What Just Came Out of Your Mouth?

Tonight we are playing musical beds at my in-laws’ house because my sister-in-law and her family have come to town so we can celebrate my father-in-law’s 70th birthday together. This afternoon I was puttering around the room we are staying in, making a comfy little nest for T to sleep in on the floor. He was following me around and checking things out.

“Mommy? Come look at this!” he dragged me over to the closet and pointed to a shelf above his head. “Is that for me?”

I looked at the toy digger still in its packaging and remembered that my sister-in-law gifted it to the brand new baby in the family either at Christmas or at her baby shower. I explained to T that the digger wasn’t for him, it was baby G’s.

He wasn’t thrilled, but he went about his business. A few moments later he asked me if the digger was a transformer. “Nope.” I replied. “Just a digger.”

A few more moments passed. “But Mom? Girls don’t really like trucks.”

I whipped around to face him and launched into a monologue. “What? That is ridiculous and completely untrue, my friend. The fact that you have a penis has NOTHING to do with what you like. You like Princesses. You like super heros. You like Transformers. Because you are Thomas, not because you are a boy.”

“But Mom!” he cried, “I’m not Thomas! I’m Leonardo!” (Leonardo the Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtle-his latest obsession)

“Fair enough. You are Leonardo. Listen up, Leonardo. What you like has to do with you, not with your penis. Girls and boys get to like whatever they want. Do you go it?”

“I got it.”

“Good.”

Jesus fucking christ. T isn’t even four yet. He isn’t getting this gender role bullshit from Z and me. He isn’t getting it from his awesome teachers at school. Nick Jr. (his surrogate mother) isn’t great in the gender department, but it isn’t terrible either. Yet already the message is somehow getting through.

My approach will be to call bullshit on him whenever he goes there. To be mindful about how we talk about boys and girls-they might pee differently–so? Who cares? How they pee doesn’t mean they can’t achieve the same things. They have a hell of a lot more in common than not. I am fired up and ready to always confront gender issues head on. But man, I am sad. I know he was just trying to get the damn digger, still I’m sad it was so easy for him to declare that girls don’t like trucks. This sadness is legitimate. It doesn’t need to be examined. It has nothing to do with my mental illness. It’s a healthy response and I can take it and use it to work towards changing his attitude  Because rest assured, this kid will be raised to respect women and expect that women can do anything men can if it kills me. Thankfully Z is 100% on the same page.

post pool

Chilling after their Fighting for Feminism lecture, um, I mean after hanging at the pool….

dad furniture

Daddy made some excellent chainsaw furniture for the treehouse at Grandmom and Granddad’s house.

boy in backpack

Someone has a stowaway in his backpack. We’ll let him out as soon as he understands that a girl’s desire to play with trucks can be just as strong and is every bit as legitimate as a boy’s. I kid, I kid. Sort of.

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9 thoughts on “What Just Came Out of Your Mouth?

  1. Consider the television commercials that come on between the programs he watches. Those may be the culprits of defined gender roles 😉 (commercials for toy trucks, generally contain all boys, commercials for dolls, generally contain all girls.)

    • Yeah, I agree with this! I also remember something (from a long time ago, so the efficacy of the rest of my reply might not be true…) that little children don’t really know the difference between TV show and TV commercial, that in their brain they register the same. So it could be that he’s watching gender okay shows, but then watching a bunch of mini gender biased mini-shows in-between?

      Also, it could have been a ploy by a very crafty little one to get something he wants 😉

    • Totally true, although we stick to PBS or Nick Jr. We love that Nick Jr. only does like two commercials a half hour (although we wonder how they make any money). They can be very targeted to traditional gender roles, but there is one for a line of fairy dolls that always plays and T desperately wants one of those dolls…

  2. I love this post. I always have massive mounds of respect for a set of parents who are doing their part in preventing gender roles. I think it’s really amazing that you told him that he likes what he does because he’s his own, and now because of his gender.
    I admire you (and Z) so much for this.

  3. Pingback: Hypocrite | Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable

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