I just read this article by Liz Gumbinner at Mom 101 where she discusses how she’s learning to navigate our tendency to label certain things boy things and others as girl things. It’s a great, thoughtful post — you should read the whole thing. I have to admit, though, that as a mom of sons, I had to giggle at this bit:
I don’t think a parent would question those posters in a boy’s room for a minute. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a parent question a five year-old boy wearing a Darth Vader hoodie. I’ve never seen an invisible sword fight between boys regarded with anything but approval at the adorableness of it all (a few rare freaked-out helicopter moms not withstanding). But we’re all—me included—still working on the girls who want to play at sword-fighting fantasy too.
I see plenty of girls sword fighting around me — and I love it. One of my favorite little girls in the world admonished me when I saw her making wings to wear over her pink dress and I asked her if she was pretending to be a butterfly. She turned to me, all pink and glitter, and deadpanned, “No, I’m a ninja.”
I mean, obviously. Right?
(She’s three years old, by the way — how cool is that?)
I know of very few people who would bat an eyelash at this. But what if it was a boy saying the opposite? It is a little harder for boys that like “girl things” in my opinion. Don’t you think?
I don’t want my children to be limited by their gender, but even I take pause if one of them shows too much of an interest in pink things. And here is the kicker: I love pink things myself. LOVE THEM. It drives me crazy that what is traditionally feminine is seen as lesser than what was traditionally masculine. That girl’s names are seen as weak, so there’s a rise in girls having boy’s names. I think that girl stuff is just as cool as boy stuff — but I still pause when the boys are a bit too interested in it.
Clearly I don’t have the solution, but it’s the truth.
As an aside, when one of my kids was nervous about starting kindergarten the only book I could think of to help him was Ramona the Pest. Is that a girl book? I don’t care. But he did — at first. “It’s a girl book!” he complained when he saw the cover. Because you know, there’s a girl on the cover. But I persisted, because of course that is no reason not to read a classic. As we read, and it took a few nights, he started to love the story. When the story took over, and he was cheering on Ramona just as much as I did when I was a little girl cheering on Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Because of course, what difference does the hero’s gender make, as long as they are heroes?
None at all, of course. I just need to remember that.
The Frog & Snail Society We’re all boy