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Friday, November 18, 2005

Flat Tire

Yesterday morning we were running late. Tom had to leave early for a meeting, so I was trying to herd the proverbial cats and make their lunch, and write an e-mail, and get dressed myself in time to catch a train to work. So of course it was the day Megan couldn’t find anything to wear, and Luke couldn’t stop himself from distracting her until I yelled at him, at which point he cried and called me a meanie. We finally got in the car at 8:00 which is pretty much the last minute we can leave and still make it to school before they start giving out tardy notes. So when the car finally started rolling and I heard a dull grinding sound, I tried to ignore it for several seconds. By the end of the block, however, I accepted we had a flat tire and pulled over.

Luke started crying: “Mamma, I’m scared! What’s going to happen?!” You’d think the car had burst into flames. I assured him that a flat tire was not dangerous and that we would just have to find another way to school. (My friend Miriam rescued us. Thank goodness I finally succumbed to a cell phone.) When I got home from class I changed the tire, which I admit took me awhile since I haven’t changed a tire in many years and had to check the owner’s manual to make sure I was putting the jack in the right spot. Still, it wasn’t too hard. But here’s the kicker: when Luke saw me after school he asked, “Is the tire fixed?” And when he heard I had changed it, he said, “You changed it yourself? Without Daddy’s help?” I’m not sure if his expression registered admiration or skepticism. When I put my hands on my hips indignantly, he laughed.

So today I’m thinking about gender stereotypes and wishing I had taught both the kids how to change a flat, even though neither of them will be getting the car keys any time soon. Still, it’s sooner than I realize. Last night Megan asked (with an expression of disgust) if she would really grow body hair someday. I said yes, but don’t worry, it won’t be for about ten more years. Then I realized that wasn’t true. She’s almost nine. In ten years she’ll probably be a freshman in college and, if she’s succumbed to peer pressure, will already be shaving her body hair. Yikes.

After they both went to bed, I turned on the TV for a minute and saw the preview of a show about an anorexic ten-year-old. That wasn’t the bed time relaxation I needed, so I turned off the anxiety box and lit my candle for the day. What came to mind was a strong urge to appreciate the age the children are right now, old enough to reason with but young enough to play around with. I thought of how silly they were yesterday after school, and what a flat tire I often am, easily irritated by their silliness, unable to roll with it. So when Luke climbed into my bed this morning and started pretending that his fingers were rats, I pretended to be a hungry snake while he giggled, wide-eyed. The rest of the morning went much smoother than yesterday so we were actually at school by 8:00.


Anonymous Stephanie said...

Oh don't ya hate it when you yell and get called on it? I find it so hard not to try to justify my behavior in the heat of those moments. I'm trying to teach them to control their behavior in the face of strong emotion, then I go making excuses for my own behavior. Sigh. I'm getting better about this though. Raising children provides nearly endless opportunities for spiritual growth, doesn't it?

I also relate to your worries about gender stereotypes, especially since as a homeschooling family, we have chosen more traditional gender roles within the family. My husband works outside the home and I don't. I'm primarily responsible for the care of the home, although he helps out some and is a very active and involved father.

When we see people who are going against gender stereotype (female construction workers, stay at home dads, etc.), I go out of my way to point them out. I'm grateful that our Friends Meeting has a diversity of role models as well. I'm happy with my choices, but I want my kids to grow up knowing they have a wide range of options. I do make sure to mow the lawn now and then, and the kids got to watch me jack up our van this summer when I backed over the tricycle and got it so jammed underneath that we couldn't move either way. Since I'd never used a jack before, I was pretty proud of myself, but I didn't let on that it was anything but all in a day's work. ;o)

8:57 AM  
Blogger Anjali said...

I loved this entry. I've been reading your blog for a little while and I always look forward to each entry.

10:54 AM  

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