Navigating gender politics as a parent must be tricky business.
Attempting to check your own bias and bringing up feminist children in a world full of pink dolls and blue trucks is tiring stuff.
Inevitably, you have to pick your battles, and let certain things slide.
Lynne Polvino, however, was not in one of those moods when her daughter brought home homework which resembled something from the 60s.
Polvino, from New York, spotted the fill-in-the-blanks worksheet bore some pretty terrible gender stereotypes and posted the offending article on her Facebook page. It read:
Lisa was not happy her mother was back at work. Before Lisa was born, her mother worked in a big office. Yesterday, she told Lisa that she was going back to work. The morning was terrible. Lisa had to get to school on time. Her father had to get to work on time. And now, her mother was in a rush, too. Lisa's father made breakfast, it was not too good. And he asked Lisa to wash the dishes. That was no too good either. Lisa did not like her day at school. On the way home, she thought about it. 'I wonder what time Mommy will come home, I will be lonely at home.' But when Lisa arrived at home, there was her mother. 'I leave the office early so we can be together after school,' she said. Lisa feels fine now.
Firstly, why can't Lisa's mum talk in the right tense?
Also, why can't Lisa's dad make breakfast?
Also, way to get children enthused about their mum supporting the family financially and living her own goddamn life.
Thankfully Lynne gave the homework a little re-write, where they live in world of equal opportunity, and parental support :
Lisa was happy, her mother was back at work. Before Lisa was born, her mother worked in a big office. Because it valued her important contributions to the workplace, her employer offered nearly a year of paid maternity leave and flex time upon her return. The morning was wonderful. Lisa had to get to school on time. Her mother had to get to work on time. Her father was home on his paid paternity leave, caring for Lisa's younger brother and contributing equally to the running of the household. No one was in a rush because Dad had things firmly under control. Lisa's father made breakfast. It was very good and he had Lisa wash the dishes because all functional humans should learn to clean up after themselves and help others. Lisa liked her day at school. She enjoyed the play-based learning and small student-to teacher ration in her state-of-the-art public school classroom. Her teachers were well paid and happy. On the way home, she thought about it. 'I wonder if I will become and engineer like Mommy when I grow up, or a teacher, or something else. I can do anything!' When Lisa arrived home, there was her mother. Lisa had spent the afternoon at her free federally-funded after school enrichment program, where they offer Lego robotics and painting, and now her whole family was home together. Lisa was glad she was growing up in a society free of gender bias and misogyny. Lisa feels fine now.
So far the Facebook post has been shared 72 times and has 2.8k likes.
It turns out Lynne Polvino is a working mum herself, and is actually an editor, which makes a lot of sense.
According to Today, Polvino has two kids, and this homework was for her first-grade daughter, Hazel.
Lynne decided not to send the rewrite to the school in Queens, but did email them voicing her concerns - they have since promised to review some of their worksheets.
She told Today that she has been an editor longer than a mother, and although she knew doing both would be tough, never saw it as an option to stop.
I have so much respect for all the working moms of past generations who had to deal with this type of crap on a regular basis! I'm so grateful to them for paving the way.
Well, if kids keep getting sent homework like this nothing much is going to change. Props to Lynne for calling out what she saw.