Saturday, February 22, 2014

A step forward

While we were at the Pacific Science Center for the Visiting Scientist program a couple of months ago, Sean spoke to a psychologist who studies fonts and which ones are easier to read, and other ways we respond to font types.

He showed us several different experiments. He asked us to read a sentence written in two different fonts. He asked if there was one that looked like a feminine font. Sean gave him a blank stare. The man turned to me and asked if there was one that looked more feminine, and one did stand out to me, but I wanted to wait until Sean had a chance to answer.

I wasn't sure he understood the question, so I said, "Is there one that looks more girlish, or boyish, to you." He looked for a long time at each one and finally said, "No."

A volunteer at the center was standing with us as we were doing this exercise. He had been glancing at me while Sean was studying the fonts. We waited, and when Sean answered, "No." We both smiled.
I told the psychologist I believe Sean's reaction to this particular exercise was an example of progress in our society.

The volunteer said, "I think that is really awesome."

This is not to say that Sean doesn't recognize certain things as masculine and feminine, but in general he views activities as a matter of interest rather than a "girl" thing to do and a "boy" thing to do.

While we were at a family function, a family member was engaging in conversation with Sean about his activities. She asked him, "Are you going to take ballet?" She is in her late 70s, and to her it was a way to joke around, but he took it as a serious question, thought on it for a moment, and then said, "I don't know. Maybe."

He walked away and she said to Chuck and I that she was really just kidding, but it looked like he was considering it. We explained he is interested in everything, and he doesn't really view ballet as a girl activity.

Children become very focused on making sense of the world when they are around age 7, 8, 9 ish. The traditional roles of households and working world are very important to them. They sometimes say things that don't sound very Politically Correct. I've seen adults get offended when a child talks about their religion, for instance, and insists that everyone is supposed to go to church. In their minds if their family is going to church everyone is supposed to. Just like all mommies are supposed to do whatever their mommies do, and daddies are supposed to do what their daddy does. That is what makes sense.

But Sean has been in a diverse community, and a diverse household, and family. He went to school with transgendered kids, and kids of all faiths and backgrounds, ethnicities, and origins.

It's a big world out there. We don't all fit into a mold. Sean makes decisions for himself based on his interests, and not what others would expect him to choose. That is a beautiful thing, and I hope he will be able to follow his own path and not that of others as he gets older.

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