Taking up space

manspreading-2Lady and I took the boys to the Land of Goodness and Light (aka: IKEA) last weekend to get some housewares. Uno had gone off to college, and the three remaining kids underwent “The Great Move” into new rooms.

IKEA is a navigational gem. You walk one way through the entire store. No one is a salmon swimming upstream. But it is also a frustrating experience because, well, people walk at different speeds. They clog up the pathway when a bright shiny object catches their eye and they stop to gander at it.

So the boys and I had gotten ahead of Lady because she had stopped to gander, and we needed to wait for her. I pulled the cart into an aisle off the main path, but the boys were being boys and loafing in everyone else’s way. So we had to have a talk about “taking up space.”

“A lot of people, and especially men, take up a lot of space in the world,” I told them. “They are unaware of everyone else around them, and many of them don’t care. They just stand there, and almost dare people to get them to move. It’s ridiculous, so listen to me. This is important: We’re not going be the kinds of guys who take up a lot of space, okay? We’re gonna be the guys who make sure other people have the space to do what they need to do. Got it?”

“Got it.”

Hillary Clinton was recently featured on Humans of New York, and an article reflecting on the piece noted:

…to be an ambitious women is to be a threat. To be seen, by many men, as taking up space where a man should be. A man who is more deserving, merely by virtue of his manhood.

I want my boys to not be threatened by women who are deserving. I want them to do their best and offer their gifts to the world, but I also want them to learn to get out of the way. I hope my boys learn to transfer the lesson about taking up physical space to taking up metaphorical space.