Friday, August 26, 2005

Whiny parent alert

I'm a teacher, or as near as makes no difference. I can't stand whiny parents who complain nonstop about their kids' school/camp/daycare. But--ta-da--I have become one! Argh!

Just tried to drop MG off at camp. We've been going late because they do swimming first thing, MG won't swim in the crowded indoor pool, and I don't have to go to work at any particular time this week.

The other day I tried to pack her bathing suit "just so you'll have a choice! in case you want to swim!" and she burst into earthshaking sobs and choked out, "Don't! Don't! They check your backpack, and if you have a bathing suit they make you swim!"

So I didn't pack her bathing suit. It's the last week of camp, after all.

Today--the last day of camp--the schedule said they'd have swimming first, then the Perrforming Arts camp performance. We didn't want to miss that so we came in the middle of swim time. But--surprise!--the schedule was wrong! They were partway through the first performance when we got there! All was darkness and tiered bleachers in the gym, and I didn't want her predictable separation-anxiety meltdown to disrupt the performance, so I stayed for the whole damn thing.

And here is where my whiny parenthood intersects with either prudishness or feminism, can't tell the difference at the moment.

Act One (we missed most of this part): Performed by 1st and 2nd graders. Mickey and Minnie Mouse break up, and the other cartoon characters try to get them back together.

Act Two: 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Robin Hood. Robin Hood has to win some kind of contest so that Maid Marian wil marry him.

Act Three: 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Selections from-- guess, no, go on, guess.

Cabaret? No, worse.
Chicago? no, WORSE.


The musical whose wholesome, kid-friendly message is, to quote one of my favorite short stories, "If you want to keep your boyfriend, you'd best put out."

Seriously, I'm not a prude. I'm all for kids feeling positive about their sexuality at any age. I'm probably way on the fringe in terms of how little I think kids need to be protected from knowledge of sex. But when the "Beauty School Dropout" singer turned and did a little in-jokey cough instead of singing the word "hooker" where it normally goes in that song, I smacked my forehead.

More than that kind of thing, though, it's the girls' (or female mouse's) gender roles in all three of those plays that's so exasperating. My frilly, femmy, "boys like Spiderrman and girls like Barrrrrrrbie" girl doesn't need any more encouragement along those lines.

*Brief interruption for some commentary from my Inner Trolls*

Inner Troll #1: Aren't you overreacting a bit? Big deal, it was just some cute plays, the kids were obviously having a blast, it's not like they don't know about sex roles from the entire culture anyway, and are you sure your true motivation isn't just a little prudish?

Inner Troll #2: Sexuality is one of the great themes of all art and literature. It's dumb to pretend kids don't tune into that. How different are you from the parents who don't want their kids to read Judy Blume or Robie Harris's It's Perfectly Normal?

Inner Troll #3: What do you expect? It's a mainstream camp. Quit yer whining. If that kind of thing is so important to you, why don't you do your research and send her to some groovy earthy crunchy progressive camp? You live in Seattle, for godsakes. I'm sure you can find one.

Thank you, trolls. Your opinions certainly provide food for thought. I'll keep them in mind.

In the meantime, I'm going to pick her up early today. Even though I stayed till noon, it just seemed to make her whinier (see, it runs in the family!): she clung and cried and even ran away from the group to try to follow me. Twice.

But I left. Because I didn't wnt to reinforce whining and crying. And because I had to go to work and be productive. See how productive I'm being?

She said this morning that kids tease her because she's not quite five yet. But she might be making that part up; she never mentioned it before today.

And some kid stole her fruit leather out of her bag on Wednesday.

I think next year I might have to find some other way for MG to get her dose of Happy Jolly Jewish Summer Fun.


Blogger Anna said...

I am so with you on the not-at-all overreaction to this. I always found Grease to have a repulsive "moral" also: "Change yourself in order to make people like you!" Bleah. I don't blame you a bit for getting irked. I don't think prudishness has anything to do with it: Grease's message is hardly empowering.

(Troll #3 probably has a point though: I bet you could find some nifty camp for her. Although that doesn't solve the problem...just moves it off your doorstep.)

7:32 PM  
Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

I HATE Grease's message---and I was in it!

Find some crunchy Quaker camp where they make peace cranes and bake their own granola. Oh, I guess that would defeat the Jewish point, eh?

6:20 PM  

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