I am not one for gender stereotypes. I don’t encourage them and I’m not going to lie, in the back of my mind, I tend to discourage them. In reality, I let my kids be who they want to be and generally do what they want to do. I want them to be respectful and tolerant of others, but in terms of their interests and lifestyle choices, that’s all on them. My girls are awesome… at the tender ages of 9 and 6, they are both very content with who they are and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about it. Peer pressure? What’s that? It doesn’t even register in their minds. And neither of them have really fallen into the definition of what a stereotypical little girl is supposed to be.
Then I have Sir Calvin. When he was in the womb and he’d kick me to death and try to claw his way out like an alien, I would jokingly say to Daniel, “You need to teach your son that it’s not okay to hit women.” I envisioned raising this sweet and mellow, long-haired little boy who loved his mother and sisters in a way that Hallmark describes. I really wanted him to defy all stereotypes, that boys are supposed to be rough and tough and a little crazy. That they are supposed to play with trucks and toy guns and have no interest in baby dolls. Who am I kidding? I secretly wanted him to get attached to a baby doll.
You’d think with my third kid, I’d have realized that I can’t just mold them into what I want them to be. Granted, I never had any desire to do that with the girls. But with my precious son? I had other hopes, other expectations. And I was an idiot. A closed-minded idiot who was creating stereotypes all of her own. I painted a world in my mind where the color blue and toy cars and playing rough were somehow frowned upon, simply because they were the typical gender stereotype.
But he came and he grew into a toddler. And he showed me exactly what an idiot I was. Who the hell am I to tell him that he can’t play with cars or wrestle? The kid lives and breathes for cars and trucks and trains. He throws toys across the room and laughs gleefully. He tackles his sisters. He climbs like a monkey. He pulls on the dog’s tail. He growls. And unfortunately, he does NOT worship is mama like I dreamed that he would. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. He might, but he has a funny way of showing it. In his own little way, he yells at me to get my ass in the kitchen and make him a sammich (i.e. points at the kitchen, shrieks MORE, smacks my leg, and won’t let off me until I do what he wants). He grunts and throws the television remote at me, which is his way of saying “Woman, put on an episode of Thomas before I get REALLY mad.” Demanding? Yeah, that’s a nice way of putting it.
He’s mischievous and a little violent and LOUD and rambunctious. But ya know what? He’s a kid. A toddler, at that. Male or female, it doesn’t matter. This is just who he is. When Elysa would act like that, I’d laugh at the irony of it all. So why should I not be just as accepting of my son’s crazy antics? Simply because he is a boy is NOT a valid reason.
I should probably clarify a little. I DO discourage poor behavior. I don’t want them being totally unruly or hurting others or being disrespectful. But I also don’t want to crush their spirit. I’m not going to create a home where children can’t be children. It’s not “girls will be girls” or “boys will be boys”. It’s that children will be children. End of story. Some children are calm and quiet and naturally well-behaved. Some children are tiny tornadoes with plans to take over the world. And I’m learning to be okay with both.