We had a tragic accident at our house recently.
Train engineers the size of wine corks (where is my mind?!) tend to escape my 1st pass of throw-various-toys-into-various-boxes-so-I-can-walk-on-level-ground-in-my-own-home. So J’s esteemed engineer was marooned on our floor, only to be crunched under one of our giant feet. It was a grisly injury to be sure, but I felt confident in my skills once I found where the head had rolled off to.
As I was holding the head in place for the 3rd time, cursing myself for not having the patience to let the glue set, I had an idea. And as I tried unsuccessfully to peel the ripply crust of superglue off of my fingers, I decided that this was the best idea I had ever conceived.
You see, I’ve been having a daily battle in my mind, since J was very young. It is a battle with pronouns. I started to resent his children’s books, which were so casually saturated with male characters. Male humans. Male trucks. Male ducks. I decided that I could provide some strategic revisions to his stories, replacing the “he” and “his” with “she” and “hers.” And any resistance I got in the form of, “But that’s a boy, Momma,” I would just quash with my explanation of how some boys have long hair and wear dresses and some girls have short hair and wear dungarees.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I started to hear my own thoughts, and how dominant and automatic the “he” was. So I started “she-ing” birds we saw, and garbage collectors and worms.
Naturally, I had to “she” the engineer.
I had some internal criticism with myself over whether the haircut was too girly, but ultimately decided that I wanted anyone else playing with the toy to see that it was an engineer lady, so I went with the fringe-y bangs and bob.
I must say, the result has thrilled me. Every time J is padding through our house saying “My engineer, where is she?” I feel a warm, relaxing tingle in my belly. Because more than wanting J to know that women can be engineers and that girls can play trucks, I want him to just see those things as a casual matter of fact.
And I make sure of it by giving human action figures the Sharpie treatment the moment they cross our threshold.