When my oldest son was 3, I became pregnant. Oh the excitement, expectations, hopes, dreams, plans, and preparation that came along with that news. To prepare my oldest, I bought a baby doll. I could show him how to hold the baby, change its diaper, and prepare him for how often Mommy was going to be totting his new sibling around.
He became obsessed with this doll. Always having to sleep with it in his room. Helping me feed it, cuddle it, etc. He was stoked to become a big brother.
But then, his sibling didn’t make it. Neither did the next three.
But he held onto that baby doll. And then he saw a Barbie doll that he had to have. Mainly because of her Sponge Bob outfit. And he kept her until he was about 7, and his “GI Joes” dismembered her. He eventually gave the baby doll to the Salvation Army. He also had a tea set that he adored, and threw many a tea party with. Which he grew out of over time.
My middle son has pretty much been gender neutral on toys. He hadn’t shown a preference one way or another, until he discovered Thomas the Train and Toy Story. And those have pretty much been his main obsession since. With a few additions since, but those will be explained soon enough.
My youngest son. He has been very effeminate in his toy, movie, and dress up choices, especially since he turned about 18 months old. This was discovered due to McDonald’s not listening to gender options for the kids’ happy meals one evening.
All 3 boys got a Barbie related toy. And that’s when something really came to light. My middle son refused to remove his pink Barbie bracelet for weeks, not for baths, bed, or school. It was his “pretty”, and you could have it over his dead body. I threw a baby shower for a good friend of mine, and one of the games called for a baby doll to diaper. The middle took possession of the baby doll immediately after the party, and hasn’t given her up since.
Then the youngest started showing his effeminate choices. He has always had a shoe fetish. And then he discovered my shoes. He loves heels, platforms, and anything that shows off toes. When he catches me doing my makeup, I have to do his as well. He loves having his hair played with. And this past Christmas, I walked up and down every toy aisle to see what the babies “took to”, for gift ideas. The youngest about lost his damn mind when we hit the girl aisle. He tried to launch himself from the cart when he caught sight of the Monster High Dolls.
His favorite movies and cartoons are Dora the Explorer, My Little Pony, and anything Tinkerbell. (The middle would rather watch Diego over Dora, but he adores the other two shows as well.)
For Christmas the middle got a cooking set, which the littlest took over right away. The youngest got many a My Little Pony and a Monster High Doll. He brushed her hair obsessively for the next week. That girl will never know a tangle, let me tell you.
He’s taken over any bracelet I leave anywhere. He and the middle love bead necklaces. And they both cried because I bought them Cars sandals (as they had their sizes) and not the Tinkerbell ones (not in the middles size, and I wasn’t going to hurt him by getting them for the youngest and not him too.) Their Grandma let them pick out some house slippers, which the middle decided on the Cars ones, and the little was going to get the Disney Princess ones, but he’s in full copycat mode, so he chose identical Cars ones. (Ahhh, sibling rivalry at its finest.)
The youngest is also the overly dramatic of the three. If ever he were to be described in a fictional book, he would be the arm over the eyes, fainting, helpless, damsel in distress. Honestly. I love the midget to death. That is just who, and how, he is. He is my little drama king.
This last week I decided to get a professional pedicure. I’ve been doing my own for the last four years. So it was a nice change to let someone else hunch over my feet and perfect my toes. I had the oldest and middle with me. The oldest found a chair, and got lost in video game land on his tablet within a few minutes. During this, I was trying to find a color that I liked from the hundreds of colors in the case. My middle demanded blue, because he wanted his toenails done too. (We have learned in the last 6 months to never leave polish within the younger twos line of sight, as they will pedicure the hell outta each other.) I told him I would do his blue when we got home, but this was an expensive treat for mommy.
(A note here, my middle is autism spectrum, so he gets incredibly uncomfortable in any given situation, familiar or not.)
He spazzed when I sat in the chair and put my feet into the BLUE (what set him off) water. He stood at the other end of the salon, and inched closer over the next 20 minutes. Eventually I showed him that I was okay. He then asked to watch “Ponies” on my phone (Netflix, you’re all a bunch of geniuses for making it a mobile app) and got lost in the show.
Then the pedicurists’ 8 year old son came over to see what the middle was watching, and proceeded to tell me that my son was weird for watching a “girl” show, and that he needed to watch something “for boys”. His mom didn’t say a word, and became overly zealous in perfecting the French tips. So I asked him what made him think that only girls could watch ponies, and he admitted that he didn’t know. Then he stood with the middle and watched the rest of the show. He thought rainbow dash was cool. His mom didn’t seem to appreciate this.
And it got me to thinking about how we as parents place our kids into these set gender roles. We teach our children what they can and cannot like, want to be, etc., by doing so. I don’t limit my boys; they are allowed to like what they like. My goal for them is to help them become happy, self-aware, independent, confident adults.
If they want to be girls, boys, straight, gay, bi, vegetarian, vegan, Christian, Pagan, Atheist, wear dresses, suits, be nudists, whatever! These are THEIR choices to make, to fully realize the person THEY are.
They are not meant to conform to what the world expects of them. They have their own goals, dreams, and desires; and as their Mommy, it is my job to SUPPORT them in discovering these aspects of themselves. I will never limit my children’s many potentials and try to make them fit a mold they will never feel comfortable in.
Should any of them desire “girl things”, then they shall have it. Their laughter, smiles, hugs, and acceptance of themselves are all that matter to me. Their Gender Role does not.
I’m not here to judge them; I’m here to love them.