This morning a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that he was happy he has girls instead of boys (he has two girls, roughly the same age as my boys), because he wouldn’t have to learn about dinosaurs. Ignoring the obvious gender role issue… it annoyed me a bit because, well, I was a girly girl… but I sure loved science!
My sister and I complained if we hadn’t been to a museum in awhile, and it generally didn’t matter what kind of museum. It could be an art museum, a children’s museum, a natural history museum or my favorite- the science museums. The highlight of our trips to San Diego wasn’t trips to Sea World, it was trips to Balboa Park to the museums!
I loved learning. Whether it was dinosaurs, marine animals, extinct mammals… I wanted to learn about them all. I threw myself headfirst into learning about the space program. Once my parents got a computer, I was on it all the time. Not just for typing up my school papers, but I taught myself how to use DOS and even learned how to program in BASIC. My sister was the same way too, though admittedly, I spent more time on space stuff and she spent more time learning about faerie lore. But we collaborated on a simple text based program that had a user walking down a hall and discovering various things in the rooms.
Talking to my mom about the dinosaur post, she said that being my parent was difficult. More often than not, I made them feel stupid- simply because I wanted to know something that neither of them knew much about. I realize now that the encyclopedia set in my room was less about helping me with my school work, and more about giving me a place to try to answer some of my own questions. She pointed out that there were lots of trips to the library or to museums to try to answer questions. When I was old enough, I do remember being turned loose on the microfiche at our library (oh how I love microfiche).
All this was done without the internet. While I have a son who asks just as many questions, I’ve been lucky that they’ve been about subjects I knew about or something that was googleable. I can have answers that are accurate enough to share within minutes.
But I am immensely grateful to both of them for giving my sister and I the opportunities to learn so many subjects, or that they taught us how to get information ourselves.
I will say though, that even with all my knowledge about dinosaurs, it has broken my heart to learn that the names I’d committed to memory have been rendered obsolete by new scientific findings. I am kidding. It’s proof that science is an amazing and ever evolving thing, where we learn more and more about subjects as time go by. Even if it means I have to get used to say pterosaur rather than pteradactyl. So thanks, Mom and Dad. You went through a lot to make sure that we got our answers, and kept us supplied with plenty of books. I really do appreciate all the work!
I am pleased to say that on the gender roles issue of that Facebook status, there were plenty of women who spoke up and said that they forced their parents to learn all sorts of non-girly information. Which is always wonderful to see- that I wasn’t the only scientifically minded girl out there.
ETA*: Always great to see people pop around for a discussion. Last month I posted about gender roles, and some of the damaging things we as a society do.
* ETA = Edited to Add