Life in Poland

Girl Power

Here are my girls. Lizzie is in the boy’s swimming trunks and cap with camo flip flops. And that’s cool. There’s Rosie by her side in her usual pink-on-pink attire with her gold princess flip flops and Dora sunglasses. And that’s cool too.
Here we are getting ready for a spin around central Pennsylvania.
Rosie is quite content to check out the beautiful views as a passenger.
Lizzie cannot imagine sitting in the back with all the passengers (all 4 of us). She’s a very happy co-pilot. That smile remained on her face for hours.
Lizzie’s next plan is to become a race car driver. She’s going to have a lot on her plate as she also intends to pursue a career as a firefighter/police officer/knight/cowboy/spider-man/pilot. That’s a lot of slashes.
Rosie wasn’t too interested. She plans to pursue a career of bossing people around, getting her own way and coloring the world pink.
My girls are their own people. They have their own interests and their own opinions. I think they can do anything and I think they are cool.
The girls heard a lot of opinions about them from my friends and family in the US. That’s only normal. They were meeting each other for the first time. (The girls had their opinions, too.) Lizzie especially got an earful from my father about how little girls should dress and apparently an “Angry Birds” t-shirt, paired with camo shorts and soccer socks, black sneakers and a baseball cap is how little girls should not dress. Luckily, Lizzie didn’t take it to heart even when Grandpa bought Rosie 5 pairs of very “little girl” shoes. By the end of the trip, Grandpa got to know Lizzie. He forgot about what’s best for little girls and got to know what’s best for Lizzie…and then he bought her a cool baseball cap and taught her and Rosie how to play baseball.
The girls watched a bit of TV in the States. They watched their absolute favorite Dinosaur Train (Dino Pociąg) in English. It was hard to get used to the characters in English. We’re so used to the Polish version (On a side note – our girls will not watch Scooby-Doo in Polish. They watched it the first time in English and then rejected the Polish version.) We also watched some cartoons that were completely new to the girls, but not any less annoying to the parents 😉 There was one cartoon that repeated a similar theme (or it was the same episode and we didn’t notice) – the “Girls Can Do Anything” theme. There was one very long and complicated episode in which the little girl character discovered that “girls can be scientists”. Rosie and Lizzie didn’t get it.
While flying, our fantastic pilot who has raised a few girls of his own told Lizzie that she was doing an excellent job as co-pilot and that girls make excellent pilots. Lizzie didn’t get it.
Does it make sense to try to build up the self-esteem of girls by telling them that “girls can do anything, be anything”? I mean, I tell my girls that they can do anything, be anything but I just leave out the “girl” part. Does addressing girls separately let girls know about the many paths open to them or does it just let them in on the little secret that girls often cannot do some things or be some things, for whatever reasons. My girls really didn’t know what all the hubbub was about having never heard a comment such as that before. That either means that it is so obvious in Poland that girls can do and be anything that nobody ever talks about it or, quite the contrary, it is so obvious that they in fact cannot do and be anything so it still is not necessary to talk about. Which is it?
I tend to think it is the former (so obvious that girls can do anything so it is unnecessary to comment on it) than the latter (so obvious that girls are incapable of many achievements that it is unnecessary to comment on it). Having said that, the matka Polka stereotype for adult women still runs strong in Poland in the minds of many men and women, regardless of education, income and family circumstances. Heck, it would be nice to live the dream, uh, I mean the stereotype – to have a wife waiting for me at home with my lovely children, lovely house and lovely dinner all for me…Oh right, I’m supposed to do that, to be that, not to have that.  I mean, we have lovely children and a lovely home and there’s sometimes a lovely meal waiting. Sometimes the lovely meal is waiting for Misiu and sometimes it is waiting for me. I don’t fulfill the ideal but I’m American. Place all the blame on me.

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  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I love this Cessna Caravan on the picture. There are no such planes in Poland, wonder why.Piotr

  • Reply
    August 20, 2012 at 1:16 am

    I really don't like the stereotype. It is true here too – just last week my neighbor was bragging that thank to his new well paying job his wife will be at home raising the kids- \”this is where he needs her to be and what she does the best for him\”. It made me quite mad. I am tired of hearing about the advantages of staying with the children at home. Everybody does what they can afford to do/like to do/want to do. And that is fine. I just don't like other people telling me that what they do is the best, and that somehow my child was deprived because he had to be in a daycare!Continue to tell your girls that they can do anything and be anything! I think sometimes you will need to mention the word \”girls\”, you will know when. Women are strong and invincible! My son's best friend is a girl. She loves to play with boys,she likes sports, and does not like to wear skirts and dresses. She has two sisters and they are not like her.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Your girls are lovely and so cute 🙂

  • Reply
    August 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Piotr – The fuel truck met us right after we landed. I wanted to see how many gallons it took to fuel the plane up, but I was too shy to ask. I cannot imagine the cost of keeping a hangar full of planes in working order.There are some private planes here at the airport but as far as I know they are much smaller.Kasia – You are right about people doing what they can afford to do, what they want to do or what they like to do. I try not to judge people on their choices.I think I would enjoy being a stay-at-home mother but I cannot deny the benefits of pre-school/day care for our daughters. They are happier, they play better, they eat better. And this year, Lizzie is going to 1st grade!Kama – Thank you for the compliment. I am really happy to be the mother of Lizzie and Rosie. They are great kids. Lizzie is ill today so I got a taste of the stay-at-home thing. Not so fun with a sick kid. I knew something was wrong when Rosie called from the other room, \”Mommy, come quick. There's wymiot everywhere.\” It's been wymiot, after wymiot, after wymiot all last night and all day today. Poor Lizzie.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I repeat every day to my daughter, that she can be whatever she wants. Not \”for a girl\”, just \”can be\”. But it Poland there's either a strong tendency to use \”for a girl\” phrase.

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