Monday, August 16, 2010


When I picked up The Baby Boy from pre-school today, the teacher told me that he had refused to sing the song the rest of the class was singing. It began, she said, with "10 Little Indians." My eyebrow raised. Then she went on to say that after the familiar verse, they sing this: "oooh waaa, ooooh waaa, shoot the arrow. No more Indian boys and girls." The other eyebrow went up.

Then she told me that The Baby Boy refused to sing. When she asked why, he said that I told him not to sing that. He was right. Both of my children came home from their previous school last year singing that horrible song. They loved it. They clapped their hands when they sang the "shoot" part. I told them this song was about hurting other children, and we didn't want to do that. And what's more, we don't like shooting (although I have to admit that I loved the archery unit in middle school gym!). They were not convinced on either count, but they agreed not to sing it anymore.

I told the teacher this story and she said that she could understand why I wouldn't want them to sing it. In fact, she said, it really wasn't a great song for children to sing. I told her that if they were singing it in class I would just go along with it and he could sing it. But, the teacher said, he was not going to sing it because he following my instructions, so it didn't matter if she told him it was okay. Besides, she said, he knows his numbers so he didn't need to practice.

Now, I also am not in love with the "10 Little Indians" part, either. This is especially true when I consider the version that replaces "Indians" with the N-word. Not cool. But here's the thing: I never know how big of a deal I should make of this kind of thing. A similar issue comes up at Thanksgiving when teachers have children dress like Pilgrims and Indians. I have a classmate who is a sociologist. Her son was in The Babydoll's class last year, and she's much more bold than I am. So she told the teacher that she didn't like the Thanksgiving dressing up because it was culturally insensitive and inaccurate. The teacher looked at her. I wonder how much people outside of academia (and other sitting around thinking about stuff professions) think that objections to this kind of thing is overreaching. Part of me feels like someone (obviously not me) should speak up and start shoving this stuff out of society, even if we've been doing it for years. But part of me also feels like the people who get angry because clerks aren't allowed to say Merry Christmas. I usually just punk out, but I'm trying to figure out where the line is for me.

On a totally unrelated note, on the way into the gym this morning, a guy told me that I was beautiful. He also asked if I was married, how long, and then said that I had been married longer than he. THEN he asked me for my number because he wanted to take me to lunch. As "friends"--okay. On the way out of the gym another guy told me that I had the "most prettiest feet" he's ever seen. Both were very odd compliments, but compliments nevertheless. I'll take it.


The Diva said...

You should totally speak up about those things. It sounds like the teacher had not really considered the insensitivity of that song, but now she will. I don't think that everyone sits around thinking about these things; we're used to them and so we sing/say/pass them on. Like "Rock-a-bye, Baby." Keep speaking up!

Good Enough Woman said...

I tend to see the song and the costumes as being in different categories. The song crosses the line for me, but the costumes don't. Then again, I'm not much of an activist. I'm not very good at sustaining a sense of outrage. As such, I was a good women's studies student but I am not a very good feminist. Just good "enough"? :)

The Steel Magnolia said...

Thanks, TD. Of course, I can't really claim to have spoken up very much. I haven't really posted a protest--it's all in my head. But I will take credit for my son's protest! Yay! I guess I'm "just good enough" eh, GEW?
I hate confrontation . . . .