(Why #ThrowbackThursday? Because this piece originally appeared on my previous blog www.grrrlwithboys.blogspot.com on March 10, 2013.)
While I sit here at my local Starbucks pondering my next move in my discussion with my 3 1/2 year old, I’m reflecting on some of the other conversations I’ve had with Jackson since the Toys R’ Us incident. He and I were playing legos in his room and he said something about the little man sitting up in the lego tower. I asked him if he had a little woman that could sit up in his tower too. He said “I’m a boy and I only play with boys toys. Womens are girl toys and only girls play with girl toys.” Realizing my explanation to him in the toy store that “toys are for everybody” didn’t sink in, I continued down this path with my fingers crossed.
I asked him the difference between girl toys and boy toys and he just said “boys play with boy toys and girls play with girl toys”. He’s three, almost four. He doesn’t understand some words so I’m not sure he knew what I was asking when I told him to tell me the “difference” between those toys. I again assured him that he could play with any toy that he liked and that toys are for everybody. “BUT I’M A BOY AND I PLAY WITH BOY TOYS NOT GIRL TOYS!” Yes, here comes the melt down. I know it’s because he’s being told one thing at home and learning another at school. It’s got to be confusing for him. I’m seriously pissed at these Preschool people, I’m just not sure how to approach it with him.
I held him and snuggled him and told him it was alright. “Yes, I know you’re a boy, but that has nothing to do with what toys you can play with. You can play with any toys that you like and so can other little boys and girls. Mommy and Daddy played with all kinds of toys when they were your age.” He eventually calmed down and I gave him a bath. That seemed to soothe him. It at least distracted him because he got to play with the bubbles and his boats. I knew it was futile to try to reason with him any further when he was already in meltdown mode.
The next day we were playing legos again and I told him we needed to get him more so he could build more things. “Did you know that they have pink legos, Jackson?” I said. “I want some pink legos! Pink is my favorite color!” Aha! So they have told him that he can’t play with girl toys but they haven’t told him everything that would be classified as girl toys (like anything that is pink). They know his favorite color is pink. He plays with the pink ball in the gym in the mornings when we drop him off. So, maybe it’s the teachers or maybe it’s the other kids, or both. He’s only said the teachers have told him about boy toys and girl toys. This warrants further investigation.
He likes vacuums and cooking and kitchen stuff so he either hasn’t been told those are for girls or he chooses not to listen to that nonsense. Maybe since his daddy is the cook in our family, and the best cleaner for that matter, that they didn’t change his mind about those things. It’s hard to figure this stuff out when you’re dealing with a 3 – 4 year old. I just have to check my reactions as soon as he blurts stuff like this out and then be strategic with how I respond. I don’t want to upset him, I just want him to be free to be who he is. I told my husband that if he ends up only liking cars and trains and trucks then that is fine with me, as long as it is his choice and not something that he thinks he has to like because he is a boy.
Yesterday I asked him two separate times what he wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him and he immediately said “Miss Piggy!” and then later “Tinker Bell surprise eggs and Cars surprise eggs”. So, there is some evidence that he’s well balanced in his likes and confident enough to not let what someone else says limit him. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster! They say being a parent is hard work but I don’t think they meant this. It would be so easy to push the whole pink/blue agenda on him, but it’s so much more rewarding to let him explore what he likes and be who he is. I’m so proud of him.
I wonder how things will go with Myles… (Update, I’m just beginning to have these conversations with Myles. We’ve had the “where are the girls” and “where are the boys” conversations when only one gender was represented in a show. He usually responds with “Yeah, where are the…”. He’s also in super-terrible three year old mode right now so I’m spoon feeding him this stuff.)