Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playmobil Privilege

My kids are on a Playmobil tear right now.  You know, the posable people with cool sets like airplanes, horse trailers, knights castles and pirate ships?

The sets encompass just about anything kids could ever want to pretend.  They are well made, durable and easy to manipulate.  There are animals galore.  The kids easily afford them with their allowance. It seems like everything about Playmobil should be perfect for our family.

Yet I have this sense of unease about Playmobil in my home.  I think I finally figured it out last night.

Playmobil figures represent a most insidious kind of racism and privilege to me.  Every set and character reflects the idea that "normal" people doing "normal" things are white.  The airport people.  The RV folks. The pirates.  The knights and princesses. The horse farm. The soccer team.

It's only once we get into the specialized sets that we buy brown people. The pyramids.  The wild west Indians. Occasionally, there is a token brown person in a set.  Of course, you can buy a set of African American or Hispanic family.  But they're not normal.  You have to search them out, and there is only one set.

So you can't have a black princess in a beautiful dress or a brown knight in chain mail.  And if you and your Playmobil girlfriend want to go riding on your horses together, you have to be twins because there's really only one black girl. Even the soccer set comes with all white guys.  Soccer!?!  There are for sure more brown soccer players in the world than white, and at least around here if we see a group of men playing soccer, a large number of them are people of color.

Where does that leave my darling black 7 year old?  With the clear information that she's not normal, that   she's the token piece off to the side, that she isn't really invited to dream herself into the largeness of all the world has to offer.

And that makes me sick to my stomach.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Anniversaries

Yesterday Bill and I celebrated 14 years of marriage.  It's a big deal.  Being married isn't always an easy thing, and we've certainly had our ups and downs over the years.  I'm proud of us and happy to be married to him.

We left the kids with our ever capable and delightful housemate.  Then we took the train to the far away and exotic downtown Seattle.  Only 15 minutes from our own home we enjoyed the sunshine, delightful views, great food and each other's company (and a whole 24 hours without kids!!!!!).

Today is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the one that gives women the right to vote.  I'm happy about it, too.  Like my marriage there are ups and downs with progress for women. Currently, I'm feeling less that pleased about our over all progress. Just today, two things are getting me down:
- Women being raped in their homes still qualifies as a joke.
- From Teaching Tolerance, a Southern Poverty Law Center publication:
Of course, women still have plenty to fight for, especially when it comes to economics. Most of them still get little respect in the job market. In 2008, the four top occupations for U.S. women were: secretary (or administrative assistant), K-8 schoolteacher, registered nurse and cashier. Even when women get jobs in male-dominated occupations, they still earn less.
Happy Anniversary to us.  May both our marriage and women's rights continue to blossom and grow in the coming years.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Week To Myself

Ahhhh.  The kids are in soccer camp this week from 9-3. Ahhhhh.

At 8:30, we walk over the the local park where I drop them off for 6 hours of soccer and swimming in the lake. No driving!  How lovely is it that one of the great soccer organizations in town chose our little park for their camp?

Theo declared this the best camp he's ever been to.  Besides being soccer obsessed right now, Theo adamantly insists that the coaches are the nicest he's ever met.  Bill and I suspect that Rosie plays soccer because her brother loves it. Still, it's good clean fun, and she's running around 4 hours a day, so I'm not going to argue with her choice.

My goal for the week is to clean off my desk.  I found the surface of it sometime in January, but 8 months of piling all the stuff I don't quite have time for and the things I'm not sure where to put has rendered it avalanche worthy.

To that end I'm going to Half Price books and the candle/lotion making supply store today.  Naughty Sara!

In all fairness, yesterday I doggedly worked the book issue in our home because I couldn't even walk over to my desk for the bags and piles blocking the way.  We all love books, and it shows by the hundreds of books shelved, stacked and stashed everywhere someone can find to put one.  I managed to clear out 2 boxes of books I'm just not willing to read aloud (boring or poorly written) from our huge bookshelves. On the advice of a friend, I put 3 bins of books in the basement to cycle around to again in a few months.

6 hours a day is a giant treasure and gift to myself.  While there are things I need to DO, I'm also aware that getting back into the swing of the school year, coupled with Bill's heavy fall travel schedule takes a toll on me.  So I'm also making that space to take time to enjoy myself, the sunshine and friends for this week.

I hope that today you, too, will make the space to take care of yourself even if just for a moment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why's My House Shaking?

Yesterday my afternoon nap was suddenly and rudely interrupted by two large bangs that shook our house.  My first thought, of course, centered around some experiment or new scooter jump set off by the kids.  Nope, they were quietly reading books.  A quick check-in at the neighbor's house confirmed the boom and shaking wasn't just my home, but the whole neighborhood. But nobody knew what it happened.

Neither did anyone else at homeschool park day, though several other people in far off neighborhoods had experience it, too.

Today's news revealed that the noise was the result of sonic booms set off by 2 fighter jets sent from Portland to intercept a float plane that violated closed airspace during President Obama's visit. I guess the float plane pilot and passenger were as surprised as the rest of us.

Almost as surprising as the booms, at least to me, was the fact that President Obama came to town.  Maybe I need to add the local newspaper to my RSS feed.