I love this 1981 LEGO ad. To me, this is the quintessential happy kid.
There are some things as a parent I’ve vowed not to obsess over. Because they’re a waste of time and energy and don’t matter when it’s all said and done. If they ever matter to my child, it won’t be because I made them seem important when he was growing up.
Gender-y stuff is a big one. I don’t get all bent when my son points out the princess castle EVERY DAY at preschool (instead of say, the firetruck). Or flip a lid when he wants to hold his male friend’s hand. Or is curious about my makeup and fake applies blush to his face.
Because, guess what? KIDS ARE KIDS.
They like all of the toys (and the boxes the toys come in – *especially* the boxes the toys come in) and rocks and water and bugs and things you and I don’t even see anymore. They like being with their friends. They like showing friends affection and enthusiasm with hugs and hand-holding. Kisses, even. This is an innocent time. I fully intend to let my son enjoy this time without any adult’s ideas of what a boy or girl should be.
Children care about having fun and exploring the world – they do not differentiate between blue and pink, gay and straight, feminine and masculine. No, it’s the adults who do that.
I know I’m not being very scientific here (if my use of “gender-y stuff” is any indication). There are entire fields of study built around this topic. I know it’s more complicated than a blog post. I’m not naive.
But I know shaming a child for going outside of his or her gender stereotypes does not help in raising a confident, empathetic person (given that’s what we aim for). Limiting a child to a certain color or toy or area of interest does nothing to encourage independent thinking or discovery. Yanking a doll from a little boy’s hand because it’s “for girls,” for example, is basically telling him girl-things are wrong. That and the fact that there are things, as a boy, you can’t and should not enjoy or want. Talk about totally cutting your child off from a major part of the human experience.
Me? I’d like to keep my son’s innocent years free from the confines of the sort of bizarre creature that is gender role stereotypes. Having a happy child is more important to me than pretty much anything else in this world.