Br(u)no: Ladies First

Photo credit: KK / Brno Daily.

My 5-year-old daughter learned at preschool that “Dámy mají přednost.” In English, that means “Ladies first”. This knowledge has prompted a small female empowerment movement in my home — and that is confusing for both my son and me.  

The girl constantly throws the phrase around: When I start to walk down the stairs, she needs to go first: “Dámy mají přednost,” she says as she squeezes past me. When I go to strap my son into his car seat, it is a terrible social faux pas: “Dámy mají přednost!” And this is in just a two-minute stretch of our morning routine.  

Then it continues after preschool all the way through to who should get their food first during dinner to the order in which the kids are kissed good night.  

It is as though the phrase is magic and that it makes people (read: males) do things for you.

Frankly, I agree that Ladies First is a good rule to live by. I hold doors open for women and offer my jacket when it is cold. The problem is that, when dealing with a toddler, I’m not exactly sure of the proper protocol. I would assume that opening a door would be gentlemanly; however, unlocking the deadbolts and opening the door is still a novelty, so: “Dámy mají přednost!”  

My 3-year-old son is just as confused. From his point of view, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why his sister should go first in anything.  

That is why he has started to say “kluci mají přednost” — boys first. 

Therein lies the rub.   

Brother Point of View 

My son is in a different phase. He has realized the power of humor: he is small and young but he can still do things that make the big and older people react.  

He does a bent-over old-man walk because it cracks everyone up. He puts his underwear on his head because it makes his mother smile. He makes references to the buttocks because it gets his sister to laugh uproariously.  

This is not, overall, a bad thing. The class clowns that I have known were smart and witty and fun to be around.  

Unfortunately, getting people to laugh is a reaction that is quite similar to getting a rise out of someone.  

Ergo: When he says “kluci maji prednost” and it upsets his sister, he has succeeded.  

And, of course, the crying sister brings mom into the mix.  

Mother Point of View 

Mom has the motherly instinct to nip bad behavior in the bud.  

Mom: Absolutely, dámy mají přednost.   

Son: Kluci maji prednost

Mom: No. No. No. You must respect women, including your sister…  

Son: Kluci maji prednostKluci maji prednost!  

Clearly, righteous indignation is a powerful emotion that is a beautiful reaction to behold.

Check and Check Mate.  

Father Point of View 

Me, I just sit back and watch. I am on the side of the Ladies First ethos and that is how I want my son to live his life. However, I can see the twinkle in his eye.  

His sister will soon drop the constant feminist reminders and he will eventually find another way to get people to laugh or react.  

For now, the kids don’t seem to understand that dámy mají přednost is basically the same as “wait for mom to sit down before you start eating”.  

I guess that is a lesson for later.  

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