Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Caught! - Are You Concerned about Gender Identity?

Saturday was so hot my husband called it a day early and we loaded up the kids for a quick trip up to the city and our favorite indoor water park.

While getting out things from our locker, I had the kids sit down and wait. The kids were in their suits and we were leaving as soon as we all changed. A Mom sitting on the same bench looked at my 5-year old son and asked, "Did you paint his nails?"

It was a moment of panic for me. I wasn't sure how to react to the question. Yes, I had painted my son's toenails blue and purple when I painted my daughter's. I have heard enough comments and snickers from my Brother-in-law regarding my son playing dress-up or our family's pink cooler to know what some people think of  "girly things". But when my son asked me to paint them I couldn't come up with a good enough reason not to. I mean, is "...because you're a boy." a good enough reason?

The Mother at the pool had caught me!

I consider myself pretty gender neutral in the house. I have a son and daughter so our toy box is brimming with trucks, construction equipment, dolls and feather boas. The beautiful thing about kids is they just want to explore and play. Kids aren't born with gender specific ideas, society helps with that as they get older. My daughter loves nurturing her dolls, but my son also enjoys a good tea party.

Last Christmas my son pointed out he didn't have a doll. His sister was not going to let him borrow any of hers. So under our tree I put the Lalaloopsy Patch Treasure Chest for my son. He was thrilled. The doll is targeted for boys and I hoped he would enjoy it. The little pirate doll is very cute and fit with my son's pirate fascination, too. Now it has found it's way into my daughter's collection. He asked for it, but then never played with it. I like to think he was checking whether I would let him have one.

Now I don't let my son wear dresses or pierce his ears, but then again... he hasn't shown an interest.

Did you ever hear about the young child in Great Britain that was raised in the extreme of being gender-less? The 5-year old Sasha was dressed in everything from gender neutral clothing to pink fairy costumes and the parents refused to tell anyone whether their child was a girl or boy till recently. They wanted him to grow up outside the stereotype. This may seem crazy but isn't it just as strange to be phobic about something as innocent as nail polish or a doll?

So the Mother at the pool? She didn't judge me. In fact, she admitted to painting her own son's nails when he asked. He was the only grandson in a group of granddaughters and being left out was hard. We shared a smile and quick exchange over  the pressures of gender identity and the curiosity of small boys.

I was caught, but found out I was in good company. What are your thoughts on gender identity?
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