Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Girls on Motorcycles

I remember taking a sociology class in college where it was stated that children are not predisposed to act a certain way based on their gender, but actually are molded to act like boys and girls by their parents pushing stereotypical gender based toys/clothes/shows (etc.) at them. Even back then, before having kids, I disagreed. I argued that a person is set up to be who they are regardless of gender and regardless of being given trucks or dolls to play with.

As a child, I had dolls and your basic girly toys, but I found them to be quite boring. Friends would often get upset with me because I would be all about setting up the Barbie house and furniture and arranging it just right, but I had no actual interest in playing Barbie’s. I hated dressing them up and making them talk or go out or whatever. How freaking lame, right? I didn’t want to play in a toy kitchen or use a fake vacuum (are you insane?). I liked playing make believe; I would pretend that I was camping with my stuffed animals, or that I was in a singing competition. Even at a young age I would just hang out and listen to music. I would have much rather played by myself than with a group of kids any day, and I was lucky to have a brother who was the same as me; content to chill or be by himself.

And guess what? I turned out ok! I’m not some kind of psychopath loner; I’m actually a good mom!

I admit that I put Caitlyn in dresses quite a bit, and dress her in pink and purple 98% of the time. I’ve bought her dolls and put her hair in pig tails. I’ve set her up to be the biggest princess there ever was. Despite what I have done, Caitlyn prefers to be dirty. She prefers Diego over Dora. She loves to dig and steal her brother’s trucks. She is loud and extremely outspoken (even at age 2). Regardless of what I dress her in, she always grabs her baseball cap and puts it on backwards. She also sets her stuffed animals around our table and feeds them and brings them milk. She wraps her babies in her blanket and lies them down and runs their backs. She pretends to cook in her little kitchen. I know that I’m doing something right with her because she feels free to be an individual and do her own thing, but she also has the desire to mimic me, and be a little mommy.

It’s hard to put Eddie’s personality in print. While he does all the things a typical boy is “supposed” to do (which include being dirty, loud, and maniacal at times) he is a truly sensitive soul. He’s 3 ½ now and still wants to curl up on my lap and twirl my hair. He likes to sit and have a conversation with you, and talk about his feelings. He carries a pink Dora backpack to school every day and doesn’t care. He sings and dances and loves to watch anything with music on TV. When they play dress up at school, the first thing he goes for is a denim skirt. And you know what? He plays trucks, pretends he is a monster, wrestles and loves to watch NASCAR with his dad. He likes nothing better than watching bulldozers do work.

I went outside last night to see what he and Grandpa were up to and he ran up to me and gave me a huge hug and a great big smile.

“I want to be just like you, Mommy” he says

“Me? How come?” (I think he’s about to tell me that I’m great)

“I want to wear dresses and be a girl.”

“You do?”

“Oh yeah, I want to wear dresses”

“Well, you’re already a boy and boys don’t really wear dresses.”

“Ok Mommy.”

He thinks for a minute.

“Well, can girls ride motorcycles?”


Misguided Mommy said...

that is cute

Misty said...

Ah, the old "Nature vs Nurture" argument. I am from the school of "a little of both." Because, you just suggested, "stereotypical gender based clothes" to Eddie when he wanted to wear a dress. If you hadn't said that, maybe he would be wearing a dress! Also, maybe if he didn't have such an awesome Mommy to want to emulate, the thought of being female might not have ever come into his mind. As my PoliSci Proff use to love to espouse, "Nothing exists in a vacuum."

But good for you for being so open with them to let them make their own decisions about such things. I deal a lot with men's violence against women in my line of work, and I think if more little boys were able to get past the masculine stereotypes in our culture and saw their mothers as positive role models, it might knock those stats down a notch or two. :)