I try my hardest to teach my boys that toys aren’t gendered, neither are TV shows or other interests.
But I’m still battling their peers, so there are a lot of follow-up conversations. Yesterday, I was working with the Little Kidlet on his homework and the Oldest Kidlet was going on about something.
I honestly don’t remember what, but it was probably movie related- they’d been watching promos on a new DVD. I do remember is that he’d been pouring himself orange juice when he shook his head, and seriously said. “But that’s a girl thing.”
The Little Kidlet gasped.
I froze, and turned around. “Sweetie. I have to tell you that I’m not mad at you.” Because he was already flinching, because I must have been giving him the death glare. “But it does hurt when I hear you say that something is just for boys or just for girls. Because very few things are just for boys or girls- and even then, they’re usually health related. If you wanted to take ballet, and someone said it was just for girls, I’d probably get in their face and set them straight. If either of you had been a girl and said you wanted to go into space or be a physicist, I would do the same if anyone said you couldn’t. If it’s what makes you happy, and it isn’t hurting anyone- it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Capisce?”
He looked at me, sort of pleased and afraid. “You’d do that?”
“Of course, baby.” I might seem meek, but my mom made sure that few people told me I couldn’t do something. I’m going to follow in her footsteps. Fear me. “I’m your mom, it’s my job to try to make sure that you have a happy life, and that mean people back off. Until you’re old enough to handle it, anyways.”
He blinked. “You and the girls I know are pretty scary. I have no idea why people say that doing something ‘like a girl’ is a bad thing.” And then he walked off.
For the record, some of the girls he know are absolutely terrifying. 7 years old, and not afraid of the world at all- one’s a bit of a tomboy (but wears a Harajuku Mini hoodie), the other is all glamour girl (and can tell you everything about Star Wars and Batman). They’re pretty awesome.
So I guess I’m not too worried about the Oldest Kidlet. He makes comments like this when he isn’t thinking, and then the minute he stops to consider it, follows up with something incredibly insightful. We’ll keep fighting against society’s idea that women are somehow weak. But I think that so far as my kids are concerned, they’ll at least understand that isn’t true.
(And through all of this? The Little Kidlet just gaped, because he knew the second his brother said that first comment, I was not going to be happy. I’ve heard him tell classmates at recess that they can play Marvel heroes with him, and that he knows a few girl characters they could be, but it’s okay if they play as a guy if they want to.)