Taking Up Space
On a day navigating errands with my children recently I noticed that they “Take Up Space.”
Not in the physical sense, though there are quite a few of them and they do tend to inhabit a lot of my house, but in the psychological sense of commanding their environment.
They are loud, boisterous, confident, and have a sense of entitlement that can only come with being unafraid of their physical selves. This is neither a compliment nor a critique of my parenting but rather a note that my children are lucky. They have not been “othered” from an early age to shrink or mute themselves as a means of protection. They have not been told they are wrong as so many other children have.
In most cases this first sense of understanding that you are “wrong” does not come from another child but often from the learned environment we are in. It is from an offhand remark, a gesture, or more specifically in a way an adult talks. It is calling someone “he” when they prefer “she”. It is promoting one skin color over another. It is saying that girls can’t be doctors or that they aren’t good at math. Am I wrong because I love math?
There is no real teaching in this essay. More that we should realize how we hold ourselves as adults in front of our children. Their safety and confidence to navigate this world is our upmost responsibility as adults, regardless of of we are that child’s parent or not. So let’s stop and pause when we talk and remember that children are always learning, as our we. Let all of us learn to take up space in a way that celebrates our confidence without making others lose theirs.
Rebecca Percy, MD FAAP
Born in Boston, MA, Dr. Rebecca Percy spent her childhood in Boulder, CO. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology from Carleton College in Northfield, MN. She graduated from college Magna Cum Laude and received a graduate award for excellence in academics and athletics with a scholarship to pursue secondary education.
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