Sitting on the floor, a metal bowl between my knees,
I gazed at her.
We were idly shelling peas.
It was a hot Thursday morning, middle of July.
Under the weight of the moment
I wanted to hold her and cry.
She was just shy of four and yet I wanted her to know
The movements, the effort required
long after the peas had grown.
As we worked the strings and pods, a thought occurred to me:
Will she be the only one left
When today’s basic needs are met with quick, short-sighted solutions
At base, I want her world of nourishment
to remain slow and undiluted.
Two small bags of bright green joy awaited our nimble fingers.
We took our time since it was early.
These lovely peas would be savored at dinner.
To free the small verdant orbs we had to work with care,
because once the ends were snapped,
they bounced everywhere.
The peas zinged against the cool metal sides and sometimes onto the floor.
As she laughed, the green beneath our nails linked us
Farm, family and fork.
She ate five or six as we slowly finished our task.
When she wanted more, she tested her newfound manners
by sweetly stopping to ask.
Sitting with her that hazy morning, the fourteenth of July,
I thought of what I traded to be there in that moment.
Much less than I ever realized.
Who else would show her how to celebrate the life and death of a pea?
Long before it’s been shelled and frozen,
and sold so casually.
It took me too long to figure out. I had it all wrong.
I grabbed the wrong yardstick too many years ago.
Life is best measured by quiet moments, full bellies and silly little songs.
Hours ticked away at a desk will never be worth more
Than what’s been left behind,
just to keep score.
Yes, I know it now, but it took a long while to see.
About as much time
as it takes
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem