So I was at my parents’ house yesterday afternoon, spending a little time with my mum and my sons. Four of us were milling around the living room having a cuppa when one of us asked Finley something. I can’t remember who asked him and what was asked, but I remember that he wasn’t listening to us.
So mum kindly reminded him that it was important that he should listen when grown-ups are talking to him. His response to that was,
“You’re not a grown-up, granny.”
“I’m not a grown-up? What about mummy? Is she a grown-up?” my mother replied.
“No, mummy isn’t a grown-up.”
“What about daddy? Is he a grown-up?” mum continued.
“Yes, daddy is a grown-up.”
“What about uncle Leon?”
“Yes, uncle Leon is a grown-up.”
“What about granddad?”
“Yes, granddad is a grown-up.”
Mum and I continued quizzing him about who were grown-ups and who were not, and it became very apparent that all the women in my elder son’s life were not considered grown-ups. Mum and I sat there clutching our brews in utter astonishment. At what point did my 3-year old make the decision that men were grown-ups and women were not? And why?
When Ian is working, he has early starts and late finishes, with a lot of weekend paperwork involved, and consequently doesn’t get as much time with the kids as he would like. So I found Finley’s conclusions particularly baffling, as mum and I are probably the two adults that spend the majority of his time with him, us being the grown-ups doing the caring and teaching, and being the epitome of ‘grown-up’. Furthermore, I spend a lot of time positively demonstrating gender equality, avoiding pushing gender stereotypes onto the kids and making a conscious effort to promote gender neutral values.
Perhaps I’m not doing it well enough.
Indeed, although it came as a shock to hear about my elder son’s definition of a grown-up, it did occur to me that maybe his definition of ‘grown-up’ was completely different to ours. I attempted to question him on the meaning of ‘grown-up’, but to no avail. He had become engrossed in his Lego by this time and was no longer interested in taking part in meaningful gender debates.
I will continue to pick his brain on these thoughts though; try and get to the bottom of it. The truth is, I can’t fathom why he has made this bizarre conclusion, and I’m ever-so-slightly concerned that it is rooted in some embryonic sexist views he is developing about men and women. I hope I’m wrong.