Children have such categorical, simple ways of seeing life.
It took me awhile to figure out who my son was talking about one day, as he described someone as the “neighbor’s mommy”. Since I knew he hadn’t met my (male) neighbor’s mother, I finally decided he must be referring to the neighbor’s common-law (now official!) wife. They did not have any kids at the time, so Jonathan’s comment confused me until I realized his world was simply divided into two categories: male and female. An adult man is a “Daddy” and that man’s wife is his “Mommy”. Simple.
My girls discussed this facet of life in the van this morning. “I’m going to be a Mommy when I grow up!” says Eliana. “And I’m going to be a Daddy!” says Sophia. “No,” I say…”You’re a girl, so you can’t be a Daddy, you’ll be a Mommy too.” No matter how much people try to rewrite this, it is still simple fact-of-life: only girls get to grow babies, and only boys have penises (you’d be amazed how often this comes up in conversation, I’ve really had to get over any shyness I ever had in discussing gender roles and body parts!).
I thought about all this as I was picking up my son from Kindergarten the other day. There was another man picking up his daughter in line in front of me (they have the cars all lined up and the kids don’t get released until the teacher actually sees the parent – takes time but it is safe!). Now, if I had seen this man anywhere else, I would not have thought “Daddy”. He was driving the big shiny pickup, with the big boy toy emblems, and his physical appearance was geared more toward “tough” than “cuddly”. And then I see him open the door, chuck in his daughter’s precious little blue backpack, and then buckle her in and drive away. Daddy. And I guess that my kids, although not understanding many aspects of life, do “get it” more than I do sometimes. There are “Daddies” and “Mommies” – Period. =D