International Men's Day (November 19th)
Eliza will be 1 year old on March 8th. The woman I have become friends with at the post office, who I see when we walk to school every morning, and whose son goes to the same after school care as Franklin, is from Eastern Europe. When she learned that Eliza’s birthday falls on this day she jumped out of her seat and congratulated me.
Apparently, March 8th is International Woman’s Day – celebrated everywhere else but here. In fact, it is a bloody holiday in many parts of Europe. You’d be stretched to find anything more than a calendar marking this celebration in this part of the world.
When I told Franklin about Eliza’s birthday being the same day as when many people in the world celebrate women he got quite silent. After a little while he asked me if the world celebrates men. He even had tears welling up in his eyes when he asked me about this.
Turns out that yes, they do have an International Men’s Day. I told him that he was right to ask about that – we want to celebrate everyone. However, I was concerned about how worried he was that there may not be a celebration.
I’m not sure why this is, but I worry more about Franklin’s emotional strength than Eliza’s. I see Eliza, 11 months old, as made of firmer stuff. Perhaps Franklin is my first born and this is why I’m more protective. Or perhaps it’s because he’s only just started public school and Lord Love a Duck that can do a number on one’s self-esteem. Or perhaps I just see the world around me as a little less friendly to men right now.
I’m not saying men don’t get a hell of a lot of opportunity and privilege, but the cost seems too high. School seems to tell them to “sit down” and “be calm”. The media seems to tell them that they have to be stronger, faster and have bigger light labers/guns/muscles.
Franklin seems to be lucky in that his classroom is very activity based and a lot of work is by demonstration and hands on learning. His kindergarten was even more geared this way. Will this start to decrease as school becomes less about play and more about learning? What about the teachers? Why are they always women? His after school care teachers are men but the likelihood of having a elementary school teacher as a male is extremely low. Women teachers… female activities? We sat down and talked with Franklin’s teacher the other day and she has two grown sons – she knows all about Star Wars. She’s trying to learn about Bakugan at the moment but “the learning curve is steep…” I think we got a really great teacher with her. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make a difference, like the acceptance that boys don’t sit still.
Where are the images of men who are smart or caring or community minded? It’s all about the talent with a light saber or how many goals you can shoot. Are we looking up to Harry Potter because he tries hard at school? Nope. Hermione Granger works hard but Harry’s just… what? Gifted? Determined? Just? Those are good but where are the heroes who like school? We followed Prehistoric Park’s Nigel Marven for a good while because of his “way with dinosaurs” but they aren’t promoting “school is awesome” – more like, “time travel is cool!” Which IS cool and does require school, but still… why we have to read into the heroes to get this information?
I’m fascinated with a certain behaviour that Franklin and his friends have begun – the “who’s got the most” “who’s the fastest” “who’s knows more about “Star Wars / Pokemon / Bakugan”. What is this competition about? It’s not like they gain anything from any of it. No one is taking score at the end of the week. It’s only that at that particular moment, there seems to be a test of… I don’t know. It’s only about accumulation of mystical points. When we are alone, we talk about how important it is to be good at other things like friendship, empathy, care for the environment, and care for his family. He knows this and understands it but when he’s with his friends he seems to get sidetracked. Can a male explain this to me?
Am I making sense?
I’m just babbling here. Seriously, I’m just writing off the top of my head and I’ll probably wake up at 4 tomorrow morning thinking about all the silly things I’ve written here but really… has anyone else with boys thought about this? Am I insane?