This morning, I was loading the puppies and kids into the Mommy-mobile before school and Bock was straggling behind Shiner so he started this really pitiful high-pitched whining. When I got him in the car, I heard the kids talking about how he “whined like a girl.” So, of course, I had to “impart wisdom” to them and dissect why they would say that. (Keep in mind, I’ve been guilty of this before many times….When one of the guys on my volleyball team hits the ball too lightly, I have been one to suggest that next time he “hit it with his purse.”) But I’m getting more sensitive to the fact that women struggle with self-image so much and we aren’t helping it when we use references to females as being weak or bad or undesirable. (You know what I’m talking about here: like a girl, don’t be a p—-, man-up, or grow a pair….that doesn’t mean ovaries!) In all of these examples, being a guy is good and being a gal is bad. I know that I personally struggled with God over this issue for a while until I learned that I was also an image-bearer. I was angry at him for creating me with “fewer opportunities” because he made me female instead of male. So, I immediately saw this as a “teachable moment” with my kids and proceeded to discuss it with them. After my long soliloquy was over, Caleb looked at me and said “I don’t think girls are weak…I only meant that his voice was higher-pitched… kind of like most of the girls I know.” Hmmm…ok….I might have jumped the gun on that one…just a tad…afterall, this is the kid that thinks I can conquer anything because his mommy is “an in-ja!” (translation: ninja.) This is the same kid that wants to be like me and is taking Tae Kwon Do too.
So, as usual, this got me crunching on this topic. Why did I jump to conclusions on that? Why was I so sensitive to it? Why now? I know there have been things going around on the internet about this topic, and if I’m totally honest (which is basically all you can ever expect from me) I never read any of them or watched them or whatever you were supposed to do. (I’m a slow reader and tend to only read the Bible or to be entertained…I’m not wired to learn that way…I have to touch and feel and experience and interact in order to learn something.) So, if that’s not where I got it, where did I get it? Well, Michaela is reaching a tender age where she is just beginning to experience self-doubt, notice how she is different from other kids, question whether or not she is liked, wonder if boys think she is pretty, and is experiencing God-awful hormonal surges that are leaving the entire family un-balanced. (Get used to that one little girl…it’s not settling down anytime soon!) Maybe it’s his age, but Caleb isn’t going through that yet…and I’ve never been male…obviously…so there is a void in my experience as to whether or not he ever will.
So, I think that Michaela’s recent changes combined with my obvious baggage has me jumping at opportunities to correct it for the next generation…or maybe assuming that it needs to be whether or not that is actually true. I think that what I am getting from this is:
1. Soapboxes are really only useful for packaging soap…not so much for interacting with actual humans.
2. My baggage doesn’t need to be imparted on my daughter. Praise God that she doesn’t have the same doubt in his goodness that I had for a while.
3. Everyone (probably) experiences self-doubt and awkwardness. I can not avoid this for my precious girl. What I can do is share my experiences (when appropriate) and be a safe place for her to question and process.
4. Even though it is only elementary school, it is a scary world for our kids to go out into. I need to make sure that I am modeling good self-talk and good pursuit of Biblical truth at home with them so that they can learn how to find truth on their own.
5. I need to spend more time listening to my kids and less time talking “at” them. They are really incredible and if I become half the people they are, I’ll be doing pretty awesome.
So, I don’t know if this musing was actually for any of you or not this time. It might be just for me. But just in case, how are you doing with this? Do you use phrases that demean any groups of people? How do those phrases line up with the gospel? How do those thoughts and phrases affect other people? Do you have soapboxes that you should be stepping down off of? Are their people in your life that you think you should “impart wisdom” to? Are you consequently missing opportunities to learn from them? Did you get something all together different out of this?
Praying you are all able to grow and learn from others today. Much love,