How it grows

Close the gate

Good farmers know what it takes to grow good crops. They know seed, fertilizers, herbicides, soil conservation measures, moisture content, machinery requirements and all the rest.

Knowing how to grow good crops is not something you can be born with, and keeping up with the changes in practices, technology and chemicals means continuing education.

Farmers get the latest information from reading farming publications, attending seminars, visiting with the agronomist at their local co-op and, more likely than not, from word of mouth from other farmers as to what works and what does not. Keep up, or risk being left in the dust. It is true with farming as well as with parenting and child care.

I spent the last year as secretary for the Family Child Care Professionals of South Dakota Inc. You want to talk about a dedicated bunch of folks? They are it. It was my pleasure, even in my diminished capacity, to help with our annual Child Care Conference.

The most important aspect of a child care conference is to offer quality continuing education for those who attend. Networking among providers comes a close second. A minimum number of related education hours along with keeping current in CPR and first aid are required in all states for anyone who works in a regulated child care setting. New legislation will be changing some things up and we'll stay current with what comes down the pike.

There were nearly 250 people who attended at least one day of our “Ignite” seminar. About 95 percent female, they ranged in age from 18 to 70 and, though some were there to just get in their hours of required training, there were many more of us who attended to go above and beyond these minimums to stay current in our practices and put forth our best effort for the children in our care because that's what we do — care.

I wrote some thoughts about gender labeling a couple of weeks ago, but since a class I attended, I feel even stronger about it and want to share more.  

We know that growing domestically hopeless men with highly gendered expectations doesn't cut it any more. We want to grow good, balanced men right from the start so the boys in our care can find happy stable relationships when they are grown and carry their own weight in a family setting.

All boys should be encouraged to have an interest in the kitchen. They should be given real tools to work with and taught how to use them. Sadly, all the hubster knows about the kitchen is that it's where I bring his food from.

Ask my sons. Their abilities to cook, along with their dashing good looks from their mother's side, are two of the things women have always found most attractive about them. Ask their wives. Ask their children.

And it cuts both ways. Girls need to know how their vehicles work. They need to know how to check their own oil and tire pressures. Malls are full of helpless, self-involved women who go looking for a man with a shopping list in their heads. Maybe these girls were never asked to do anything technical or dirty or heavy. Not because they weren't capable but because those are “boy” things. They were somehow convinced by the people in their early lives that they would be loved simply for being all pink and girly and men would do all the dirty work.

That's not what the real world is like. Little girls should be grown into strong, competent and independent women with their feet set firmly on the ground right from the start.

Ask me. I can do all the domestic “girl” things but I can also do a large variety of things from woodworking to plumbing to electrical. I was never told I couldn't do something because it was a boys' domain — never. I played with dolls as a child, sure, but I also spent just as much time in the garage, at the gun club and in the yard at my father's knee. I may still call it a monkey-faced pliers instead of a water-pump pliers but I know how to use it and I know what it's for. And so does my daughter.

I have seen that look in men's eyes when I drag out my toolbox. It is often a look of surprise but more often it is a look of respect. Respect for my competence and also for my confidence that if I can't fix it, I will make sure it gets fixed.

And that's it, isn't it? Life isn't divided into pink and blue chores any more. Women don't stay at home and do all the child care, cooking and cleaning, and men don't win all the bread and do all the car maintenance, house repairs and lawn care anymore. Even if that is what was taught to us, it's not right to teach our children such prejudice.

Let's give them a chance to become complete, caring and competent beings in themselves. Then they may at least stand a chance of being able to walk side by side with a spouse for life one day, if that's what they want. Let's all help grow adults who know who they are and that they are capable with or without a partner.

It's the year two thousand fifteen, high time to step out of the past,

We'll stamp out gender role labeling and close that gate at last.


Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, I'm Nancy Kraayenhof. ©2015



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