Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Dad's smarter than you are

Recently Lexi told me that she didn't want to hurt my feelings, but "Daddy is smarter than you." She said it a couple of different ways, so I would understand how she came to this conclusion, or perhaps because she fancied twisting the knife in my weeping heart. Now granted, I was folding laundry at the time, and to the casual observer, this is a meaningless, unskilled task. In fact, she sees me do all kinds of things that probably reinforce the idea that I grew up dreaming of doing menial housekeeping tasks. All day. Lexi argued that Daddy travels and Daddy goes to work and Daddy has meetings. Daddy is important and important equals big brains.

And Greg is smart. Some of the fine ladies from Greg's team were extolling Lexi's talking points at the holiday party a couple of weeks ago - well, they didn't say he was smarter than me per se - but they made a point to tell me how bright my husband is. Which I know. I married the guy and I like clever . No new news there. I'm glad Greg's team respects him. I am glad Lexi respects and adores her Dad. This is right and good.

But I was disappointed and well, irritated, that Lexi deduced that I am just plain dumb(er) because I am staying home with her. That I couldn't make my way in the world, like Greg, because I am not capable. I have been the main caregiver because it has simply made sense for our family. I have often wondered if I were ever in a situation where I needed to travel and I provided for the family financially, how would Greg and I rework our situation. I think Greg would do a fine job at home, and struggle with some of the repetition of running a household, just like me. I mean how many creative ways can you mop the floor, really.

Lexi and I spent another 30 minutes talking about her assessment, but really about gender roles. The more we talked, the more I realized that she is starting to build opinions that boys are universally better and more capable, that girls are universally nicer and quieter. I challenged her assumptions about me, I challenged her assumptions about herself. I made my case, for today. I hope she heard me. I tucked her in bed, put the freshly folded clothes away and sat on my bed.

And promptly started banging my head on the wall. Because that's what intelligent women do.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so I've been thinking about this all afternoon and I still have no conclusion as to what I should say. Although I agree that your husband is intelligent, he is not necessarily smarter than you are. I think Lexi needs a little more clarification. Your husband KNOWS more about certain things then you do and the opposite is true as well. I think this is true for all households.

For example, I often admire my husband's intuition, his sincere demeanor, and his quick thinking. I like how he is good at what he does, his smarts.

But ask Lexi this, is a man "SMART" when he asks his wife how to turn on the washing machine? Is a man "SMART" if he asks where the butter is and low and behold it's directly in his sight of vision?

Dear Lexi, don't compare the two. You may soon discover you're wrong.


stephanie spencer said...

Dear smart Lisa...Enlighten Lexi with Mason's pithy remark about women as leaders - somehow she finds him immensely fun & believable. Maybe that will help? Best of luck :)


Davis Family said...

In our family, it is Mommy that travels and goes to meetings and Daddy is the primary caregiver. We often discuss that so many stereotypes are reinforced by the roles people choose. Tony can complain alongside so many stay-at-home (if there is such a thing) Moms with how hard it is and how thankless the job is for being 24x7. He should get hazard pay for listening to the Cars soundtrack 6 hours a day. I think you are a smart (and an excellent writer too) and I am glad you see that you are challenging Lexi's observations to help her believe that there are no limitations to how important, smart, and accomplished she can be!

Lisa Milton said...

I tried, unsuccessfully, to respond to your thoughtful comments last night. (Evil Blogger!) Although I didn't appreciate her initial observation, it has been a great conversation starter. I think Lexi has been surprised to learn that I have turned down various 'important' opportunities while they were young because it made sense for our family. And that by golly, I think raising them is a worthy cause too. (Although I have my doubts sometimes!!)

[Jen, I am glad you commented too, because I thought of your family's situation as well.]

So, thank you for your reassurance. I wasn't fishing for compliments, but I will bask in them nonetheless.

I have always believed (thanks to 'Free to be Me', I'm sure) that a woman can take on the world - either abroad or at home. I hope Lex will grow to believe that as well.