Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanks, gender politics! I've always wanted to trash a Wal-mart.

(Sofia with my Minecraft torch, waiting for the bus)

Two things about me


1) I hate Wal-mart.
2) I hate the idea that toys need to be gender-oriented.


You know: the idea that boys can't play with dolls and girls can't play with tools. Or, even worse, that it's okay for girls to play with tools, because, hey, girls can be anything (!), but that boys can't play with dolls, because, why would you want to do "girl stuff?"


It's wrong to say that kids can't play how they want to play. Outside of the sexual politics that we should leave completely out of the lives of children, it's also a major problem for both boys and girls. The boy problems are more than I wanna get into here. The girl problems are easier to talk about.


The simpler problem on the girl side of things is that when you call toys "boy/girl toys," you're saying that girls have certain roles especially for them, and that if they step outside of that, they are behaving like boys.


This is how you get income inequality, people. When you start at the moment they are born teaching children that certain roles are for boys, it is a logical conclusion to pay women less than men for the same job. Because you've taught that women do man things are outside of their lane, and it then follows that they women won't be as good as men at man things, and therefore it's okay to pay them less.


That's wrong.


The more difficult problem on the girls side of the toy problem is that even if you are proud of yourself for saying, "Hey, you can be a construction worker or a soldier or anything you want to, because you're just as good as boys," you're being hypocritical and completely contradicting yourself if you also say, "Tommy, I don't want you playing with that doll/kitchen/pink thing."


Because then you're saying that homemaking is only for girls. What you're saying is that of course everyone wants to do boy stuff, and should be able to do boy stuff, because BOY STUFF IS AWESOME. But girl stuff is lesser than. Girl stuff is weaker. Girl stuff is easier. Girl stuff is inferior.


I made the mistake of going into a Wal-mart yesterday. I was in a rush and it was the only option in the area for the three things I need to do. One of those things I needed to do was buy a cheap gift for Sofia. I thought of some little Minecraft action figures that don’t cost much and that she always asks for when we see them. SHE IS ALL ABOUT MINECRAFT. So is her cousin Kate, who is nine. So are millions of kids right now. I couldn’t find the toys, so I asked a Wal-mart employee. A woman. A woman who is statistically unlikely to make as much as her male counterparts, even in somewhere as awful as Wal-mart, where you would expect that every employee is treated equally horribly.


“They’re in the next aisle over. With the boy toys.”


As if Sofia and Kate are somehow outside of their roles as girls in wanting to build stuff. As if they’re not girls because they like a video game.

I’ve always wanted to trash a Wal-mart out of anger. This was a great chance. But I needed to go to work.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nadia's progress report for her two months in the school system is here! I'm posting it in this blog entry to show others who worry about the process, partly because of starting at zero familiarity.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014.05.19 Una Elementary School tour, Nadia bus issues, ENT appt., Dragon Park, The TIck

UNA TOUR

Three Peaches took a tour of Una Elementary School while Nadia was in class at Glendale.

Sofia was very excited, and we were almost late because she was having fun taking photos on the stone dolphin and turtle in front of the school.

I discovered in the parking lot that my iPhone had stopped responding to touch, which meant that taking photos or videos was impossible. This means that there aren't nearly as many photos or videos as I'd intended.

Ms. Mohammad greeted us in the office, but seemed perturbed when we said that we came for a tour. Also, she was rather difficult to understand, which is rare for me. I almost never have so much difficulty understanding someone's accent that I can't fully get what they're saying, but it happened. Ms. Mohammad speaks English and two forms of Arabic. Many of the teachers and staff there are multi-lingual. We told Ms. Mohammad that we had an appointment, and she retrieved Mrs. Green, an assistant principal.

Mrs. Green came down the hall and seemed very excited to see us. She introduced Sofia to everyone.

We walked around the school peeking into different classrooms. Many of the kindergarten rooms had no people in them because the schedule had kindergartners in either art, music, or gym. The roioms all seemed very large and exciting. It was hard to gauge how Sofia was feeling about everything at that point. Sometimes she would hold Mrs. Green's hand as we walked.

Una is much larger than it looks from the street. It sprawls quite a bit like the part of town that hosts and populates it. We visited the gym, the cafeteria, the different specialty rooms like art, music, and gym. Most of the kids seemed very engaged. Una has quite a few portables, too.

When Mrs. Green spoke about accelerated reading programs, I asked about getting Sofia tested for those. Mrs. Green said that she will direct the lady in charge to me so that we can get started on it. Later in the evening, I proposed to Sofia the possibility of getting to go to special reading classes for kids who already read well, and that she should be very proud. Sofia then got very braggy about how other kids don't get to go to those classes, and I let her know that there is a difference between being proud of one's own achievements and being happy that others haven't done the same. I doubt she gets it yet, and I'm sure that it will come up again.

While walking through the halls, I heard someone whisper, "Hey Mr. Peach." I turned around and it was Kai, the older brother of Sofia's friend Brea! Good times.

Sofia's favorite place was clearly the library. It was mine, too. They were having an end-of-year sale, so we bought a weird pointer thing with a glow-in-the-dark skeleton hand, and a pencil. The librarians didn't have change for a five, or really any change, so we let them keep the rest. They said what Jessica and I already knew from the zoo gift shop, which was that kids aren't so good with figuring taxes, and that the librarians could use the extra funds to help pay for that. One of the librarians then suggested that we get another pencil, but we couldn't BECAUSE OF TAX. The other librarian looked at her with that "Really?" face. Funny.

It took me an hour to fix my phone at home.

NADIA BUS MADNESS

Around 10:30, while I resolving my phone issues, I called MNPS bus dispatch and told them to cancel Nadia's afternoon bus service. Then I called Glendale and asked the lady in the office to tell Ms. Lisa that we would be coming at noon to get Nadia.

When Sofia and I got to the school, we went in through the office to sign in. The office lady said we needed to fill out the early dismissal form sign-out sheet as opposed to the visitor sheet. I explained that Nadia wasn't getting out early, because she always leaves at noon. Office Lady was confused, but redirected us to the visitor sheet.

Sofia and I walked to Ms. Lisa's class. An assistant opened the door, looking surprised. I thought maybe she didn't recognize me from the week before.

"We're here to pick up Nadia!"

"Nadia gone already!"

Nadia was already on the bus home.

Sofia and I rushed back the the office to sign back out and get in the van, hoping to get home before Nadia did. Office Lady looked confused again.

"I called earlier! I told someone here in the office that we were coming to get Nadia! Who did I talk to?!?!"

"That was me."

"Did you not tell Ms. Lisa that we were coming?"

"No. I just figured you would sign her out when you got here."

"THEN WHAT DID YOU DO?"

"Nothing."

This is not the first time I've had issues with Office Lady. It's not the second time, either. She's generally unhelpful. Sofia recognized that I was angry with the woman.

Sofia and I rushed home. I talked to dispatch and they said that the last note in their system said that they would let the driver know that she wasn't needed at noon. When the bus arrived (Jessica and our neighbor Reba greeted it), it had a substitute driver. Perhaps this was the issue. All-around madness. I was furious.

We still made it to Nadia's ENT appointment on time.

NADIA'S ENT APPOINTMENT

We made it to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital on time, amazingly. Sofiia begged to get to go to Dragon Park, and I told her that we would if we got out of our appointment by two. Any later makes traffic ridiculous.

The appointment was very quick. I'd screwed up by rescheduling Nadia's 11AM audioology appointment. My reasoning was that, 1) I didn't want to pull Nadia out of school early, and 2) if the hearing test had bad results, and the reason for the bad results was discovered to be blockage that could be cleaned during the ENT appointment, then the hearing test would have been pointless and useless in the first place.

Apparently this isn't the case, but whatevs. Everyone's fine with the arrangement.

Nadia had a bit of blockage in one ear, and neither of her tubes were in place anymore. Dr. Cohen pulled the one on the left side out, but left the one in the right side, because the angle was weird, and she was worried about getting too aggressive with something that will probably work its own way loose. Dr. Cohen asked for permission to wrap Nadia up in a burrito-like velcro restraint to clean her out. She looked like she was in a kiddy asylum. She thought it was comfy at first, but didn't like the work in her ear. Mostly, though, she did great, as did Sofia.

It was a very quick appointment compared to some. We went to the park afterwards.

DRAGON PARK

The girls loved the park, as always. Nadia is getting a little more freedom here each time. Sofia continues to be frustrated that she isn't allowed to roam the entire park how and when she wants. It's just so big and with so many obstructions that it's impossible, when I can't see her, to know whether she's even still in the vicinity. Sofia loves finding new friends to play with. Nadia and I paired up with a Pakistani mother and daughter. The daughter is three. The  mother says that the daughter has difficulty connecting to people they meet because she doesn't speak much.

The little girl had a Leap Frog toy that teaches writing letters, and the little girl loved showing it to me. She especially seemed to love that I loved the toy as much as she does. She'll be talking more soon, because it's obvious that she's very interested in words and letters and communicating. Nadia loved going through their stroller and pulling everything out. The mother was taken aback by Sofia and Nadia's names, since they are also popular names in Arabic-speaking countries.
Sofia played with three brothers of different ages. One of them had just come from the doctor, also, which I picked up on because he was wearing a rectangular sticker just like Nadia and Sofia always get. I think his had Thomas the Tank Engine. Nadia's had Dora.

Both girls crashed on the way home, and I let them sleep, which meant that we had a late night. I was perfectly fine with that, but I'm sure they are exhausted right now. (It's Tuesday afternoon right now.)

THE TICK

Earl in the morning when I was getting her dressed, I noticed a very small tick entrenched in Sofia's back. I explained to her how they work, and how it would feel when I pulled it out. She was great.

At night, not long before bedtime, Sofia said, "Daddy, ticks are just like us. They just want to get bigger! That's all they want, just like me. Next time, I'll let him have some of my blood."

She's a great kid with super bad ideas.