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That’s What I Meant

9 Oct

3 birthday parties for 5 children in 1 weekend = a lot of presents to purchase. To accomplish this feat I brought my trusty advisers with me to pick out some gifts for their buddies (not the best laid plan, but, not the focus of this post). So to the toy aisle of Target I went with Katie (3 ½ ) and Annie (5 ½ ), and here’s a little snippet from our conversations:

Me: So Katie, what do you think we should get for Eli and Brian?

Katie: Something boy-lish.

Annie: There’s no such thing as “boy-lish” Katie. ‘Cause boys can like girls’ toys and girls can like boys’ toys.

Me: OooRrr….toys are for everyone, and boys and girls should get to play with whatever they like.

Annie: Right. That’s what I meant.

image credit: ms office images

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Saw It, But Didn’t See It

25 Sep

A couple of weeks ago I raised a concern about a sign that hung in Nordstrom’s children’s department which read “Boys Stink.”  The support from readers of this blog was fantastic, and I want to thank you all for lending your voice to this matter. I have to say, though, that the amazing response from readers was matched by an equally amazing response from Nordstrom. The Manager of the Scottsdale store removed her store’s signs, contacted the corporate office and PR departments of other stores featuring the same layout and design to encourage them to do the same, AND personally called all the folks that contacted her directly to say the signs were down and apologized for the poor judgment. In addition to the local Manager’s efforts, the Director of Visual Merchandising sent personal emails of the same tone to all of the people who contacted corporate about the signs.

In a phone conversation with a friend of mine, the Manager expressed gratitude for having this issue brought to her attention. She acknowledged that there really was nothing cute about a sign reading “Boys Stink” and regretted that it had gone up in the first place. And then she said something that I think we can all relate to,

“I saw it, but I didn’t really see it. You know?”

Yeah, I do know.

image credit: “Vintage Illustrated Poem” on eBay
What Are Little Boys Made Of?

How many times have we recited nursery rhymes that imply the superiority of one sex over the other? How many times have we heard chants that suggest some battle between the sexes? How many times have we read logos on shirts or titles on books that involve the degradation of one sex by the other?

image credit: zazzle.com

*  In the words of my friend Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, “You don’t raise girls up by breaking boys down.”  Is there really a winner when the advancement of one means the decline of the other? The battle of the sexes is a zero-sum game, but since the beginning of time we’ve pitted one sex against the other while all evidence points to the fact that this is indeed not helpful to anyone.

Don’t we want kids to get along and respect each other? Isn’t that what we expect them to do as adults? The “boys versus girls” messaging is so prevalent, it is easy to see how many of us have become desensitized to it.  Yet, if we open our eyes to it, it’s plain to see how it is eroding relationships between boys and girls/ men and women and we need to ask ourselves “Why?”

I never doubted that Nordstrom would remove the “Boys Stink” signs from their stores, but I think what happened was a bit more than a store responding to “offended” customers by taking down some plaques. I like to think we helped a big corporation to SEE something. And for this I thank you!

This Stinks….NOT Boys

11 Sep

***Update (9/13/12): I’m pleased to report that Nordstrom has removed the ‘Boys Stink’ sign from their Scottsdale store. Thank you to those of you who voiced your concerns, and thank you Nordstrom for listening! ***

Over the weekend I was passing through the Nordstrom Children’s Department, and I saw this:

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Pick your battles and words wisely

31 Jul

For the better part of 20 years, I have been working with kids and therefore been working with parents. From camps to classrooms all over the map, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with all sorts of parents. I would never say that I’ve seen it all, but I have seen a lot. From the extraordinarily high maintenance to the extremely low maintenance and many, many shades in between, working with parents has taught me a lot about the kind of parent I want to be – especially when it comes to advocating for my child. Continue reading

You’re Going to Love the Dance!

18 Jul

Before we packed up the kids and headed east to enjoy a few weeks of cooler weather this summer (fools!), I had my kids in summer programs in Arizona. As an incoming Kindergartener, Annie was now attending “big kid” camp where kids ranged in age from 5 to I don’t know…much older. 10 maybe? In any case, this was a fantastic experience overall: Continue reading

Maybe she was listening after all….

26 Jun

Just when I think my words are falling on deaf ears…..

Annie: “Can Sasha and Aaron be friends?”
Me: “Of course. Why?”
Annie: “Because Morgan and Sarah said she couldn’t be friends with a boy, but I said she could. So I was right, right mom?”
Me: “Right.”
Annie: [Big Smile]

Isn’t it great to get it right?!  😉

How to create stronger gender stereotypes in 2 short weeks!

19 Jun

Caryl Rivers, one of the authors of “The Truth about Girls and Boys,” wrote a terrific post on BlogHer last week which received a good amount of buzz. Her article, “6 Ways You Can Avoid Gender Stereotypes of Your Kids,” highlighted practical strategies for parents backed by some solid research. The post dispelled myths about brain development and gender, encouraged parents to be mindful of their own expectations for their children’s interests and abilities, and promoted the importance of exposing children to a variety of experiences. These tactics tofight back against toxic stereotypes and help girls and boys discover all their talents so that they can follow their dreams wherever they may lead,” got me thinking about something else parents and teachers can do to combat gender stereotypes – we can minimize our use of gender labels and limit how often we use gender to organize groups.

Photo Credit: MS Office Images

In 2010, researchers at Penn State University wanted to see if purposefully making gender salient in preschool classrooms for two weeks would change kids’ attitudes about each other. Continue reading

June Book Salute: Brave Rooney

5 Jun

We are an iPad/iPhone lovin’ family. Of course I prefer my kids to play outside, create projects or read, but I have to say that at the end of the day (especially a day that involves a waiting room, a restaurant or a long car ride) these gadgets bring more peace than problems to my family.

image credit: Gerry Renert/Author

I love my iPad as an e-reader for myself, but until recently, I hadn’t found anything worth sharing with my kids in the way of children’s literature.  They weren’t very interested in hearing a story on the iPad when they could be frosting a cake or solving a puzzle. Well, that all changed with “Brave Rooney,” Continue reading

WHAT did you say???!!!

22 May

“Smile!”

At the ENT – and in an especially photogenic mood – my kids kept asking me to take their pictures. Happy to oblige, I snapped away on my phone as we waited for our turn.

Smile!” instructed my 5 year-old. “Now make a sassy face.”

What did you say?!” Continue reading

It’Sugar

8 May

As I gear up for my 8th summer here in Phoenix, I’m reminded of a couple of lessons I’ve learned over the years that have helped me cope with the heat: 1) a shady parking spot is worth the extra walking and 2) you can enjoy the outdoors as long as there’s water. With the latter lesson in mind, I recently took my kids to play in the splash pad at a nearby outdoor mall. If you are unfamiliar with “splash pads,” they’re basically play areas where kids can run through water fountains without feeling embarrassed that your kids are running through a water fountain. They’re designed for kids, and in Arizona, one would think that having a business located right in front of a splash pad would be prime real estate. Especially if your target market includes kids, like for instance if you’re selling candy….

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