Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

97 pound weakling

Yesterday, I took Levi to the pool. That little boy is quite nervous in the water. He likes to sit on the steps and play with a boat. If I take him out into the water, he holds on fairly tight and asks to go back. So, I was sitting there, watching him play with his boat and looking around at some of the other kids his age. They were jumping around and splashing and kicking. Their parents had to grab them regularly to keep them from drowning themselves. And then, I had a flash forward about 2 years. He's 4 and taking swimming lessons and he's the small, skinny pale kid afraid to get his face wet (there's always one, right?). The exasperated instructor pretty much ends up leaving him to me and teaching the braver kids to kick and blow bubbles. This scared and worried me until I thought even further down the line and realized that when he is a grown man it will not matter one bit that he was a small, skinny, cautious child. And I realized that even I, who consider myself above that, expect boys to be strong and brave to some degree, and that is not fair.

3 Comments:

Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Believe it or not, LightBoy was like that when he was 2. He hated the water and clung to me like a tic! But I used a combination of just taking him to the pool and the lake a lot and letting him get used to it on his own time and swimming lessons when he was ready. Now he leaps in with abandon and loves to swim. He spent lots and lots of time sitting on the steps with a boat (at the pool), or on the dock (at the lake) kicking the water with his feet. If you're persistant at taking him to the water, but allow him the space to approach it on his own, he will eventually swim and be fine with it. Especially if you play in the water and show him how much fun it is.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Yeah, I agree with Ms Solas. Elizabeth was very timid in the water when we started going to the pool at like age six months. She's six now and the is the first summer she has put her face in the water. When we would go in the pool together I would push her a little bit -- but only in fun ways and never to point that she was REALLY scared.

But to your point about expecting boys to be strong and brave... I'm not sure if that gender sterotypes totally explains it. I do agree that it's hard for us who try not to stereotype our kids to not have SOME bagage around gender roles. But I've noticed with Elizabeth that I'm very competative on her behalf. I want her to achive and be the strong and to do well. I know I have to hold that in check and not let it spill over into the things I say and do around her... but so often I feel it well up inside me. Like when I go to my parent teacher conference... I hold my breathe until the teacher confirms she's in the highest reading group. I know I wouldn't love her any less if she were in the lowest group... but I want her to have advantages and to get all the breaks I did get, plus all the breaks I didn't get. And being the best and winning and being the strongest and the bravest... these are all ways that kids get breaks in life.

I also don't want her to have a lot of the pain I had... and being the skinny (or fat) scared kid is a sure fire way to get yourself teased and I know how painful that is. You're right that it doesn't matter that much when you're grown up. But it sure hurts when you're going through it.

So, when I'm competive for Elizabeth... it's not because of gender roles, but because I know how it turns out and I only want the best for her.

5:02 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Deep stuff.
Levi's way ahead of Lizzy, by the way. Lizzy is petrified of the water. Her day care has had "water play" once a week every summer that she's been alive, and not only will she refuse to go in the 2-inch-deep wading pool water, she'll avoid the sprinklers, as well.
Some kids just don't like stuff. I plan to try correcting this, but if he doesn't want to take swimming lessons at age four... *shrug*

3:42 PM  

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