The little girl above is Julia, age 8. She was holding her own personal sit-in, in protest of the Outdoor Learning Center.
No, I am not kidding.
It was a second grade field trip and I was a chaperone. As we were led into the large room, which boasted tables of various animal pelts, the children were encouraged to “move through the room, feeling the pelts.” All of the kids excitedly began exploring the room – saying things like, “This one is a skunk!” “Ooh, feel the squirrel!” Well, all but one child.
For a moment I lost sight of Julia. I scanned the room of children and could not find her. And then, I looked over into the back area of the kitchen and spotted her. It was my Julia. And she was sitting against the wall, crying, with her eyes closed.
“Baby, what is wrong?” I inquired lovingly.
“I am NOT going to pet these poor animals’ skins. I am praying for all the animals who lost their lives for THIS!”
I didn’t know how to respond. I think I might have laughed. My natural inclination was to say, “Oh, just go feel the pelts!” But this child has her own feelings and convictions. Shouldn’t I encourage her independent thinking? Or should I, rather, encourage her to do what she was “supposed” to do at that moment, according to the powers that be?
I debated within myself, and finally decided to allow her to sit there and pray while I walked around and said, “cool” with all the other kids.
This was the first of many moments like this for my little activist.
She has made calls to the Nickelodeon channel, to express her opinion about one of their shows which made fun of blondes by suggesting they are dumb. I overheard her conversation in the other room…
“…I am a blonde and I am in the Gifted and Talented class, and my mom is blonde and she is a music educator. This is a stereotype that you should not be encouraging…”
They told her they would take it under advisement.
She posted a complaint on the Bratz website about their brand being a “poor role model” for girls her age.
They gave her a short, cutesy reply about how “Bratz girlz show their independence…just like you, Julia!”
She gagged a little. But we moved on.
Then most recently, I took her to a UIL One Act performance of a local high school. I didn’t do my due diligence in investigating the play, but assumed it would be OK for all eyes since it was a school function. It was “The Children’s Hour”…and I was wrong.
The play ended with a suicide (off stage), but you could hear a gun shot ring out before the stage went dark. The lights came up to reveal my child sitting in the fetal position crying (not unlike the picture above, only a bigger kid.)
I was horrified. I felt terrible. We talked about it on the way home and I thought she was OK.
The next morning I went for a run. When I got back, Julia was all smiles.
“Mom! I called the theatre department and told them that we did NOT appreciate that play…” I tuned out at that point because I work in the district and was quite appalled that she had spoken for me to someone else in the district.
That feeling came over me again. The “just go feel the pelts!” feeling.
Julia challenges me. See, I am a PLEASER. I am a “go with the flow”, “don’t cause a ruckus” person. And Julia is a mover and a shaker. She is someone who can change the world. And that never ceases to make me uncomfortable.
There is a bumper sticker that I have seen many times, which reads, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
But it is sometimes hard to be their mother.