Today a girlfriend may have committed minor sabotage on my tomboy plans for my daughter by taking her to a few minutes of a ballet lesson for little girls. What could I do? There was no legitimate objection I could think of. Sophie later mentioned the “beautiful dresses” and I asked her, “Who thought they were pretty?” and she replied, “Abbi decided.” Yeah, I thought so. I wasn’t there, and although Sophie probably found the concept of running around in a tutu and dancing pretty fun, I really don’t know how taken she was with the girliness of it all (there are no Billy Elliots in this class, sadly). Honestly? It doesn’t seem her bag, and I’ll bet I don’t hear another word about it. With her personality and the way we spend our time, I don’t see a lot of uber-feminine behavior in her future.
Or at least – my God, I hope not. But it’s not up to me. And I admit I have a chip on my shoulder about it.
Am I the only parent who just finds the boy vs.girl shit totally annoying? I don’t mean the different clothing, toys, and color preferences we see in our children – we can talk all day about how these divisions along gender lines can be chalked up to biology or culture. I don’t really care either way and I’m not seeking to force a more egalitarian model on children and families who aren’t interested. No, I mean how quickly parents seem to want to jump on a child’s sex as a reason, justification, excuse, or means to something the parent finds mentally, physically, or emotionally convenient. Are ponies a hit, and therefore the easy (lazy) choice for toys come the holidays? Not feeling like pulling your little wee man off the neighbor dog as he pummels it? Ah, time to whip out the “Boys are so high energy…”, “It’s so true, girls love horses…” tripe. Snore.
I’m not a girlie-girl. I’m a woman. My nonplussed attitude to all things saccharine goes way back. As a child I remember running around with my brother on the public beach with tar cemented to the soles of our feet while wearing a pair of briefs and no top (anthology of Southern California Hippie Trash forthcoming, one of these days). For toys I had books and Legos, Legos, and … more Legos. Not one Barbie, Cabbage Patch doll, or Care Bear ever in my possession (there were some My Little Ponies, if I remember). Dresses, I wore as a little girl, abandoned for years as soon as I hit second grade or so, and now only rarely wear with shorts or tights underneath so I can do what I normally do with my legs – squat, spread ’em, and bend over – without worrying about it.
I don’t have a problem with the traditionally feminine in principle; I just know I’m going to be at a loss if my daughter goes for the Easy-Bake Holly Hobby Fucking Oven Set. So far? Not really. She favors dinosaurs and bugs; the last toy I bought her was a Mummy card set and she’s been working on memorizing Egyptian gods. My son sleeps with a Madeline doll (Sophie never took to a doll of any sort except this hideous lizard my sister sent her months ago), but he also displays such “masculine” traits as pummeling the neighbor dog (which we don’t let him get away with) and fondling his genitals. Hmmm, as I’m writing this I’m realizing my kids aren’t so much masculine or feminine, as unappealing.
But, in a non-gender-specific kind of way, I guess.