I was a Barbie girl. Yes, I hounded my sister daily to play Barbies with me. She hated it. I of course still persisted. I probably had 10 different Barbies and one Ken doll to go along with them. I am not sure what ever made me want to play with Barbie. It is hard to see in hindsight as I am so far from a Barbie girl these days. I, of course, did not see that their feet were set in a previous high heel position, or that getting their high heels on was nearly impossible. Is that why I hate high heels today?
One of mine had a fake tan (I think she was called Bikini Barbie), another was Exercise Barbie with her own workout outfits, one had a fancy dress, another was Bride Barbie, but other than their differing outfits they all looked the same — not much to differentiate them from the other. I know I made up different scenarios and enjoyed trying to create different clothing options — so maybe I was interested in design and had no idea. Other than that I do not remember why I was so enamored with Barbie.
Fast forward to 2015 and Barbie launches this new ad that is not about fashion and looks, but rather teaching, sports, and taking care of animals. It goes deeper. While maybe it feels like the adults looking on are laughing at them, I wonder if the laughing is fascination with what is coming out of each girls mouth. I am not sure what a young girl would think if they watched this ad, but I hope that the message at the end: “When a Girl Plays with Barbie She Imagines Everything She Can Become.” My hope is that a girl does not have to just play with Barbie, but that when a girl plays at all her imagination lets her create the world around her so she sees all she can be.
Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.
Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.
Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.
And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.
On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to the “2014 SMART Gala: Dinner, Auction and ‘Make a Difference’ Paddle Raise.” There were a few reasons I was interested in going. One, we never dress up. Last October, Chris purchased his first suit ever in the decade + we have been married, and I purchased a sassy dress, and gulp: high heels. I am not a high heel kind of woman. I think there was a time in my life when I might have gone down that yellow brick road, but that time has long passed. I can manage in high heels for a few hours, but the end of that night means a foot massage is due. I seriously do not know how Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda did it for so many years, especially in New York City. My own experience concludes that a city block in New York is much longer than a city block in Portland.
I digress. The dressing-up part was fun, and I was hoping to end up with some glamorous photos of me and my better half, but the lighting sucked. So here is a so/so photo. So back to the Gala. The second reason I was interested in going is the charity event itself. SMART stands for Start Making A Reader Today, here is an excerpt from their website:
“One child at a time. One volunteer at a time. One book at a time. Since 1992, SMART has been pairing caring, adult volunteers with children in need of reading support and books to take home and keep. SMART volunteers read one-on-one with students weekly during the school year, modeling a love of reading and building children’s reading skills and self-confidence in a positive, child-driven environment.”
The event included a silent auction, raffle, and live auction, and at the end of the night they had estimated that we raised over $400,000! I was impressed with the span of ages, and the amount of money that was dropped in the name of literacy. One couple gave $25,000 and offered to match another $25,000 if enough folks contributed during that auction — and they did. Timber Joey (the Portland Timbers mascot) was in attendance, and was part of the live auction. The prize? Timber Joey and one of the players would come and read at the school of your choice.
Such fun. I am grateful for all the individuals that donated money to support children, books, and reading. A cause near and dear to my heart.