More Than a Princess
I love to listen to my kids talk about what they are going to be when they grow up.
My boys read books about firetrucks and want to be firemen. They build things out of their tinkertoys and want to be architects. They see their daddy speak in front of a congregation and they want to be pastors.
My daughter wants to be a princess. She also wants to be a mom. I would love for her to be a mom. I love to hear her talk about wanting two babies, a boy and a girl, just like her and her twin brother. I feel good that I’m doing something right if she considers my main occupation to be something she would like to be.
But I also want her to know she can be a scientist. She can be an engineer. She can be a doctor.
In addition to knowing the story of Rapunzel, I want her to know the story of Grace Hopper. Grace was a pioneer in the field of computer science and conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first computer programming languages. I understand about 25% of that sentence but I want her to know that she can learn to understand all of that sentence if she wants to.
I want to teach her about Rachel Carson who’s attention to environmental concerns led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her writings about the dangers of pesticides helped changed the culture of pesticide use and led to a national ban on the use of DDT. This ban is cited as a major reason for the comeback of the bald eagle and other nearly-extinct species.
I want her know the story of Marie Curie, the first person to earn nobel prizes in two different categories — Physics and Chemistry. She coined the term “radioactivity” and she discovered polonium and radium. Curie faced extreme obstacles, being a woman in her field, and had to work hard for respect among her peers.
I get that a children’s book about radioactivity might be a bit difficult to explain, but we have a book about Loius Pastuer and the discovery of microscopic germs. I’m sure someone somewhere could come up with a book about isolating radioactive isotopes that children could understand. If they made the cover pink, I’m sure my daughter would love it.
Raising child of both genders, my children are exposed to all types of toys. I’d like to believe my husband and I do a good job of fostering non-gender stereotyped play. My son has a doll that he’s more attached to than my daughter is to any of her dolls. Both of my sons enjoy cooking in our play kitchen. Every so often, I can encourage my daughter to help her brothers build a train track. But mostly she just wants to have tea parties with her Barbies and push her baby in a stroller.
In closing I leave you with this video. I first saw this in college while taking a seminar about children and media. My teacher showed us this SNL commercial. I found it hilarious. I now see the element of truth to this commercial. My daughter would totally rather play this version of chess than the other version. (If you don’t see a video below, here is a link to the website: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/chess-for-girls/1357683/)