So we get this new bike, for Winter, a gift from a friend whose kids have outgrown the little, red, pedal-less thing. I pick her up from the pre-school carrying it on my back. She’s excited, circling it, trying to get on the seat even though it is still a little bit too big. One of the male teachers comes over, asks if I want him to look it over. Not really. I know bikes. I just got this one. We’re likely to survive the trip home. I politely decline.
While I’m getting Winter’s helmet and coat, he looks the bike over anyway. One of those well-intentioned, overly helpful people. OK. That’s nice, I guess. A couple of screws are maybe just a little loose, he tells me.
“Thanks. I’ll look at them when I get home.”
“Yeah, maybe your husband can fix them.”
“My husband? What kind of sexist bullshit is that? I’m the one who fixes the bikes at our house.” For once in my life I have said exactly what I wanted to say exactly when I wanted to say it. It still makes me feel a little shaky. Calling someone out usually does.
He turns red and says he’s sorry. He becomes very awkward, but is still very nice. We end up tightening the screws together, right then and there. My husband can fix it indeed. As the Germans say: Am Arsch.
It was a small, quiet victory, but I felt so proud for refusing to let someone make sexist assumptions. Like the female teacher there who kept calling me to pick Winter up in the middle of rather stressful, deadline-ridden work days. Days when I would arrive to pick her up expecting disaster and could not convince her to come home with me because she was having so much fun.
When I explained to this teacher that this could not happen, and what was the point of paying them for child care to ensure I could work if they sent her home every day after a few hours, barely managing to hold back tears as I did so, she told me, “Oh, I didn’t know you worked.” Right. Because it is always the dad who works. And repairs the bikes.