Tonight, my 3-year-old son was playing with my jewelry tree, which is one of his favorite pastimes. He grabbed two necklaces, and thrust one toward me:
“Mommy, you wear this one, and I’ll wear the green one – then, we’ll BOTH be the queen!”
This was no half-hearted request either; the kid said it with a level of sass that left no room for questions. And I know the word “sass” is usually reserved for little girls, but, then, so are demands to be “the queen.” So…
My Son Likes Pink
My little boy likes a lot of stereotypically “girl” things. His favorite movie is Frozen, and he regularly demands that I play Anna to his Elsa. One of his favorite cartoons is Miraculous, which features a teenaged-girl superhero named Ladybug; another is a remake of My Little Pony. He loves wearing jewelry, and has been known to apply eyeshadow to his upper cheekbones. Highlighting?
He loves plenty of stereotypically “boy” things, though, too. The kid can kick and throw a ball with the control of someone far older, his favorite game is “battle” (which basically involves him “zapping” us with whatever is at his disposal), and he can talk about dinosaurs until the listener wishes he or she were extinct just to stop it.
In short, right now, the kid just doesn’t see gender. He can identify “boys” and “girls,” but he makes no distinctions between them, has no pre-conceived notions of what they can or cannot do and, consequently, what he can or cannot be.
While my husband and I are feminists, and do have a nontraditional relationship (I’m the breadwinner, and my husband stays home), I can’t say we instilled these values on purpose. We want our boys to be feminists too, but they’re still very little, and we don’t go around talking about it. Honestly, we’re guilty of buying our boys mostly traditional “boy” toys – trucks, balls, etc. My 3-year-old just seemed to figure out on his own that men and women are equal, and that anyone can be a superhero.
Helping My Son Resist Peer Pressure
How long can this last, I wonder? What happens when the little boys or little girls in his preschool class start making fun of him for wanting to be Elsa or Ladybug? Word from his teacher is that the girls are already telling him he has to play “Kristoff.” Kristoff?!? Are you kidding me??? Who wants to be the random ice-seller when you can be the QUEEN?
My heart aches with sadness for the day when my little boy tells me that “Pink is a girl color” or “Boys can’t be princesses.” My idealist side tells me that maybe this day will never come; my realist side tells me that it probably will, though, especially since we live in a very conservative area.
My goal now is to raise boys strong enough to ignore these inevitable comments. I want my boys to dye their hair or wear nail polish or pretend to be Elsa if they feel like it. And, if they’d rather dress in plaid and amp up their trucks, that’s ok, too. I just want them to be THEM – without the cultural baggage of what it means to be “a boy.”
In short, I want them to define what “a boy” is for themselves. But I don’t know how much control I have over that. And I dread the day when I have to find out.
In the meantime, I guess all I can do is enjoy life with my sassy little truck-bashing queen.