At the beach this morning I observed a young family making the most of the morning cool before the heat of the day.
Splashing knee high in the water was Mum, Dad, son about two and a half and daughter about one and a half. From an idyllic, peaceful and playful scene emerged some light weight conversation and then a turn of focus toward taking the children deeper into the water. Mum said “shall I take Josh and you take Melissa?” in a tone of voice that changed the dynamic completely. What ensued resembles an army barracks scene where orders were given, structures as a question yet offered no right of reply. This command was expected to be obeyed with no correspondence entered into. I obviously have no idea of their history and the circumstances preceding this event but none the less, it saddened me to witness playtime turned Nazi.
I wandered off into my own thoughts of the expectations we bring to any given situation based on our own upbringing, of what we observed of Mum and Dad were doing and saying and the gender roles they were fulfilling. We live in such different times today and the definition of roles are dramatically different. Yet, are they defined? Are they understood? Does each generation restructure and redesign new platforms based on their inherited expectations? Or bring overlays of innovation to change history altogether? Will little Josh and Melissa eventually play out similar challenges? I wonder!
© Patricia Herreen 2012