedly not the brains) to say to me, “But you don’t work.”
But the funny part was that he had said this as we were pulling into the parking lot of his school, and not a minute later, he realized that he had actually left his gym uniform back at home. “Can you bring it to me before 8:30?” he asked. (This was at 7:50, and I still had his brother to drop off at another school.)
“But, Clooney,” I said, “I don’t work.”
It’s Spirit Week at Edison’s school, and the theme for today is “Dress to Impress.” Yesterday was “Wear Orange” (It had something to do with an anti-bullying campaign), and Monday was “Dress like a Twin Day.” Edison pulled out his spiffiest duds for today’s occasion. Unfortunately, these include the sport jacket that he wore for his First Holy Communion four years ago. They are a size 8, and he is a firm 12-almost-14. I tried to dissuade him, to tell him that he looked silly, but then an argument began, and I thought, you know what, if he were The Princess, I would have given up at the first protestation. If she’s taught me anything, it’s to pick my battles, and what you are wearing is not worth fighting. So I let him go, even though he kind of looked like this:
Just hoping some of that anti-bullying rhetoric stuck to the ruffians in his middle school population yesterday.
This week Clooney had a geography project due, and he chose to do a Power Point presentation. I’m not much of a helicopter parent, so I let them do their thing and then give it a check the night before it’s due.
Going through his slides, I noticed that he hadn’t done a lot of in-depth research. On the slide marked “EVENTS” for example, he had listed two. One was the Fête de la Musique, which is a music festival that features free concerts from all genres, though I had to help him fill in those details. Then there was something called Marché des Fiertés, so I asked him what that was. He had no clue, claiming to have just pulled things off the Internet through Google. So I did a little research myself. Turns out that it was the Parisian Gay Pride Parade. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it might be easier for him to field questions from the class about the Tour de France, so I suggested that he just go with that instead.
Clooney began collecting Silly Bandz this summer. I cannot say when these things first put their rubbery feet through our door, but it built and built until he amassed a gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of them. I don’t buy them; he gets them at parties or at camp, and he’s been known to spend his allowance on them, at least until the Series 2 LEGO mini-figures were released a few weeks ago. But his eyes still get all glassy when he sees them in a store. The combinations of shapes, colors and other features (i.e. glow in the dark, tie-dyed, or sparkly) continue to mesmerize him whenever we pass a rack of them. And they are EVERYWHERE.
I have allowed it without encouraging it, because he’s into it, and because ultimately they are no more harmful than collecting baseball cards (though not as intellectually appealing), but I was a little disturbed yesterday when he came home and showed me two new ones on his wrist.
“Guess where I got these,” he began proudly. “Lucy and Gina dropped their Silly Bandz on the floor at lunch, and a bunch of people picked them up and I got these two!”
“What do you mean??” I asked, highly concerned.
It happened, just as I had thought. Six kids swooped in and stole the girls’ Silly Bandz off the floor. You always imagine that your child will be Superman, or the hero, the one who steps in and tells the others that what they are doing, if what they are doing, is not the right thing. So, I was more than a little shocked when not only didn’t my son do that, but he was also an eager participant in the crime. He and I had a long talk about what it meant, and how I saw the situation, and I hoped that he understood that what he had done was wrong and why. I tried to make him feel empathy for Lucy and Gina, and he promised to return the bracelets, but I wonder what he really learned. Did he learn that it’s wrong to do what he did, or did he just learn that it’s wrong to share stuff like that with Mom?
It’s a fine line. How do you teach kindness and morality, right and wrong, without choking the open line of communication between parent and child? Obviously, he’s never seen Manfrengensen or me take something that doesn’t belong to us, so it’s not a learn-by-example situation. I can only imagine that it will get tougher as he gets older and the pressure to really fit in plays a factor.
Have you had any experience with this kind of thing? Please share below if you have. Thanks.