Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have a daughter, and some other moms of daughters and I have started getting together at a local playground at a set time each week. Recently a mom of a boy brought her son to the playground at the same time we were there. I asked her (nicely, I thought) if she would mind leaving because we had wanted it to be a girls-only time. She refused and seemed angry at me. If she comes back, is there a better way I can approach her? This has been such a sweet time for moms and daughters, and having a boy there is naturally going to change things. We live in a world where boys get everything and girls are left with the crumbs, and I would think this mom would realize that, but she seems to think her son is entitled to crash this girls-only time. I know I can’t legally keep her from a public park, but can I appeal to her better nature?
Carolyn says: Can I appeal to your better nature?
Shooing off the mom and her boy was terrible. And justifying it as a cosmic correction, for which an innocent child bears the weight? And still trying to do this even after you’ve had time to think about it? Wow.
That kid is a human being — not with privileged little man feelings, either, but with feelings, period. Perhaps even a disposition that fits better into your idea of girl behavior than some of the girls there. People are not widgets. And the adult you shooed off is a mom, possessor of the same crumbs you’ve been fed, no? So don’t you think she would have just liked to hang with some fellow moms in the park?
I mean, maybe not now. I’d avoid you thereafter if it were my kids you boy-shamed — for wanting to play with girls, by the way. As if they were fellow people or something.
If you’re going to have an exclusive gathering, then host it on private property.
And if you’re going to accuse anyone of being “entitled,” then ask yourself who just asked the world to bend to whom.
Re: Girls-only playdate
My fifth-grade boy has always gravitated to playing with girls. Please don’t group all boys into a stereotype of being disruptive or playing a different way than girls play. You do kids a disservice by not treating them as the individuals they are.
To: Playground drama:
I have two kids, a boy and a girl, and consider myself an extreme feminist, for whatever that’s worth; I just think that women should be treated like humans, but apparently that’s radical.
Think of it this way: You are perpetuating the exclusion of one sex over the other in society. Kids are kids. Adults teach them that one sex is different from the other, or only gets to do certain things. You are doing the same, but at the expense of a little boy who wanted to play on a playground.
Carolyn says: Yes — equality, not payback. “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” – Gandhi
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.