I will fully admit that I moved to Arizona kicking and screaming. I was not a trooper. I did not handle this relocation with ease nor with grace. But two kids and 7 ½ years later I have to say that living in the Valley of the Sun (especially in February) is pretty sweet.
A few weekends ago I met two of my friends at a park on a beautiful Saturday morning. With seven girls between us, we were feeling grateful that our crew finally reached stages of independence which allow us to actually carry on conversations (short ones, but still).
While we may have had more opportunity to chat with one another on this particular occasion, our kiddos activities were not going unnoticed. So it did not escape our attention when, one by one, each of our daughters gravitated over to where a group of older boys were building a pretty rockin’ sandcastle complete with a working moat. They were mesmerized! With our girls sitting and watching along the periphery while the boys immersed themselves in the action of construction, I tried not to get too wrapped up in the “great divide” aspect of this scenario. After all, there was a pretty big age difference between our little ones and the castle creators, and the project was well underway when our girls wandered over. I recognized the various elements contributing to this gender segregation, but it did paint a pretty striking picture, and so I did ask my friend to take a photo of this scene and email it to me.
I am always aware of the messages my kids are receiving about gender and the things they can and can’t do – what is “for them” or “not for them.” As I watched my kids watch the other kids build this fabulous sandy wet structure, I was hoping they realized they too could get involved in such undertakings. So when one of the original constructors of the castle stood and stomped on the creation it was a clear and open invitation to all that they may now join the action.
Did I want to my kids to get soaking wet and covered in sand and mud? Not especially. Did I want my kids to know that I did not want them to get soaking wet and covered in sand and mud? NOOOOOO! So they jumped and splashed and kicked and squished and smiled and laughed. They were filthy and free and couldn’t believe their good fortune!
As we walked to the car I strategized in my head how to best minimize the tracking of sand and mud into the house. But the thing about messes is that they’re usually pretty easy to clean-up. Now messages….those are a little trickier.