I was walking with my son to the car after a community meeting when out of the blue this wise little not quite eight year old boy says "Some women need to be less concerned about being beautiful".
I pondered this for a few steps and asked why he said that.
He said that some women only think about being beautiful but that they need to think about other things too. I asked him what kinds of things. He said "They need to think about being nice, and doing good things, things like that mommy".
He had spent the whole day dealing with a pretty high fever, though completely in the absence of women who might provoke such an observation, meaning that I had not been near any women whose main concern was being beautiful.
I asked a few more questions. No, mommy was not a woman concerned about being beautiful, mommy was concerned about a lot of important things. He wasn't thinking about anyone in particular. He just thought some women could be nicer and more helpful is all.
I walked to my car pondering this rather out of the blue statement of his.
Since he was born he has, more often than not, gone to board and community meetings with me. He learned how to crawl, really quickly crawl, at a board meeting... he made the transition from a rolling baby to a crawling one as I helped define a mission statement and chased him down the hallway.
When I was a new mom, I read the book Freakonomics. In it there was a discussion on raising readers and the suggestions based on some data that perhaps reading to your child was not as important as it was to model reading behavior. I figured if that was the truth, then modeling behavior was very important and at that point I must have made a mental mind note to make sure to impress upon him things that were important to me.
One thing I value very highly is service to the community (both the one in which I live and the ones I love) and with that in mind, I took him to everything with me. Many times to the disgusted looks of a few other women; you know the kind... the ones who see volunteering as a means to escape family obligations and have a chance to drink wine and complain about others. Thankfully, a few have been considerate to my doing this. It also helps that he is rather well behaved and does not mind sitting aside and playing on a computer.
What has really become the most important thing to me is that my son understands what it means to make things happen around him. I know he understands that he is very lucky and I can see that he is starting to understand that he has a moral obligation to the community he lives in to try and make a difference. I know he is a child and this is pretty heavy stuff. But I don't force him to handle this as if he were an adult. I allow him to come to these experiences as the child he is.
I am excited to see how he takes this knowledge as he grows up and develops his own passions.