She Dissents


She dissents a lot, and it’s massively inconvenient for me. But, as I have to keep reminding myself, it’s a good thing.

A dear friend who works in children’s publishing periodically sends us a beautifully curated box of kids’ books. Recently, she’s focused on stories of amazing women in the world: Ada Lovelace, Joyce Chen, Zaha Hadid, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just to name a few. Ruth is the clear favorite, though. Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a compelling and enriching narrative of RBG’s life in picture-book form. It is a serious book, and assumes seriousness on the part of its readers. It’s been around for several months now, and Ros seems to periodically remember that it’s there and subsequently request that it be read to her multiple times a day for a while, before getting distracted by some other (usually inferior) book. Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes, for one, is a scourge on our current rotation, but that’s a whole other post.

This morning we read “the Ruth book” before breakfast, snuggled up together on the bean bag, and when we got to the page where Ruth is depicted going to law school (one of nine women among more than 500 men) she said, pointing to Ruth “there’s just one girl, that’s Ruth! And those are boys.”

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark , by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley.

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley.

And then she said, “Mommy, I want to go there.”

I caught my breath a little. “You want to go to law school just like Ruth and just like Daddy?”


Okay then!

“But it’s VERY far away.”

…you can say that again…

“so we’ll have to take an airplane.”

Oh my god, when she puts it that way it isn’t far away AT ALL. Only about two miles and…twenty years maybe?

I guess all the resistance and persistence and dissension in Ros’s toddlerhood is preparing her for something, but I certainly didn’t think I’d be discussing Harvard Law School with her before the official start of grade school. Still, I take her at face value. She sees something in this image. She sees Ruth, a girl (we’re very into girls right now) standing out among a mass of fairly nondescript, mostly white men (though she prefers to call them boys). The picture in and of itself compels her, and maybe with it the idea and the aspiration. I wish I knew. We look at it for a while. She is similarly attracted to a subsequent drawing of RBG arguing in front of the Supreme Court, and says, “I want to go there, too!”

Looks like we have work to do. I’m right here with you.

RBG reads  I Dissent . Image courtesy of the PJ Library and the Jewish Standard.

RBG reads I Dissent. Image courtesy of the PJ Library and the Jewish Standard.