Friday, August 30, 2013

When I Grow Up


A lifetime ago, I wrote an essay for the finals about women being equal to men for a Public Speaking Class in high school. I recited the essay to the class. Some of the girls patted me on my back; most of my classmates frowned. However, I received an A in the finals.
Today, you do not have to talk about Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem; we see women walking the same paths as men, shoulder to shoulder. Early in life, children need to learn to respect and see women as people---no matter where they work. A woman is the foundation of a family; the more educated and stronger she is, the better will be her children, her family, and the society.

This story has four girls of different races sharing the same love for their dolls and playing together. 

Nine-year-old, Sagar makes five-year-old, Sapna feel better about their stay-at-home mom.  


When I Grow up
bhaiya (Hindi) = brother

One Friday afternoon, six-year-old Mia, Julia, Bonita and five-year-old Sapna were playing at Sapna’s house. After a snack of carrots and peanut butter, they ran to the den and took out their dolls from their school bags.
Sapna’s older brother, nine-year-old Sagar, sat in a corner doing his homework.
Mia said, “This is my favorite doll.”
Julia said, “I like the dress she’s wearing.”
Mia said, “It’s a Japanese Kimono, a special dress from my mom’s home in Japan. Julia, I like your doll’s doctor-dress too.”
Bonita said, “That’s a doctor’s coat. Julia’s Mom is doctor.” Bonita took out the little barrettes from her own hair and put them in her doll’s hair.
Julia said, “Yep, she’s veterinarian.”
Mia said, “Yeah, a veterinarian works with animals and my mom works with kids, she’s a pediatrician.”
Bonita said, “Hey, my mom works with kids too. She is a school principal.”
Sapna brushed her doll’s hair and said, “Well, I’m a vegetarian too. My whole family is vegetarian.”
Julia said, “You may be in the first grade with us, but you don’t know anything. My mom’s a veterinarian, not a vegetarian.”
The three girls burst into laughter. Crestfallen, Sapna looked down and kept quiet.
Mia said, “Sapna, our moms work outside the home just like our dads. Your mom is always at home.”
Bonita said, “Yeah, we always get such tasty treats. I love her cheese dip and chips. Your mom’s a great cook.”
Sapna said, “She works in an office.” She pointed to a room across the den.
Julia said, “Yeah, my mom also checks her emails and talks with my brother on a computer.”
Sapna said, “Uh, but my mom works in her office.”
The girls shrugged.
Mia said, “Hey, let’s teach our dolls the new computer game I got for my birthday.” Mia took out her I-pad from her school bag. Everyone crowded around her.  A doll in their lap, they took turns to play the game.
Soon, it was time to go home. Sapna’s mom came out of her office when the parents came. The girls collected their bags and dolls and left for their homes with their parent. Sapna’s mom went back to her work.
Sapna banged the front door shut, threw her doll on the floor, and ran to her room.
Sapna’s mom looked up from the computer.
Sagar picked up the doll. He came into mom’s office. “Things are under control, mom. May I borrow your scarf?”  Before she could answer, he picked up the scarf from the back of her chair.
On his way to Sapna’s room, Sagar wrapped the scarf like a bandana, around the doll’s head. He knocked on his sister’s door.
“Hey, Sapna, Emperor Akbar and advisor Birbal wish to talk with you.”
Sapna said, “Go away. I don’t want your crazy story of some Emperor from India.”
Sagar said, “At least take a look at your Emperor doll.”
Sapna rushed to the door and threw it open, “Bhaiya, don’t even touch my doll.”
Sagar said, “Kiddo, I found her crying on the den floor.”
 “So? She’s just a doll—she just stays in the house, like mom.”
“Sis, what do you think mom does when she’s in the house?”
“She talks to her friends on the computer, on her cell and cooks.”
“Okay, Sapna, who picks you up from school and who goes with your class on your trips?”
 “Who picked up Bonita from school when she sprained her ankle?”
“Mom. Big deal, so she helps out people. She’s always at home.” Sapna made a face.
“Tell me, why do your friends come to our house after school?”
“I told you Bhaiya, mom is always home, and we have a big house.”
“Yeah, lots of moms stay at home, that's good for their children. Our mom's also always home, and the size of the house does not matter. Your as well as my friends’ parents can count on our mom in an emergency.”
“Count on her?
“Yeah, they know she’ll be there when they need her.”
Sapna kept quiet and fiddled with her hair.
“Have you ever gone in mom’s office?”
“It’s dad’s office.”
“Kiddo, our parents share an office. Our mom went to school just like dad and they run a company that makes computer games for children. Not the scary games, but the fun ones.”
“They do?”
“Yep, our mom and dad come up with ideas for lots of computer games, the educational computer games. They sell these ideas to different companies. These companies make the computer games for children all over the world.”
“Goody, then our mom is not a vegetarian?” Sapna clapped.
“Oh, we are all vegetarian because we don't eat meat of any kind. Even though she was an engineer, just like many moms she stayed home with us for many years and loved it. Then she went back to school and got a degree in education. Now she stays at home to be with her children and does business when we are at school.”
“I want to be an engineer when I grow up. Bhaiya, I want my Emperor doll back.” Sapna smiled and grabbed her doll from Sagar’s hands.

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

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