In the sixth grade I was mistaken for a boy and it was one of the more horrifying experiences I can recall. I had just gotten my first “professional” hair cut only it wasn’t at a “salon” it was a friend’s mom who cut hair out of her house for cheap while enjoying a few gin and grapefruit juices. I asked for a Dorothy Hamill, hoping to show off my newly pierced ears but the result didn’t look cute and girly on me, I just looked like a boy.
Today Matilda, one of my three-year-old twins was mistaken for a boy in the grocery store and she couldn’t have been more thrilled. I believe her circumstances are quite different.
Matilda is obsessed with looking like a boy.
She is identifying herself as a girl, but a girl who reeeeeally likes “boy things.” It started slowly and innocuously; she rarely wanted to wear dresses, she’s turned off by the color pink “I only like blue or red!” She hearts Diego. For Halloween she wants to be a baseball player, Spiderman or a robot.
But about a month ago she took it to a new level. We’d gone shopping for a baby gift and she pulled me hard toward the boy’s section to point out football shirts with the same fervor her twin went after a tutu. Not totally following, I tried to lead her back to the other section where I held up an adorable t-shirt bedazzled with a peace sign.
“I don’t like that. That’s for girls,”
“Peace signs are pretty unisex,” I said lightly.
“It’s sparkly. That’s a girl thing.”
The following week, I brought Mattie home a pair of blue robot pajamas, laid them on her bed and waited for her to find them. From the screaming you would have thought she hit the Lotto. “Boy jammies! Thank you! Thank you for my robots!”
That’s when I finally started to get it.
I’ve had to wonder what this means. Is it a tom boy phase? Or do I have more in common with Cher than I ever thought possible? My husband and I have a theory that Matilda is trying to assert her own identity as a twin and sister to two other girls by being radically different.
Sadie, by the way, is horrified whenever Matilda talks about how much she prefers the boys in her class. “Mattie, no! You can’t like boys!” Apparently Mattie’s breaking princess code at preschool left and right. She’ll still play royal family with the other girls but she has to be the king or a prince or a “bad guy.” Her lunch box is the manliest in the cubbies.
Whatever this is, temporary or permanent, it’s who Matilda is and although I’m not used to it, I’m fully going with it. I’m not going to lie, it bothers me that people now often mistake her for a boy. I’m scared she’ll be made fun of or be ostracized but at the same time, it feels wrong to even try to get her to dress like a girl.
It’s just not how she rolls.
So for now, despite my confusion since I have three girls and that’s all I’ve been used to, I’m letting her favorite flame tipped light-up boy shoes guide my way.
This is where Old Navy comes in. Old Navy gave me $150 bucks to spend shopping for my kids and I decided then and there to have a shopping spree with my Matilda, just the two of us. I got my little Chaz Bono a whole new wardrobe.
Old Navy has a big old boy’s section and Mattie was in heaven, feeling loved, accepted and seen. She told me in no uncertain terms that she would need a t-shirt with Superman on it and luckily they had quite a few. Honestly, it was my best and most memorable shopping trip ever. (I may or may not have grabbed a few sets of $2 scratch and sniff cupcake stickers for myself ).
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