Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hand Over a Whole Mango Please...

Included on the list of things my little girl has inherited from me are her eyes, the ability to roll her tongue, and a love of Free to Be… You and Me.

As a kid, I spent many happy hours listening to Marlo Thomas and Friends singing songs, telling stories and reciting poems. My brother, sister, and I even staged a live version at Thanksgiving one year. And now my old favorite is in heavy rotation on my daughter’s pink, pumpkin-shaped CD player.

I still know the album by heart, but I appreciate its gender equality message/agenda more now. My perspective has changed-- a point made most clear to me by one song, “Parents Are People.” Basically, the premise of the song is that both parents can be anything they want to be: moms can be doctors, drive taxis, or sing on TV; and dads can be writers, welders, or sail on the sea. The song points out that “when mommies were little, they used to be girls, like some of you, but then they grew and now mommies are grown-ups…” Of course, when I was little this song was about my parents and I imagined my mom as a rancher or a baker, my dad as a painter or a funny joke-teller. Now I’m the grownup. Yikes. How did that happen? (And what happened to the cool, anti-gender stereotyping job I was supposed to have?)

But children do forget that their parents were once kids (it’s so hard to imagine). Last month my son came home singing “Johnny and Suzie sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…” This playground classic was new to him and hilarious. He sang it over and over (and over and over), but the version he had picked up ended with “then came the baby in the baby carriage.” At some point I absentmindedly chimed in with the ending I grew up singing: “sucking his thumb, wetting his pants, doing the hula-hula dance.” The record scratched. My son’s expression was caught between utter amazement that I even knew the song and utter joy that I had introduced him to a new verse (and a subversive one at that).

Just wait until we get to “Miss Lucy.”

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