About A Boy

by Shae on January 23, 2013

I pointed out yesterday that I don’t know what it’s like to have a son &  feel the limitation of  ”The Blue Corner”. My friend Natalie (maker of the most delightful clothes at Moeder Kip ), who has a son,  wrote me a post.

 

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When you’re in your own little community, it’s easy to think that the rest of the world is like-minded.

 

My son often wore pink as a baby, and none of our close friends would raise an eyebrow.

As a toddler, he discovered the joy of wearing skirts (and how much easier it was when toilet training!).

 

More recently, he’s realised that Tinkerbell isn’t out of place on the battlefield between Star Wars and Ninjago.

 

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Now that he’s at school, he’s exposed to a lot more viewpoints. Not all of which we agree with.

And that’s ok.

 

For one, we don’t have all the answers. Raising a child is not simply about creating a mini-me.

 

And when it comes to the really important things, we have enough confidence in our parenting not to be disturbed or threatened by other perspectives.

 

In fact, we see it as a wonderful opportunity to discuss the big issues.

 

“Daddy, why can’t two men marry? Even if they really love each other?”

“Well, it doesn’t make much sense does it? We don’t really know why, but we’re working to change that”

 

“Mummy, is it true that fairies aren’t real?”

“Well, I know that some people don’t think so. But I believe. What do you think?”

 

However some questions are harder.

 

“Mummy, is it true that pink lego is only for girls?”

“Mummy, is it true that boys can’t wear skirts?”

 

I tell him no. It’s not true.

 

“But Mummy, what if the other kids tease me?”

 

What do I say?

 

Do I tell him that it doesn’t matter?  That self-preservation is not as important as making a stand?

That’s a pretty big responsibility to lay on a 5 year old.

 

Do I suggest he just wear pink when he’s at home, where the other kids can’t see him?

And in doing so teach him that it’s something to be hidden away?

 

That’s not how I want my son to view the world.

 

Because it not only restricts his possibilities, but it alsoteaches him that it’s shameful to be like a girl.

 

And I believe that when our sons can wear skirts without shame, our daughters will be a step closer to freedom.

 

Win-Win.

 

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So when the question comes up, I guess I’ll let him know that there’s nothing wrong with it.

 

But I won’t shy away from the fact that not everyone agrees.

 

Then if he decides it’s not a battle worth fighting, I’ll respect that.

 

And if he still wants to wear a skirt, and they tease him?

 

I’ll hold him.

I’ll wipe away his tears.

I’ll tell him that I love him.

 

And though my own heart will break a little, I’ll know that we’re doing our best.

 

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb @ Bright and Precious January 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

Beautiful post, Nat! I feel many similarities in my journey already in raising a boy. Love ALL of what you said. (And thanks Shae for sharing Nat’s words).

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MoederKip January 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

Thanks Deb! Must be so interesting for you to bounce across both corners!

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sally January 23, 2013 at 9:23 am

It is so hard to bring our children up into this stereotypical world. It sounds like you are doing a great job of exposing your son to a range of options. If he wants to continues to be hassled, please consider talking to your son’s teacher, most (not all unfortunately ) do want to help building students options in all areas.

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MoederKip January 23, 2013 at 9:35 am

Thank you so much Sally.
Luckily we have a wonderful Montessori school where they deal with these things very well, and it hasn’t caused anything more than the occasional bed-time question session.
I also wonder though if he has it a bit easier because he loves wrestling and wargames as much as fairies and flowers? Is it tougher for those kids who go totally against societal expectations?

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Kathy January 23, 2013 at 10:49 am

I really enjoyed reading this post. I have three children, two girls and a boy and I brought them up treating them all the same – dolls and cars for all, blue and pink for all, dresses and overalls for all. Once they started school my middle daughter quickly settled in to being a stereo typical girl while my eldest son and younger daughter continued to buck the trend and spent many years being teased and picked on. Now they are aged 30, 28 and 26, the middle stereotypical girl is married with two sons who are being brought up like stereotypical boys and the other two are gay and continue to be picked on in life.

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Marita January 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Amazing post. Thank you for sharing the point of view of a mum with boys. We’ve got a friend like your son who believes in fairies, loves to play dress ups and it was sad to see him deflate when told by other children ‘boys don’t play fairies’. Thankfully he found his tribe within the school and they embraced his love of fairies.

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Leah January 23, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Loved these last two posts. I take heart in that this seems to be a pendulum in our culture when it comes to this gender stuff, for at least the trappings of it all … pink was once for boys and skirts for all young children for example. Things loosen up one way and tighten in another when it comes to rolls, especially across classes. If our kids are educated and know not to take other people’s narrow-mindedness personally they will be alright :) We can build on our successes like votes for all and equal op legislation and be free to enjoy the gender froofroo whether it’s via opting in or out.

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Pinky January 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Great post. As a mother of one daughter, when she tells me (learning from Pre-School kids) that only girls wear dresses…I say ‘No, some boys wear dresses too and that’s ok!’.
One weekend I had a Michael Jackson DVD on and she said to me ‘Mummy, some boys sound like girls and that’s ok!’. Haha

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