Her: Sure thing!
Me: I just wanted to say thank you for stepping in to start the Girl Scouts troupe for the kids. My daughter loved the first meeting this week.
Her: Well we just love her. She’s so great!
Me: Thanks. It means a lot that you’re putting such time and effort into making it a good experience for the girls. I just wanted to touch base on a quick thing from Tuesday’s meeting, and I’m hoping it doesn’t make me sound like a totally freaky parent.
Her: Is it the God thing?
Me: The what now?
Her: The God thing?
Me: Oh…um…no…but what is the God thing?
Her: It’s in the Girl Scout Promise; they have to promise to serve God.
Her: It’s very nonsecular and it’s mixed in with other stuff. To be honest though, I was uncomfortable with it too. I asked if we could skip that part and was told it wasn’t a good idea.
Me: Okay. That’s fine…I mean that’s good to know. We can have a conversation with her at home, and shame on me for not doing my homework and knowing that she’d be doing that God stuff.
Her: So that wasn’t it?Me: No…actually, I wanted to touch base on the Indian Chief game the girls played.Her: Oh, right. It’s like a rhythm game where they sit in a circle and the “Indian Chief” gets to pick the pattern.
Me: Right. I know that you didn’t think it up and that the girls had played it in school somewhere, and that’s something I’ll address with the school. My husband and I were just talking with our daughter about it, and she just kept saying, “It’s just a game Dad!” At seven years old, she’s already rolling her eyes at us like crazy [uncomfortable laugh], but the thing is that we used be in total agreement that who cares what you call things, I mean they’re just names after all. And then we learned from doing some reading on the subject and talking to some friends who are American Indian that games like this can really actually enforce stereotypes, like this might help kids picture only a sitting chanting Native American when they hear about “Indian Chiefs,” and so now we realize that names do matter, and it’s important to teach our kids about that. So does that make sense.
Her: Thank you so much for calling. I was actually really nervous when the girls said they wanted to play that game; I thought it sounded offensive before I even knew what they were doing. And then in the moment, I didn’t know how or even whether I should address it…I mean I didn’t want to go imposing my morals on other people’s kids.
Me: I can totally appreciate that, and what we’ve been talking with our daughter about is the idea that the game can stay the same but maybe they could call it something else, something like “Rhythm Captain” or something, hopefully something not so stupid as “Rhythm Captain,” but you know what I mean. My husband is a music teacher, so he loves the fact that they’re playing with rhythm, and we just don’t want them to associate the game and action with an entire race of people, especially one as diverse as Native Americans.
Her: I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for bringing this up. I will definitely chat with the girls about it at our next meeting.