Take It and Run Thursday this week is a salute to running moms. I could write hundreds of blog entries about why I think it's important for me to be both a mother and a runner, how running makes me a better mom, what I hope Jack learns from my efforts, and so on. But today, I want to focus on how my fellow Mother Runners and I are taking on the rest of the world.
I absolutely hate it when McDonald's offers two different Happy Meal toys: one for boys and one for girls. I have spent the past four years making it clear that there are no toys that are just for girls or just for boys. If you want to play with a truck, fine. If you want to play with a doll, fine. Just play and have fun. But McDonald's sees things differently, offering My Little Pony for girls and Leggo stuff for boys. I prefer to bypass all of that crap and just ask Jack if he wants the horsey or the Leggos.
But at a recent visit, the McDonald's employee circumvented my efforts, handing Jack and toy and saying, "Here, this is for boys." It was a hand-held electronic sports game. Jack quickly looked at the display and saw that there were sports games and Hello Kitty games and that the sports ones were for boys. "That's cool," Jack said, "Because girls like Hello Kitty, but they don't really like sports."
Oh, hell no.
Jack lives in a home in which Daddy is just as likely to kiss boo boos as Mommy... and in which the most athletic of his parents is, in fact, Mommy. Girls don't like sports? You put Mommy and Daddy in a footrace, and we'll see who likes sports best and who's faster.
I sat Jack down and reminded him that plenty of girls like sports. Like his friends Emma, Kara, Avery, and Elizabeth who play soccer with him. Like the very strong and determined women who we watched run the Olympic marathon on TV. And, of course, like Mommy, who is a dedicated runner. He immediately saw the error of what he had said and thought it was silly that the sports games were given just to boys.
We running moms fight these sexist messages every single time we put on our running shoes. Every drop of sweat proves that women are not just for decoration, that we are athletes just like our male counterparts. My hope is that I am raising a boy who will not immediately dismiss girls when picking a kickball team, and a man who will respect the strength that women possess.