According to Tammy Wynette, “Kids say the darndest things”. However, more often than not, the things they say come straight from the mouths of us adults. No matter how irrelevant we think our words to be, they are picked up by the radar ears of our little rugrats and promptly stored away in their banks of their memory, ready to be brought forth at the most inopportune moments.
Take, for example, the case of my niece, Charlie, and her seven year old daughter, Laura. Recently divorced, Charlie is still nevertheless friends with her ex-husband. That’s not to say that he doesn’t still infuriate her now and again, especially when he tries to take over and insists that “this is a man’s job”. On one such occasion, Charlie was changing an electrical plug when her ex happened to pop by. It’s something she has done several times before and the fact that neither she nor the children have ever been blown up, is testament to the fact that she knows what she’s doing. Nevertheless, the sight of her with an electrical cable in one hand and a screwdriver in the other, was enough to send her ex into full caveman mode. He snatched the cable and screwdriver out of her hands and told her that she should have called him if she needed anything like that doing. He ended with “Changing plugs and anything electrical is a man’s job.”
Later that day, Charlie was bemoaning his albeit well-meaning attitude to one of her friends. Unaware that Laura was in earshot, she said “Honestly, I don’t know what it is. Half the time I feel like telling him that just because he’s got a penis doesn’t make him better than me!”
Fast forward a few days and Laura, who’s more than a bit of a tomboy, was playing outside when some boys started playing football. She politely asked if she could play with them, but they just laughed and said no. Undeterred, she asked again, this time following up with the fact that she’d played football with boys before and that she was good at football. Still they said no. Seeing and hearing this conversation taking place, Charlie wandered to the back door to make sure that everything was all right. No sooner had she reached the door, she saw Laura standing in full little madam pose – feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips. She was about to go out to her when, to her horror she heard her yell loud enough for the next town to hear, “Just because you have a penis doesn’t make you better than me!”
NB: As I write this, my husband has come into the room, seen two flies zooming around the room and has gone after them with a tea towel. This is despite me saying that I will swat them as soon as I’ve finished writing, because, well, I’m better at it than he is. Upon seeing one of the flies land on the edge of my desk, he stealthily crept up to it, wielded the tea towel and brought it down hard. Smack! Unfortunately, he missed both the fly and the desk and whipped himself in the balls with the towel. He is currently on the floor and I can barely see through tears of laughter.
Here’s to strong women! May we be them. May we know them. May we raise them.