Monday, 12 September 2011

Gender Strong

The monster goes to an after school thing few days a week. She spends an hour or two there while I am at work and does something. I have long since stopped trying to figure out what she does there - I am confident that she is well cared for and enjoys it there, gets some exercise and has a couple of kids she is friends with. The trick is, I have discovered, is to not expect too much from all these places. Not to think in terms of value per rupee spent. Childhood is a hard thing to quantify like that. The monster is a reasonable child but is still a child and can be very distracted and inconsistent with everything (except for obsessive reading).

They do an 'end of the term' event usually, at this place. I have missed a couple of these events (not a big deal), but I do make an effort to go. That is when  you learn about what the kids were up to through the term. Not very important to me, because I have long ceased trying to figure out if my hard earned is well spent on this, but still, I go, because the monster thinks I should.

Last week was supposed to be a different sort of event. It was a cricket match - parents versus children. I thought the idea was great, although I know that the monster is neither too interested nor too good at cricket. I personally loathe the game, and feel very harassed the few times I am forced to play it. Partly, its the hype. Partly, its that everyone, especially men, is to into this game. Mostly, its because I am convinced that it doesn't require the type of fitness that say, tennis, requires; and seriously, doesn't involve enough running (like, say, soccer, which I love).

But my husband was travelling. I tried to convince my parents-in-law to go. In general, its a bad idea to send grandparents to these events. Because of their expectation that their grandchild is a superstar. And their ingoing assumption that the teachers and other kids are not appreciating said grandchild's superstardom enough. Nevertheless, I was hoping to get out of this one. They were also travelling though, so it came to me.

I asked the monster if I had to wear white or something awful like that (I don't own such a thing, but could have worn the lightest coloured running tee I had). She said it wasn't required. I could wear my running gear and it would be fine. So I did that. Including my timex watch, for good measure. We cycled over to the location (its just a street away from our house, monster and I have been cycling over whenever we can, raising eyebrows and smiles along the way).

Big surprise. 'Parent' was interpreted as 'Father' Oh! there were mommies there. But they were well manicured and sitting down. One of them was enthusiastic and yelling instructions. One of them actually wore sneakers, as part of a well-co-ordinated outfit. I should have been supportive of her but I was strongly discouraged by it all by then. I ignored everyone, refused to participate in the bonhomie, if any. I fielded. I bowled my over (good length, low on pace, one wide, overarm). I batted (three balls, connected reasonably, kid was bowling well and fast, was caught by the umpire!). I watched the monster dream away on the boundary line as she fielded, feel happy and excited when we told her they were winning (they were not, but we made them win, per the teacher's insistence). If my husband was in town, I might not have gone, for sure, 'cause I had meetings that I had to re-jig. But if I had gone, there was no way I was sitting down. I know I made some of the Daddies uncomfortable by insisting on playing. But there was no way I was letting my monster down....

I was glad when it was all over. At one point, I was so depressed by it all. I live my life by not asking for slack. I don't meet the guys for a morning run and ask them to take it easy 'cause of my gender. They are all just spontaneously nice on days when I am dying, but again, I would do that to them too, on their off day, I think its even. I don't go to work and make excuses for myself. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been caught by surprise when I am walking between buildings and someone offers to carry my books for me. I don't enter the basketball court and expect that the guy guarding me will be gentle (in fact, in earlier times, I would get super pissed off if I sensed that he was up to something like that. I would come back and kick his ass big time, so that he respects me as a player. Not anymore. 'Cause the angst is gone plus I have retired from that game). I naturally assumed that this stuff that I fought against in my youth, would be all solved and taken care of by now and the monster's generation wouldn't have to deal with it.

She is one of the few girls in the class. She is bad at it - not demonstrated any skill/interest in it. But not because she is a girl! I know a friend of mine - her daughter is very good at cricket and gets coaching for it. But still raises eyebrows. Like back in the 80s when I used to lace up and go run the road race in my hometown and mom got flak for it. Or when my friend & I used to ride the cycle non-stop for hours and get yelled at by sundry aunts for being girls and doing such things which was the purvey of boys. That was THIRTY years ago. Seriously.


Sraikh said...

It's sad isn't it. That gender bias is still there, everywhere, not only in India but still everywhere else. In little ways, that because we have breasts we cannot do so- and such.

I had one earlier this weekend. I bought a set of patio furniture. The guy assumed I would bring my spouse to carry it to my trunk. I told him to hold the gate and I would haul it myself. He was where is your spouse. I said looking after the kids. Then he asked why didn't I send the spouse and I stay home with the kids. I said why?my furniture,my trunk, my business and I would carry it. If you want to help, help if not I will manage it. He was shocked it seemed.

Choxbox said...

Am already in a grrr mood today thanks to some similar gender-related crap. I am so not taking it though.
Aah. Sometimes I want to retire from this world and go live on some other planet.

kbpm said...

Sraikh - you go girl!

Chox - seriously, its all so much the same still.

it all feels like such a burden.

Ludwig said...

Fuck 'em. That's all I got to say.

starry eyed said...

Hey! First time commenting here, tho' I read often. Kudos to you for persisting! Altho' I u/s the feeling of being so tired fighting this stuff.

On the plus side, son has spotted three different women riding motorbikes in the last month. And my daughter recently expressed her disgust abt a 'Dress-up the Barbie' competition (only for girls, of course) at a rival school, so somewhere it is sinking in!

Choxbox said...

Starry: Dress-up Barbie competition??? Where? No, not where, what I meant was WHY???

kbpm said...

ludwig- Hell Yeah!
starry- Yes, there are women auto drivers in Chennai. and bus drivers too, apparently. Which is awesome! Dress Up Barbie. Oh yes, thats just great.

dipali said...

The more things change, the more they remain the same:(

S. said...

But now you're the mom that's playing cricket for her kid, which is super fabulous :) How many girls you probably inspired right there! They may have the same complaints that you did when you were growing up- but at least they won't have to limit themselves AS much on account of lack of role models!

Sorry, just happened to stumble onto your blog off Kiddo's and couldn't resist. Loved the post!

kbpm said...

Dipali - how true! S. - Thank you, those are kind words.