We spent some time with the in-laws over the last few days in a lovely mountain location.
They have very strict gender roles and patterns. Women cook and clean while men leave the kitchen. Women watch children and go shopping. Men go skiing and visit Princess Auto and museums.
The father packed his own clothes, a rare event, and no one believed he hadn’t forgotten anything. The mother and daughter went for a long drive and no one believed that they hadn’t gotten lost but actually chose to drive to a scenic location for a hike.
I hate shopping, I wear hand-me-downs, and I like museums. M-i-l (Mother-in-law) decided that she couldn’t go skiing with the guys because it was her job to “stay back with the girls”. Hearing her explanation, I asked if I could take her skis and had a marvelous time by myself cutting paths through fresh snow on abandoned hiking trails.
There were two babies for everyone to be entertained with. Two 9 month old kids, my girl Minor C, and her only boy cousin, Baby Monster. (A sweet, calm, round baby)
I watched as F-i-l handed Baby Monster a small car. F-i-l made car noises and showed Baby M how to drive it. Baby M promptly stuffed the little car in his mouth and chewed. I suggested that they give him a chew toy instead. They rolled their eyes at me until they noticed the metal bottom of the car getting further into his mouth. They replaced the toy.
Minor C was crawling all over the floor. Her aunt immediately handed her a soft dolly. Again, I suggested a chew toy might be more appropriate. The aunt gave me a glare and immediately I felt chastened. I always feel like the gender role trouble maker, but I just do not fit theirs and I feel resentful when I try.
I was about to apologize when my baby planted her face into the soft belly of the doll and tried to chew, nearly suffocating herself. The doll was replaced with a smaller plastic toy.
Much to my vengeful delight, both babies’ favourite toy was a bright green car. They fought over it and so another green car was handed to Baby Monster which he ignored.
Minor C loves to climb. She climbs over and into anything she can. She crawled right over her cousin who hasn’t yet mastered the art of crawling. Everyone was cheering and telling the boy cousin to do something about it. Why this pressure for the 9 month old?
Minor C also scratches deep and hard. If she can reach your face, you will leave with scars. She crawled over to Baby Monster and reached for his eyes. He began to howl as I heard his dad say, “Toughen up, little man.”
My husband grabbed Minor C and moved her away. Baby M’s dad tried to explain that his son needed to learn to take things.
This makes me mad. Minor C is strong and can do lasting damage to an adult face, let alone another baby.
Not everything is so rigid, however. M-i-l babysits children and knows what children like. She gave my 3 year old a toy tractor and some building blocks. Lil’T loves tractors (I don’t, this is not my influence)! She was also given a pretty dress, which she also loves. I was glad that Lil’T was given permission to be herself and freedom to delight in tractors and pretty clothes.