The Radical Parents Manifesto

I spent a lot of my preschool teaching career in the bathroom. I’m not a creeper, but you can’t just send a three year old in there alone. We usually went as a group and someone had to supervise. As a whole, the kids were messy. Toilet paper everywhere, muddy shoe prints, boogers on the wall, are all completely normal in a preschool bathroom. In general, though, little girls almost always got all their business where it belonged and  flushed the toilet. I understand it is more difficult for boys, but even the sitters often found a way to get pee on the wall or the floor, and at least half of them would walk away from the toilet without flushing. (Luckily I have a lot of bar experience. I can flush a toilet with one foot, wearing 3 inch heels, standing in a puddle of beer. I can handle the preschool bathroom.)

“Boys will be boys,” their parents chirped. “Thats just what they do.”

I disagree. I don’t think there is a genetic excuse for not flushing the toilet. I think their dad was their role model and he is a filthy beast, or their mother skipped this step of potty training because… having a penis makes it harder to flush the toilet? I’m still working on this theory. Okay, Dad may not be a filthy beast, but he is lazy and I bet his toilet is a filthy beast, and who do you suppose cleans it?

We call women the weaker sex but we treat men as if they are the weaker sex. They aren’t tidy and organized enough to pick up their own socks and flush the toilet, yet we allow them to run corporations and businesses. They open the jelly jar and unclog the drain but can’t handle a diaper. It starts in childhood and follows them throughout their lives. The double standard goes far beyond the cliche of men who sleep around getting called studs while women who sleep around are labeled sluts.

When my ex-husband took time off of work to go to a meeting at my stepson’s school the teachers and counselor gushed about how absolutely wonderful it was that he took time out of his day for him. What. The. Fuck. Stepson’s mom had been to numerous meetings, so many she was on the verge of losing her job (it was a rough year) and I had gone to several, too, dragging Beauty along. No one ever complimented us or told us we were doing a great job helping him. A similar thing happened when he wrote a check for the girls’ enrollment. The secretary thought it was just wonderful he was paying their fees. He’s their DAD, not some stranger on the street. This idea that he is a great guy for taking care of his children is absurd. Yes, there is a huge percentage of men NOT doing this, but that makes them jerks, below average and not the norm.  Do not lower the standard to make that behavior the norm and anything above it super-dad behavior.

Taking care of your children, whether by signing a check or attending a conference, should be the norm for all parents.

If a single mom busts her ass working two jobs it is expected, but if an absent father pays his child support without a court order he is an upstanding guy. Men are never criticized for working outside the home but women have this huge battle between themselves over it. Heck, if a mom goes out for the night she is open to criticism, whereas men are allowed their boys nights out. Take a moment to consider these double standards in your daily life. I’d like to hear about them. I’m not done with this subject, I’m just getting started.

We are allowing men to coast by on the excuse that “boys will be boys” and I’m not falling for it. If a uterus makes us superior then I want superior treatment, or at the very least equal. It is almost 2013, after all. If a penis does not somehow detract from intelligence and tidiness, as I expect it does not, and if men will not start holding themselves up to a higher standard, then, like most everything else, we’ll just have to fix this ourselves. Start with your sons. They are capable of flushing the damn toilet. We are different, men and women, but not so different we need a different set of standards.

While we’re at it, let’s just clear something up, women do not have an innate, natural desire or ability to clean. You can follow the timeline of history to see how women were cast in this role. It has nothing to do with biology and quite a bit to do with the antiquated notion that we are the weaker sex, and we perpetuate the myth to our children.

We buy our boys sturdy blue trucks and bestow our girls with sparkly pink brooms. These are perfectly fine toys, but don’t forget to buy your son a toilet brush and a mop, too. Buy your daughter a calculator. When Daddy takes his daughter out for quality time, don’t have a tea party with her.  Take her to work. Share your “manly” hobbies with her. And Mom, please do the same with your son. Break boundaries and destroy gender roles. MAKE EVERYONE CLEAN. A haggard housewife in a suburb somewhere just passed out with a Norwex cloth in her hand. These ideas may be too radical for the mainstream, but I have faith in you. You are radical. You will break the rules.

You don’t have to send your son to school in a skirt or make your daughter play football… unless they want that, in which case, that’s your call. I’m just suggesting we show them more options than those laid out for them by generations of society, and while we’re it, we are going to redefine the standards we all live by.

Today, on Sharkboy’s third birthday, I pledge to raise my sons exactly as I raised my daughters. They will have chores and help me clean. They will clean up after themselves, in the bathroom and everywhere else. They will flush the damn toilet. I will expose them to a variety of interests and hobbies and encourage them to pursue what they enjoy, regardless of gender roles. When they get older we will have the same discussions about politics and religion and sexuality that I had with their sisters. I will teach them to respect themselves and their partner. They will know about the types of birth control and how they work. They will know how to change a diaper and kiss an owie. There is no other way to change the standard than to start immediately and set the bar higher. Today.

Don’t limit this manifesto to your children. Women, stop settling for excuses, and men, flush the damn toilet.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 18:28:01

    Awesome.

    Reply

  2. EnglishTeacher
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 21:10:26

    Amen.

    Reply

  3. Danèlle Stamps
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 13:14:16

    “A haggard housewife in a suburb somewhere just passed out with a Norwex cloth in her hand.” LOL

    Reply

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