Friday, November 26, 2010

What Are Little Kids Made Of?

I've been ruminating on something for awhile these last several weeks. Probably why I've been so quiet here. I've wanted to write, but I just don't know how to focus this subject. With all the senseless bullying (right - as if bullying ever makes sense) in the news of late - primarily aimed at boys, it seems - boys who are different, you might say, from the norm - I've been thinking on how it is to have - to BE - a girl who is not quite your typical girl.

I don't know about you, but I for one admire a mom who will, for example, allow her little boy to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo. Just because that's his favorite cartoon and she is his favorite character. Big deal! If that's what he wants to be, than rock on with your bad Scooby self!

However, I do completely "get it" that this adorable little 5 year old boy also expressed concerns about dressing as a girl for the holiday. And, as such, perhaps his mom should have recognized his concern & been just as okay with letting him change his mind to not dress like Daphne after all. I mean, bravo to her for downplaying his worries - since, ideally speaking, he really should be able to freely dress as he wishes without being afraid to do so. But, of course he understood, even at his young age, that dressing as a girl would generally be considered "weird" and "odd" and "not right" for a boy to do. Because that's just not what our society accepts as natural or good. Boys do and like boy things, girls do and like girl things. To mix and match is just plain wrong and may very well lead to changing/influencing the very essence of a child's developing sexuality, doncha know.

Ahem. I think not. Actually, I pretty much know not. But that's a different story...

Besides, is that truly, truly what "we" as a society think? Or are "we" a bit more one sided about the situation? After all, as Nerdy Apple Bottom mom goes on to say in her blog post, "If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one."

She's absolutely right. Cuz my daughter dressed up for Halloween as (essentially) Darth Vader. And no one said one contrary word at all. In fact, they thought she was funny (since she was actually dressed as an Ele-Vader - punny family that we are.) But controversial? Ha! I don't think so.

My daughter also looooovvvveeeess to play Legos. And play at being a Super Hero. She couldn't care less about dolls or princesses. She'll wear a dress without complaint - and look awfully adorable in it - when I put a dress out for her to wear. But otherwise she's much more comfortable in pants and that's usually what you'll find her in.

She also loves math. And science. She loves to ride her bike or "work" with her Daddy in his "mad scientist lab" (read: woodworking shop.) She also loves to go on hikes with her dad. She's never been what one would consider shy.  She's rather interested in cooking and baking... but that's another Daddy & Sweetie activity, since I am not the cook in the family at all.

She's also definitely caught the romantic attention of at least a few boys in her school. Cute little boys who tell her they love her every day. Who tell her they want to marry her when they grow up. Who fight with their little brothers over who gets to walk and talk with Sweetie for a little while. And while Sweetie is well aware of these boys' feelings for her, she continues to just take it all in stride. Not mentioning to me or her Daddy that she actually like likes these boys as well. No. She really doesn't care. Boys are just "whatever" to her still.

And maybe forever. Who the heck knows! I'm certainly not concerned now with which gender Sweetie will most be attracted to as she grows older. Her current playtime interests, to me, certainly aren't directing her towards one sexual orientation or another. To even suggest that is ridiculous. She plays what she want to play - the end. How in the world can that possibly be linked to whether she's going to be attracted to males or females as an older girl?

But yet - as seen from Nerdy Apple Bottom mom's post as well as the countless other newsworthy bullying and suicide incidents lately - if you're a boy who tends to like the typically more "girly" things in life, then you're obviously a boy who's headed down a highly controversial path and will almost certainly come out as a homosexual person somewhere down the road.

It's a horrendous double standard, if you ask me. Why is it that shy little boys who like to bake with their moms, or want to learn how to sew, or who's best friends are girls, or who would rather take up dancing than run around outside getting dirty digging up worms while tossing a football around... well, obviously these boys will one day prove themselves to be gay. At the same time, we continue to teach our girls that they can be anything, do anything they set their minds to. Play sports! Be outgoing and confident! Be the best student you can! You don't just have to sit around having tea parties, learning to bake and cross-stitching samplers. Whoop those boys fannies and boldly get out there into this great big world!

It's praised, don't you see, for a girl to do the more "boyish" things. I admit it! I feel rather proud of my little girl for doing what she wants, being who she wants - not "playing by the rules" that she has to like Barbies, dress up, and the like. Yet for boys, it's severely frowned upon when they gravitate toward typically girl-driven activities and interests. "We" want to hide those boys. And not that "we'd" ever admit it, but I dare say "we" are almost ashamed of our sons who tend toward the more feminine interests.

When did it become so shameful to be a typical girl?

What's shameful, I think, is that our kids as a whole - boys and girls alike - feel any pressure at all as they grow up to "do the right things" or play the "right" way.

Little girls who only love to wear dresses and hold tea parties every day for their bevy of stuffed animals and dollies and who take ballet lessons and love to draw and skip and play house are just as amazing and awesome and powerful as little girls who climb trees, play super hero and build with Legos while dreaming dreams of car racing and becoming the quarterback of their favorite pro football team. Likewise we should recognize and encourage the beauty, strength and confidence present in every little boy - whether they prefer to sit in a corner and crochet while playing with their teddy bears then go off to play dress-up with their mom's wardrobe, or they're typically found covered in mud and scrapes, kicking around a ball with their buddies or attacking monsters and other nasty villains on their latest video game.

Kids should be allowed to be kids. As I said here today - and have said time and again within this blog - Hubby and I are nothing but proud of our Sweetie. She's a confident girl who's not afraid to speak her mind, couldn't really care less what other's think, and continues to play at whatever it is that makes her the happiest - other kids or grown-ups be damned! And I know & have known plenty of other girls like this as I've grown up. It really does my heart good to see the little ladies of our world having the confidence to live their lives the way the want and to become the genuine people they're destined to become.

Now if only we could allow all the little boys of the world to be their true genuine selves as well. Letting them know that it is alright for them to be as they wish, do as they please, and not be afraid of the consequences of such behavior. Indeed, teaching our boys that acquiring some quiet sensitivity is quite an asset to one's character!

If we can raise our boys to know & live the truth in their hearts, if we can become a society that accepts every individual for their true authentic self... only then will we have succeeded in stepping much closer to a peaceful and meaningful existence.


Jamie said...

I completely agree with you! Some people worry so much about what our kids will become they forget to let them be kids. Madi wears spiderman, Conner wears spiderman. Sometimes Conner wears the pink cape with a purple heart, and sometimes he wears his superman cape. Neither cape makes him less of a boy, just like Madi in a spiderman costume does not make her less of a girl. I enjoy watching his creativity. There are so many more important things to worry about in life. I want to foster that creativity and imagination, because it will get them both far in life.

Joni Llanora said...

Hi there. I'm a newbie and find your blog very engaging. Will read your older posts when I'm chore-free. Thanks!