Last month, our annual Brooklyn Fresh Air Fund trip to Chez Oddmother lead to our semi-annual McDonald’s drive-thru lunch.
(Oh, come and get me Sanctimommies. My kids love the Apple Dippers.)
After I gritted my teeth and put in the request for two Happy Meals, I heard the strangest response through the scratchy loudspeaker.”
“Boy or girl.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, trying to figure out if there was suddenly some new version of apples that appealed to one sex or the other.
“Boy or girl.”
Suddenly it clicked. “Do you mean…for the toy? Boy or girl toy?”
“Yes,” she mumbled back, surely wondering who the idiot was on the other end of the speaker.
I quickly scanned the menu board to see what she might be referring to. For boys: Some kind of awesometastic space fighting Ben 10 something or other that looked BIG and FUN and had the word ALIEN in the name and arms that moved–basically something that could help the kids kill a few hours in the car without DVDs.
For girl: A keychain with a sparkly shoe on it from Sketchers. (Hours of fun!)
“The Ben 10 one” I said as quietly as I could into the speaker.
“What?” she asked.
“Boys,” I said a little louder. “Boys.”
Now my girls heard me.
“Why did you say boys, Mommy? Why don’t you tell them we’re girls?”
And that’s when I was got pissed at McDonald’s. For letting my daughters think that there’s something wrong with them if they’d have more fun with a toy that said boy on it. For training the employees at the register to ask boy or girl instead of saying Awesome Ben Ten Alien toy or dumb keychain. For making me have an uncomfortable conversation about why so many marketers don’t think a whole lot about our daughters, when my blood sugar was already low and all I wanted to do was inhale my mediocre chicken sandwich and get back on the road.
It’s not that I hate sparkly key chains or pink tulle or princess tiaras. Not by a long shot. It’s just that our girls hardly seem to have a choice these days.
So I turned around to face the back seat, and tried to explain, best I could, that the one called “boy” wasn’t actually just for boys and that the woman behind the counter was mistaken.
I struggled a bit with the worlds as I tried to describe how sometimes there are people who are lazy and don’t think, and so they take all things sparkly and pink and call them “girl toys” because they forget sometimes that girls also like to dress up like superheroes and build things and climb trees and use their brains. And sometimes these same people forget that boys like to wear nailpolish just like your friend Bryan does, and sometimes they like to read about fairies and princesses and wear pretty clothes or go to ballet class wearing pink tights like your friend Asher does.
“Well that’s not fair!” Thalia exclaimed.
“And I can be Geo!” Sage said. Because she always is Geo.
So I smiled, suddenly reminded of just how awesome my kids are.
And how this next generation just might be able to change the things we weren’t able to.