My son, husband, and I often play a guessing game. It’s a great way to pass the time when we’re out at a restaurant waiting for our food. It requires no batteries, no extra parts; just the three of us, thinking and talking.
We give each other riddles. I’m thinking of an animal that can swim in the water and hop around on land. When it’s younger it has a tail. It has a long tongue. (A frog).
Recently, I adapted the game so it became a biography version. I’m thinking of a man who has a very important job. He is also a husband and a daddy to two daughters. He’s lived in many places including Hawaii and Indonesia, but now he lives in Washington D.C. (President Obama)
The biographies version was new which meant that my son wanted to keep playing it. Over and over. The longer we played, the more I had to really think about who I could translate into clues. I thought of people my son has learned about in school (Andy Warhol, Rosa Parks), and people he’s learned about at home (van Gogh, Monet, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Michael Jordan). And I noticed that almost all my clues began with “I’m thinking of a man.”
Because I’ve taught for twelve years, I had plenty of women I could have described; after all, I used to make my upper-grade students complete a Women’s History Month Project each March. But my son is in first grade, and school hasn’t exposed him to many influential women. (Yet).
And that’s when I felt like I had shortchanged my son. Have I somehow dropped the ball by not exposing my son to more women? Is it my fault or am I being too hard on myself (something I am apt to do)? I thought about what we’ve introduced him to, what’s in our home. There are the Baby Monet and Baby van Gogh DVDs from the Little Einstein Company that first got my son interested in the work of those great artists. And truthfully certain figures, such as Dr. Seuss and Michael Jordan, are incomparable.
On the other hand, I never did go through our home and count the number of male artists that are represented by the pieces hanging on our walls, and I’ve never tallied up how many female authors have written the books that are on my son’s bookcases. So while there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel it’s overly important (he is only six after all), I do want my son to understand that men and women, of all different backgrounds, are capable of, and have produced, some fantastic work.
And someday, he’ll be one of them!