Thursday, November 27, 2003

Feminist Children

Feminist Children
Stacey Greenberg

I want to raise my children to be a free thinkers and to challenge gender stereotypes and cultural expectations of how boys and girls should act. I want my son to be well-versed on women’s issues as well as world issues, not as seen on TV by mainstream media. I am still figuring out how to do this. Luckily, I have some great women to learn from in my very own community. My mama friends are raising their sons in ways our mothers may have never imagined. Two of my role models happen to own their own businesses and they are both dedicated mothers who involve their children in their careers.

Katy operates Midtown Infant and Childcare out of her home. On any given day, she takes care of anywhere from 5 to 9 children. She makes it seem easy and there is no doubt that she enjoys (almost) every minute of it. She started the business eight years ago after the birth of her son, Everett. Everett is in school now, but spends time at the daycare in the afternoons and in the Summer when he is not busy doing his own thing. I have seen Everett eagerly play with the smaller children, carry my son around pretending he is his little brother, and Katy has told me that Everett patiently encouraged my son to eat his entire serving of spinach one afternoon. Yesterday after work, I was hanging out at Katy’s watching Satchel in action and talking to her about books and new movies coming out. Everett came in to say hello and quickly informed us that the plastic pickle in Satchel’s mouth was a choking hazard. We stopped our conversation, both surprised and proud, and laughed. I thought that was so incredibly cool and I had to stop myself from giving Everett a big hug.

Kristy opened Mothersville after giving birth to her third child last year. Mothersville caters to new and expecting moms and is a haven for breastfeeding women throughout the city. I often spend Saturday afternoons hanging out at Mothersville with Satchel. There is a great play area, comfy sofas, cold water, hot tea, great reading materials, and other mamas and children. Kristy’s three kids (Calvin, 5; Joshua, 2; and Somerset, eleven months) are often at the store. One afternoon, I sat listening to Kristy describe several nursing bras, pads, and pumps to a customer who was pregnant with her first child. Kristy spared no detail and provided the woman with a wealth of information regarding nursing, pumping, and leakage. All the while, Somerset was in a sling, and Calvin and Joshua played nearby. I’m sure Kristy has provided the same information to many other pregnant women on many different occasions. She joked that when it came to breastfeeding, her sons would soon be experts. She’s right. Instead of picking up useless information from the TV by osmosis, they are learning valuable information about breasts. Damn, that is cool too.

I want Satchel to spend as much time as possible with Everett, Calvin, Joshua, and Somerset. These are some cool kids. And the more time he spends with them, the more time I get to spend with their cool mamas. We all win.

Who are your kids playing with?

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