Corde sometimes talks about the most random things. Usually it’s stuff that has to do with her new friend. I can honestly say that with some of it, I really want to tell Corde she shouldn’t play with this girl anymore, but there are life lessons to be had here. Corde’s got to learn how to deal with bossy people at some point. She’s got to learn to deal with people who don’t respect her or her family. That’s just part of life. Then there are some things that just make me tilt my head to the side and say, “Um…what?!?”
The most recent one happened this morning. Corde was just going on in her usual fashion about random things and told me that her friend didn’t know about Women’s Suffrage. She’d mentioned the suffrage movement because it’s something Corde is really interested in. She’s my little feminist. Like mother, like daughter, I guess. She loves telling her friends all about things she think are really cool. She could go on and on about hippies, environmentalism, and the feminist movement, of course. She’s all about feminism and the history of feminism. She thinks it’s horrible that women and men were held to different standards. We’ve done a lot of talking about why I refuse to be the standard “housewife”. I don’t mind being a part of a partnership, but one of the reasons Corde’s dad and I split was all the time I was working full time and he was at home, yet he was so depressed he wouldn’t do any of the cooking or cleaning unless I hounded him. It wasn’t fair and it felt as though he didn’t want to do anything that was a “woman’s job”. I’m very open and honest with Corde about the reasons for our separation and divorce because I believe she’s owed the truth, or at least as much as is appropriate for a girl her age to know. This has gotten her on her own feminist kick.
That’s when it came out that her friend thinks Women’s Suffrage never happened. Apparently she said, “Books lie, you know, except for dictionaries.” In other words, Corde might have read a book about it, but because she’d never heard about it, it couldn’t be true. It actually shocks me that this isn’t a subject that’s really taught in a lot of schools. Given women are still fighting for true equality in this country, I’m surprised it doesn’t come up as a more important point in history. One would think it would be important.
To Corde this was like blasphemy. How could anyone deny something existed because they simply didn’t know about it. Corde said, “She really needs to read more books.” This is especially funny as Corde hates reading. However, Women’s Suffrage is almost more important to Corde than the American Revolution.
This isn’t the first time Corde’s had to deal with her friends making things up or saying things weren’t true because they want to sound as intelligent as Corde. For example, Corde was told recently that tree frogs are poisonous, which isn’t true. Her friend has also told her things like cats can’t swim and traveling to another planet is impossible. While I will agree that cats don’t like to swim and we’re currently unable to travel to other planets, that doesn’t make either of those statements true. She’s been told Women’s Suffrage didn’t happen, and that the American Revolution didn’t include the French and had nothing to do with slavery. There’s also this whole idea that slavery was made up (which would probably tick off a lot of descendants of cultures that suffered through years of enslavement). It’s amazing what’s been filtered through the school system around here.
Corde has been pretty frustrated by the whole thing. She declared the other day, “Don’t these kids know anything? They keep telling me things that aren’t true and I think it’s because they’re jealous of how much I know and they really don’t know all that much at all apparently.” She’s got a point there. I wouldn’t say they know less than she does, but she does know a lot of things her friends will never learn in school, just because she wants to know. She’s a curious kid and I’d like to keep it that way.
At the same time, it really bothers me that these kids feel they need to lie and make things up just to make Corde feel dumb. It doesn’t work, thankfully. She either gets frustrated by how little they know and claim to know everything or she is curious if it’s really true. She doesn’t at all feel as though she’s not smart enough. If nothing else, I think it just makes her think I’m even more intelligent because I generally know all the answers.
This really says something to me about the competitiveness of public schooling. Children are pushed so much to compete with the rest of the class that they’re insulted when someone seems smarter than they are. I’ve had to struggle with this for quite some time. Other people take a lot of offense when I share my wealth of knowledge about anything. I don’t feel it should be that way at all. There’s no reason why I can’t know a lot about the things I know so much about, but other people know more about things that I don’t. That’s the balance of life. It should be balanced so that everyone is comfortable in what they know and feels free to explore other areas of interest. Before long everyone will know a whole lot of stuff simply because they wanted to know, not because they feel like they can’t ask because someone may know more than them.
Corde hasn’t quite decided what she’s going to do about the whole thing with her friend. She might just tell her that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She’s really tempted to tell her what the real facts are and leave it at that. Then again, she might just ignore it and let her friend feel smart so she doesn’t feel bad that she doesn’t know the same stuff Corde does. Whatever she does, she’s decided she’s not going to take what her friends say as truth. She’d rather back it all up with facts, and kids don’t know everything.