We have three children, a boy of 12 and girls of 11 and 9. We talk – they have views. Strong views, at times. We chat with our children openly about gender issues, violence, mental health, sexuality and endless other topics that so many either avoid completely, or only feel safe to whisper about behind closed doors. I pass no judgement on other parents’ decisions; selecting when it is the right time to talk with children is an individual choice. I find it bemusing when others feel justified to comment on our conversation topics with the children, but perhaps their judgements originate from that place of insecurity within all of us as parents.
I worry more about my daughters in terms of their safety, their self-esteem, their empowerment and the messages they are getting from home, the media and society about who they should be. I asked my daughters if they would like to be part of this blog, and both were eager. The little one said “I would be honoured, Mama!” To protect my children’s identity online, I let the girls choose names for themselves. Curiously, both chose …. sort of ‘stage’ names. The 11 yr old chose “Candy-Rose”*, the 9 year old “Bambi”.
*I was instructed that the ‘a’ in Candy-Rose is to be written as a lollipop and the ‘o’ as a flower, but the IT is letting me down.
The girls chose a range of topics and then I spoke with them each on their own to make sure they gave their own answers (or the younger one would copy!)
What’s growing up like for boys?
Bambi – Sometimes they can get hormones a lot and they might get a bit angry.
Candy-Rose – They go through a stage where they can get moody and aggressive and start to lose other people’s opinion.
What is growing up like for girls?
Bambi – It could be stressful for them, they might get upset that nobody likes them.
Candy-Rose – Girls can have body-hate and low self-esteem. And feel excluded, like on their own. They can be not-sure about stuff, from like what to eat for breakfast to like what to do with boys.
What is equality?
Bambi – It’s 50% to women and 50% to men, and men and women can do the same things. Sometimes we have equality but like for football [at school], boys say “I’m going on the pitch today because I’m a boy”.
Candy-Rose – Stuff like comparison, people comparing people to others…..Some days, some children come in with new pencil cases and say they went shopping, and that puts a lot of pressure on the children who don’t get treated much because there’s no money. Nowadays, there are a lot of sayings like “Girl Power” which is really good but then some boys can’t get over the fact that in some subjects girls are better, and they don’t like it and they can get feisty.
Bambi – Puberty can be a bit tricky and a bit embarrassing… because when you get your… like, period ….. and it leaks and you don’t have one of them little things, a sanitary towel, then you might get a bit embarrassed.
Candy-Rose – Different for different people….like some people have it at 10 or an older up age. It can be very hard on children if you don’t have people to go to and talk about it. If you don’t have the right equipment like if you don’t have a shaver and you have like pretty much a beard, and you have to go to school with it and you get an award in assembly in front of the school…..it’s damaging for the child. I think my biggest worry is if I’m at school and I get my period and I have no one to go to.
Bambi – A boy assaults a girl, makes them have sex and they’re mean and they don’t purposefully say “Do you want to do this as well?”…. They just say “Right, we’re doing this now.”
Candy-Rose – I don’t think everyone knows the actual meaning of rape and I think some people just joke about it. Like when I was in class and I walked in the gap behind a girl and she said “Oh geez, CR, don’t rape me!” And I said to her“Don’t joke about it.”
Bambi – He is creating most of the problems of equality and stuff…..He’s offensive because he says like ‘It doesn’t matter much about consent’ and he’s building a wall even though the people in Mexico don’t want him to…….
Candy-Rose – He’s just crazy! I don’t think how he thinks people will listen to him and I don’t get how people voted for him in America. He has no care for the environment or people. What did the world do to him that he has that anger in him to do that to America? If it were me, I’d be honoured to be leader of America, absolutely honoured. Obama was so great how he listened to his people. Trump – he just doesn’t care less. How he can have so much hatred for women to say “Grab them by the…” you know, that phrase — to be like that is so stupid. They need to get some common sense into him. He needs to listen to the people, and the children….and most of all, the women.
Bambi- If someone says no, no means no, don’t persuade them…and that if you really loved them you wouldn’t force them into anything.
Candy-Rose – Not all people think consent is important. It doesn’t just mean the women just saying “yes” because they might have been pressured, or really drunk. If the woman isn’t sure about it or is unconscious or feeling pressured, or doesn’t want to do it, or is drunk – that’s rape. So what you need is for the girl to be really happy about it. Or it is not consent, and then the man will fight about it in court. But being pressured into saying “……okay then……” is not consent.
What would make growing up as a girl perfect?
Bambi – That boys be nicer and not that rough. And that the world was made out of chocolate.
Candy-Rose – If there was a heart detector so it would detect when a girl is ready to kiss a boy or live with them or marry them…. and if they’re not, then the boy can’t come within a metre of them like a forcefield…..and the heart detector would always give a true reading of the girl’s feelings.
‘Candy-Rose’ and ‘Bambi’, Home Spa Day, July 2016