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The Sunday Squirrel: the bet

“I'll bet you a million dollars your dad's not a nurse.”

Belinda didn't know how to respond to the girl she'd just met in her new school. “Then you owe me, because he is. That's why the Army moved us here.”

“Men can't be nurses,” Kelly stated as if she knew what she was talking about. “You mean he's a doctor.” Kelly's friends snickered and bobbed their ponytails in agreement.

“I know the difference,” Belinda said. “My dad's a nurse. He just finished college for it.” It had been kind of boring at Daddy's ceremony, but everyone clapped when he stood up to speak. Mommy said it was because he got such good grades and everyone was proud of him.

Belinda was proud of him too. Her dad was smart, and handsome, and fun to be with. And he was definitely a nurse.

“You're a liar,” Kelly said. “I'm going to tell Mrs. Reardon.” She turned and stalked off, her troupe of friends in pastel skirts following closely.

“Okay.” Belinda went back to doing pullovers on the bar like she'd learned in gymnastics.

Obviously, Kelly was not going to be a friend. Belinda didn't bother with stupid people.

Today's Squirrel was inspired by a conversation I had on the playground more than 25 years ago about my own father, who is retiring from the Navy nurse corps next month. I've had the good fortune to meet many male nurses over the years. They are nothing like the stereotypes perpetuated by the little bit of popular culture that even bothers to consider the possibility. Even the TV show Heroes–which I applauded for having a main character who was a male nurse that wasn't gay, creepy, effeminate, or evil–buckled to social mores and brought Peter back as an EMT in later seasons.

I challenge you to question your own ideas about “men's work”. No one blinks twice at female doctors, engineers, or police officers anymore, but in the so-called “caring professions” where women are the majority, men still have a long way to go to gain social acceptance.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Tony


    Long ago, in high school, I remember one of my classmates, a male, decided that he was going to be a nurse. Always wondered if he made it. He had to endure a lot of dodo. Young males can be rough.

  2. Reply

    What a sweet post Gwen!
    I love man nurses, they can be more sensitive than woman nurses.
    I remember one of the man nurses at Georgetown University hospital crying after my ultrasound showed that my fetus didn’t have a heartbeat….my pregnancy ended with a miscarriage….
    You must had a wonderful dad Gwen!

    • Reply

      I’m so sorry about your loss, Mirella. I’m glad you had a caring person with you when you got the sad news.

      I’m totally biased, but I think my dad is a pretty great guy. 😉

  3. Reply

    My local hospital has a framed newspaper story about a family of nurses – a mother and her three sons.

    Personally, I think the main qualification for any job should be a passion and talent for doing it.

  4. Reply

    I posted this before but I don’t see it, I’ll try again.

    I think it’s great to let kids find their own way, Mine are only 2 and 4 so I have a lot of time in front of me to help figure that stuff out.

    I can relate to this post on a lot of levels. As a stay at home dad, i get judged a lot, mostly not good. Hell, my dad doesn’t understand at all, he doesn’t even try, but I know his generation things were different. And even at the parks some other moms don’t go near me, guess I’m not in their click. I think they consider me a loser for being at home even though they are considered worlds best mom for staying home,and sacrificing their career, weird huh?

    I also have my kids in an AMI Montessori school. Get this though, it goes through 8th grade. Can you imagine never taking a test till you were in high school? They won’t stay in Montessori that long, but in my opinion is it best for them right now.

    Great post as always,
    I Hope your family is settling in Northern Virginia okay.


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