My son asked me to buy him some posterboard. He was working on a project for Spanish class.
He took the posterboard to school and came home with it. It was still blank when he brought it home and he lamented the fact that his partner in class didn't show up and now he had to complete the entire assignment by himself.
"I don't understand group projects," the Girl Child told me. "One person always ends up doing all the work and the other people do nothing and everyone gets the same grade."
"They are just preparing you for life," I told her. "At every workplace there's always this one guy. Sometimes more than one. They don't do anything. They just show up. Occasionally they spout out buzzwords like 'synergy' and 'viral' in meetings, but they have no idea what those words mean. They get hired because the guy doing the hiring knows their dad and they have no idea what business development means so they sit in their office googling it right before meetings so they have something to say when it's their turn around the table."
My daughter blinked her big brown eyes in disbelief. "That doesn't happen in real life, does it?"
After I finished laughing for about twenty-five minutes I sadly had to inform my daughter that yes. Yes it does and not only does it happen that way in real life, it was likely going to be eight billion times worse for her because she was born with a vagina.
She was appalled. Furious. Demanded to know exactly what did I mean by this? What did I mean her life would be less fair because she was a girl?
So I told her. Not all of it, because you can't ever tell all of it. But I told her. I told her about the jobs I got passed by for, because I was young and I was a woman not because I wasn't qualified and not because I wouldn't have worked my proverbial butt off. I told her about having the exact same degree and far more experience as someone who was called my boss and having to do all his work all the time because he had no idea what he was doing. I told her about being in an office with a group of men who would berate me on a regular basis because there was no coffee. I don't even drink coffee and I'm surely not going to make it and if I did make it? I promise you wouldn't like it. I told her about this one time that I had been at work since 7am and this jerkwad idiot who waltzed in around 11:30am stopped me at the door when I was rushing out at 5:30pm because I was going to be late to pick her and her brother up if I didn't leave right that second and asked me if I would make copies for his meeting the next morning. Never mind I wasn't his secretary, didn't even work for him. and never mind he was standing right next to the copy machine and could have made his own copies. I said to him, "I have to go pick up my children" and he said, in a voice absolutely dripping with sarcasm, "Fine. Go pick up your children". He seriously, seriously believed that merely because I was a girl I should be falling all over myself to make his copies and I'm still mad about this, seven years later.
"None of that is fair," my daughter told me.
I agreed. I also told her life wasn't fair.
"I'll just start my own company," she told me. "I'll treat people the same. If you work hard, that's what matters. Not what gender you are."
"What will you do at your company?" I asked.
"I don't know yet," she said. "But it'll be great."
It will be. I know it. I still believe that it can be different for my daughter. That she can work in whatever field she wants, even if it's a male-dominated field, and still be treated with dignity and respect. I married a man who does laundry and cooking and respects my work. My daughter does not understand when other families are not like ours. I'm glad she doesn't understand that. I'm glad that my daughter is the type of girl who when she was five years old didn't color in the picture of Martin Luther King Jr.'s wife because she wasn't sure what color she was. The type of young lady who asked me last week to help her seek out volunteer opportunities...asked if I would be willing to give her a ride. The type of kid who participates in a day of silence to end bullying of gay and lesbian students. The girl who sees everyone, male or female, regardless of color or religion or political group, as equal.
I want to believe that people like my daughter will change the world.
I want even more to believe that by the time my daughter is thirty-seven, things like this won't even be an issue anymore.
That is what I want to believe.
"I know it will be great," I told her. "I know it."
It will be. Whatever it is. It will be.