Lets Hear it for the Boys

Posted on | May 15, 2012 | 23 Comments

While I was out of town, I overheard a conversation that made me sad.  A little boy and his mother were looking at a book and the mother pointed to a picture and laughed.

“Look at that, isn’t that silly?  Boys don’t belong at tea parties,” she grinned at the child and he nodded, albeit slowly.

It wasn’t a big deal, wasn’t out of the ordinary in any startling way… except that maybe it should have been. 

I instantly thought about my childhood and how my mother always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be.  I thought that probably, that mother holding that book said the same to her little girls, pointing out doctors and lawyers and baseball players and saying that her little girl, her precious daughter could grow up to be any and everything she’s ever wanted to be.  And that’s true.  It’s good and right and important that our daughters know they can be whoever and whatever they want to be.

But what about our sons?

Who is making sure that we do the same for them? Who is standing up for all our little boys who want to play with a baby doll or pour tea for their imaginary friends?  Who is saying “of course” when they ask to be ballet dancers or nurses or teachers?  Who tells them that they can wear a head band with a bow if they want to, or pink galoshes, or try on their mother’s make up? 

Because if it is right and good and true to tell our daughters they can play sports and climb trees and wear ball caps, then why is it not similarly true for our sons to paint their toe nails, bake cakes, and wear tiaras? 

My son loves to play rough and tumble.  He loves to run full speed through the yard pretending to be a super hero and sometimes, that super hero is Captain Hammer. But sometimes? Sometimes that hero is Weather Girl.  And I do not point out any distinction between the two.  Because to him, they are both awesome Backyardigan superheroes.  They are not boy vs. girl, man vs. woman, proper pretend play vs. oh-my-god-he-called-himself-a-girl-and-now-hes-going-to-be-mocked-forever.  He’s not even three.  If he wants to wear pink tutus and a tiara and pretend to be a princess, then great! If he wants to put on cleats and a ball cap and pretend to be Babe Ruth? Equally great.

Someone needs to stand up for our boys… for our sons… to teach them that they, too, can be anything and anyone they want to be. 

It is not just our daughters who need to believe in magic or the improbable.  Our sons need to know that it is okay for them to be anything they want to be.  And if we can’t do that? If we are so blinded by our own gender stereotypes that we can’t open our eyes to the fact that children are all just children?  They all want to pretend and play and dream bigger than anything we could ever imagine.   They all want to be loved for precisely and exactly the person they are at the minute they are that person.  And if we can’t do that, even if it means buying the pink tiara for our Sams and Johns and Marks?

Well then… maybe we’re not as advanced as a society as we think we are.


23 Responses to “Lets Hear it for the Boys”

  1. Jennifer Williams
    May 15th, 2012 @ 8:50 am

    Yes. I agree! My four year old asked to be in dance next year like his sister. I can’t wait to sign him up.

  2. Lawmomma77
    May 15th, 2012 @ 9:01 am

    Yay! I can’t wait for J to be old enough to do all of that fun stuff!!

  3. Jana A (@jana0926)
    May 15th, 2012 @ 8:53 am

    This is exactly right. I continue to be amazed at people who are so insistent that their sons/daughters ONLY do boy/girl stuff and anything outside of that is not just weird, but WRONG.

    Our boys can be and do whatever they want. So can our girls!

  4. Lawmomma77
    May 15th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    EXACTLY!!! This is why I love you. 🙂

  5. Caitlin MidAtlantic
    May 15th, 2012 @ 9:15 am

    My husband wanted/wants our daughter to be a tomboy so badly (no clue why), and is happy that she shows so much interest in watching sports with him and playing catch. But at the same time, I giggle every time I see Nate sit down for a tea party, or put a new outfit on a dolly. Kids will be what they want to be – it’s the most wonderful thing!

  6. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

    Agreed! 🙂

  7. Jenna
    May 15th, 2012 @ 9:28 am

    Hooray for mamas with boys who stand up. I kind of want mine to ask to go to dance class. I love that he has a well developed sensitive side at 2 and I’m planning on nurturing it.

  8. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    Same here. I want J to be as well rounded as possible.

  9. Muriel
    May 15th, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    Love this post. My son wanted to wear pig tails when he was your son’s age b/c all the little girls at daycare had them and I wore ponytails. He loved to brush my hair and I would put bands in his hair…he loved it! He also loves to have tea parties. They did this at school when studying continents and customs. He thinks it is so fun! He also loves to climb trees, wrestle, etc. Good for you!!!

  10. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Exactly! Both sexes can be multi-dimensional! 🙂

  11. pinkflipflops44
    May 15th, 2012 @ 10:36 am

    I completely agree. I don’t know how many times at work I have to say, that isn’t a boy / girl toy that is a kid toy. Esssh.

  12. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    YES!!! They are just toys.

  13. Heather Griffitts Clark
    May 15th, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    Lordy me – if I had to correct my toddler son every time he followed after his sister in her party dresses and tutus in his own version of that, I’d be even more worn out than I already am having two young children!

    Kids are kids, and left to their own creative devices, their true personalities will shine!

  14. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    Amen!! Just let them be… They have years and years of conformity ahead of them.

  15. MaconMom
    May 15th, 2012 @ 11:16 am

    Monkey likes to carry a bag like Mommy. You’re right. I hope daycare lets them play dress up in whatever they want. I think they allow equal opportunity for the toys.

  16. Law Momma
    May 15th, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    I think they do, though I have heard “that’s not yours… Boys don’t wear bows” which kind of rubs me wrong.

  17. Alex@LateEnough
    May 15th, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    I totally agree and so surprised to realized how much we push boys into boxes so early (girls get it later on). But it is also exhausting to keep up. I work so hard to give my son all the possibilities in this world, but I can’t keep other kids at school or on the playground from saying things. Watching others take away his right to dance or wear a bow and only allow him to play his soccer and wear a baseball cap makes me cry. We continue to do it and teach him that they are wrong and it is HIS choice, but it’s not always an easy or supported stand to take.
    (I’ve written about our experience some: http://www.lateenough.com/2011/01/the-yellow-bow/)

  18. Lawmomma77
    May 15th, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    Exactly. Let J tell me when and what he wants to wear, do, play… he’s just a child. Let him be a child for as long as he wants.

  19. Tracey
    May 16th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    One of my favorite photos of my son is the one where he is wearing a tutu, goggles and carrying a small plastic chainsaw. Manly, yet fashionable….

  20. Mom22girls16
    May 16th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    This post is so awesome, I don’t even know how to tell you how awesome it is. If we could all just accept others for who and how they are instead of trying to fit them into these little pre-defined boxes that society has said people need to fit into then the world would be a much happier and peaceful place.

  21. kerri tobin
    May 17th, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    i once heard a mom in the fabric store tell her preschool son that the fabric he’d picked out for his curtains was “too girly.” it made me very, very sad. assuming you’ve seen this:

  22. lawmomma
    May 17th, 2012 @ 11:48 am

    I have NOT seen that but will check it out right now! Thanks!

  23. Adriane Carpenter
    May 17th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    My son always comes into the bathroom while I’m getting dressed in the morning, and frequently plays with my makeup. Like all little kids do, the other morning I looked up to find him mimicking me putting on my eye shadow…and the words, “Boys don’t wear makeup!” crossed my lips before I could even reign them in. 🙁 I realized my mistake, and he’s probably too little to remember the significance of my statement. I really only said it to prevent damage to my expensive MAC brushes, but the words haunted me far beyond that. I talked to him later and told him that I love him no matter what…and I hope he always knows that I will never stop loving him or start judging him for any decision he makes in the future…even if it involves wearing makeup. 🙂

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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