That is what my ten year old son said to me as he walked out the door on his way to school one day last week. Ouch, it stung a little. Let me tell you what happened and you can decide if he is right.
In an effort to raise my kids as non-sexist as possible, I encourage them to make choices about toys and whatnot based on what they like, not whether it is made for a boy or a girl. When we go through McDonald’s drivethru for happy meals and the speaker asks, “Boy or girl toys?” I answer with the question, “What are the toys?” After hearing the options the boys decide what they want, and sometimes it is the girl toy.
When the boys lined up behind Masha and Autumn to get their nails painted a couple weeks ago, I gave them several colors to choose from and daddy painted their nails right along with their sisters’. You might even recall that a few years ago I bought my oldest son a pocketbook and he took it to school on and off for a couple weeks.
I know that my boys have gotten chastised by their peers for their gender-bending. While the purse still hangs in the Gecko’s closet, filled with hidden goodies, he no longer takes it out of the house. Jade came home from school after wearing the nail polish and told me that the girls in his class told him that he isn’t supposed to wear nail polish. That night, after boy scouts, I asked him if anyone noticed and he said that a boy laughed at him and called him a girl. His answer? “No, I am still a boy and I am my own person.”
It is hard to let them make their own decisions about this stuff knowing that the odds are they will be made fun of, but it feels worse to force them to comply with our society's unwritten gender rules. Actually, it feels so asinine trying to explain why they can’t wear nail polish or carry a sleek bag with lots of pockets that I would rather they just do what they want.
But then I blew it.
Masha has an awesome winter coat. It is thick, plush actually, with stitching on it that looks swirly. The hood and sleeves are edged with faux fur of the same deep blue color as the rest of the coat. She looks all set to travel to Alaska every time she puts in on. She hates it. She really really hates it and refuses to wear it. I had to swap it out with a lighter-weight suede coat.
On that morning, she once again refused to wear her awesome coat and Jade piped up, “Can I wear it mom? I love her coat.” And I said, “No.” Then I pushed him out the door with his handsome navy and yellow winter coat. Gecko was stuffing his backpack while this was taking place. He was the last one left in the entryway and on his way out he said it: “Mom, you are a hypocrite. Aren’t you the one who is always telling us it doesn’t matter if it was made for a boy or a girl; you can choose what you like?”
My brilliant comeback was, “Just go to school, okay?”
I’m making up for it though. A certain little somebody wants an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, and he’s getting it.
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