I’ve been thinking a lot about mementos – those everyday objects that take on importance when attached to a special event. I’ve got storage bins full of the kids’ scrapbooks and even more file drawers with mementos waiting to be organized – my kids’ math sheets and spelling tests and post cards; little crafts from an event at the library; valentine cards from a classroom party. My husband reminds me that I don’t have time to organize these little things, and I agree, I probably don’t, and yet I continue to collect and cherish these things. Why? Because besides triggering important memories, mementos sometimes show us lessons about life.
My daughter and I spent the week at our church’s VBS organized by members of a church in Alabama who traveled to New Hampshire to run the camp. I was a volunteer running the drama portion and she was a happy camper. She played hard – making friends, creating arts & crafts, painting, taking endless turns on an inflatable waterslide, and learning about Jesus’ parables. Here’s the only photo I took of the week – she’s learning how to shoot a BB gun – and here’s a scan of her completed target from that afternoon.
I was surprised when she told me that target-shooting was her favorite activity. It might be the novelty, but in our house we’ve also been talking about “boy” and “girl” activities. When shopping for a raincoat recently, she asked me if I think she’s a “tom boy” because she liked the blue raincoat. It’s new territory for her – in second grade, boys and girls aren’t yet segregated for activities and she enjoys friendships with both sexes. So gender roles were already on my mind as I’ve worked with the kids during the drama activities. Scripture teaches that our Triune God created male and female in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and one of the lessons from that is that there are unique traits, gifts, energies and perspectives that each gender brings to the mix that reflect God’s character, and these traits can develop when we are in relationships with one another.
Any parent will agree that boys and girls are different, but I don’t believe there is one mold that supports gender bias in behavior. Certainly we want our sons to exhibit a gentleness and compassion that we might more contribute to girls; likewise we want our daughters to embrace a confidence and boldness that we might describe as a male trait. Honestly I’m still mulling it over – all of the children displayed an unbridled joy and exuberance, courage to try new things, creativity, obedience when shooting guns, and compassion with new friends. I was proud. In my youth, activities and behavior were definitely labeled masculine or feminine; as a young girl I was encouraged to settle down, be quieter, and more ladylike.
I don’t want my daughter to label herself and I’ll encourage her to continue to become the individual she’s meant to be in God’s image. And I’ll probably hang her completed target on the wall behind my desk…next to the first board she broke in karate. #CHERISHED