What am I missing here?

Crossposted from Welcome to the Dollhouse

My boss is such a sweetie. Whenever we’re in meetings and someone makes a statement that is so confused, addle-headed, or just plain out there, instead of responding with a “what the hell are you talking about?!” he does the nice thing and takes the onus on himself for the lack of understanding and asks, “what am I missing here?” It’s such a considerate act that keeps the other person from getting pissy and defensive. And for this post, I plan to steal his technique.

I am the first one to admit that like my fellow Ivy Leaguers Barack and Michelle, some have accused me of being elitist. Yes I have a penchant for subject-verb agreement, I shop at Target and not Walmart, and would kill myself if my daughter told me that she wanted to dance on a pole rather than go to college. If that is the definition of elitism, well I guess I am guilty.

I put this out there because in my prethinking of how this post might be received, my concern was that it might be seen as elitist. Yet I happily own my elitism when it rears its ugly head. However, in this situation, I’m not sure this is about elitism. Something else is jangling with me that I don’t think can be simply written off as my being part of the club that refuses to drink White Zinfandel. There’s something else amiss. Let’s get to it.

Last week I received the FAO Schwarz holiday catalog. As a good consumer with a young ‘un, I decided to flip through their offerings to see if there was anything special that had Zara’s name on it. Of course, the first item that caught my eye was this wooden doctor’s office playset:

Yes, she’s not old enough for this and with the current state of medicine it is really really really not a good idea for her to go into medicine, but I thought it was cute…and wasn’t made of bright plastic.

I also saw some other interesting career/activity playsets.

Here’s the workbench playset:

(It’s listed for boys, but we don’t follow no stinkin’ gender rules!)

The ice cream cart:

A grocery cart:

The grilling set:

And then I came to the item that has continued to puzzle me. It puzzles me for these reasons:

  1. It is in the (high end) FAO Schwarz catalog
  2. It costs $150
  3. I cannot imagine any desire to buy this item for a child

I’ll say no more. I’ll just show you. Here is the $150 wooden housekeeping cart playset:

Please note that this isn’t the let’s clean the house type of housecleaning playset. This is a replica of the carts that housekeeping services use to clean hotels and buildings. I’m not trying to say that housekeeping isn’t a perfectly reasonable job, but is it a job for “let’s pretend?”

Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to this because just two generations ago my grandmother was on her knees cleaning people’s houses so that my mother and aunt could get their educations and advanced degrees. My grandparents came to the US from the West Indies, struggled and scraped by so that we, their descendants, could get ahead. They wanted us to work with our minds and not on our knees.

So I’m looking at this housekeeping playset and I’m asking myself, what am I missing here? Help me out. (Boss also says this as well.)

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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek, Change.org, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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