Saturday, March 4, 2017

Celebrating Women...and Goofy Boys...

North Carolina typically shows up on political maps as a predominantly "Red" state, but there are pockets of liberal...ness...tucked in here and there, of which my little corner of the world--Chapel Hill and Carrboro--fits the definition to a T. Now, this has never been more apparent--as one might expect--than in the...unsettled...days since the 2016 election, when people in our 'hood have been compelled to voice their concerns about the reigning atmosphere of chaos caused by the new, so-called "leader" of our country. For example, in January somewhere between 10-and 15,000 people joined a Women's March in Raleigh to coincide with the larger one in D.C. Then, restaurants and businesses closed in support of A Day Without Immigrants in February; my sons also noted that there were students and teachers missing from their schools that day as well (with their absences deemed "fully excused" on the attendance records, I might add).

And now, there's this (quoted directly from the official email everyone received from the Interim Superintendent of Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools):  "This coming Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, and has also been deemed, “A Day Without a Woman.”
Women across the nation, as well as men, will be participating in a one-day demonstration to recognize the value of women. As part of this demonstration, many will be staying home from work.
In recent weeks, I started hearing from staff members who indicated they will not be coming to work on Wednesday, March 8. As we get closer to that date, I have heard from more and more staff that they will also be absent. I asked our school principals and central office department heads to survey staff to find out how many absences would occur.
The results came back, and the number was significant. In fact, it is my determination that we will not have enough staff to safely run our school district.
To that end, I am declaring Wednesday, March 8 as an optional teacher workday. There will be no school for students, and no on-site child care. Students will not be required to make up this day as the system is on schedule to meet the required number of instructional hours for the school year."
Soooo...I sat there with my mouth hanging open for a moment thinking nothing more coherent than..."Holy guacamole--this is BIG! And pretty dang cool, too..." I soon found out, however, that this was one of those times when the only female in Casa WestEnders might have been radically separated from the Male Trio with her evidenced by the following exchange between me and a certain almost-17-year-old: 
Me: "So, Derek, did you hear about the 'no school on Wednesday' deal?" 
Derek: (vehemently) "Yeah, it's ridiculous. Wednesday was gonna be so great!"
Me: (extraordinarily confused, as this was not at ALL what I anticipated) "Oh-kaaaay...why?"
Derek: (sparing me a quick sideways glance, disbelief plastered all over his features, due to the fact that he actually has to explain this to me, when it should be blatantly obvious) "NO GIRLS at school! Half my teachers would even be missing! No whining, no drama..."
Me: (comprehension dawning) "Ohhhhh, I get it. But I really thought your reaction would be 'That's sooooo Carrboro!'"
Derek: (with passionate conviction) "Oh, it IS. Believe me, this wouldn't be happening in...Rougemont!" (Clarification: Rougemont is a tiny, rural town slightly to our northeast, which Derek associates inextricably in his mind with the idea of "backwater outpost"---you know, having spent a very brief time there...exactly ONCE...)
Me: (sighing) "Oh, good grief, child. Let me tell you a story that you're sure to love." (He hasn't learned to fear that kind of lead-in yet, from lack of experience in his young life. Soon enough, he'll recognize these dangerous phrases, and figure out that he should run screaming in the other direction when he hears one. But for now, he stuck around to listen...mwah hah hah!)

I launched into my tale: "A colleague from work (we'll call her Ann...onymous. Get it? Ha!) was visiting friends who have a 3-ish-year old daughter. Ann was playing with the little girl, who was offering her food items from her make-believe store. When Ann asked how much they cost, the toddler told her "4 LadyBucks." Ann, perplexed and thinking she'd misheard, asked why she had to pay in 'ladybugs.' But the child showed her a set of pretend money her parents had given her, where each 'dollar' was worth only represent the amount that women earn, compared to men. 

(I know, right? Freakin' hilarious...and downright clever...and perhaps just a wee bit absurd...but mostly the first two...)

I sat there smugly pleased with my delivery, waiting for Derek to make some sort of comment, or indeed to respond in any way, but he seemed momentarily stunned into speechlessness, gaping at me soundlessly. "C'mon, isn't that awesome?" I finally prompted. At which point he managed to gather his wits and sputter, with a good head of steam, "WHY are they teaching their 3-year old about the WAGE GAP? I guarantee you, when my kid's 3, they're gonna hear about why it was a terrible idea to move Andrew McCutcheon to Right Field! Yep, all sports, and that's IT!"
Although I was impressed that he threw in the term "wage gap" (thank you, 10th grade Civics class), I nevertheless replied, "Well, maybe their MOTHER will tell them about women's issues..." But he was ready this time with a quick retort, "Then I never would have married her, believe me!" 

Apparently my mentioning my work-mates triggered another thought, as--before I had a chance to properly address his distressing lack of support for gender equality--his next question was, "So, is your office participating in this, 'cuz it seems like they would be the kind of people who would?" I replied, "I'm sure they'd like to, but it depends on stuff like meetings, and how much they have to do, and whether they can afford the time off." He slyly continued, "You mean, it isn't an official holiday?" And then, facetiously,"Hey, is this one of those gift-giving occasions? Is it like...your second Christmas, or something?"
I could sense that our...special little chat...was devolving into utter silliness, and I was just about to put a stop to it when he burst out with his final conversational jab, "Hey, why don't MEN get an International Day? It's not fair!" In reply, I hit him with a whole...purseload...of indignant sarcasm: "Um...that's kind of the POINT, dear--EVERY day is Men's Day!" The Last Word was to be his, however, as he triumphantly crowed, "Yeah...but we don't get to stay home..and FLAUNT it like you do!"
So, after I'm done rolling my eyes (and possibly smacking him with a rolled-up copy of some kind of...I don't know...Feminist Manifesto, or something...anyone know where I can find one of those?) I'll get to work figuring out how I can mold my boys into more sensitive, understanding, knowledgeable proponents of women's rights...because clearly their training is not yet complete. Heeeyyy...maybe I'll stay home on Wednesday with them and we can all bond while reading about the lives of influential women from throughout history, like Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sally Ride, and the like. Oooh....and just we don't neglect the emotional component of their education....a John Hughes marathon! Wheeeeee! This is gonna be such a blast...for ME, anyway!

No comments: