I was a psychology major in school. I have to say at the time I believed everything I was taught. I believed that society created aggression in boys. I believed that we could gender neutralize our boys and take some of the fight out of them. I was against toy guns and had decided my boys would play with dolls if they wanted. I was not going to contribute to the violence that is already prevalent in society. I had also decided my daughter would not get sucked into gender roles. I would ensure she had the opportunity to be and become. She would get a toy push mower and have plastic tools. I would try to make her gender neutral as well. After all, if we reached this state of neutrality as a society and as a world, this would end violence and wars and we would all get along.
When I wrote my graduation invitations out to my married family members, I put the woman’s name first. I was taught by my professor to do the opposite of what society expected. Why couldn’t the woman’s name appear first on the invitation? Mrs. Aunt and Mr. Uncle. I was liberated, informed and educated. I was time to take on the world. Woman Power!
Then about 8 years after graduating from college, I had my first child. The teenager was born. He always wanted to be in my arms or siting next to me. He was cautious about going far from me. A couple of years after that, my Honeygirl was born. I would watch them play with toys and he was always more aggressive than she was. He wasn’t tear the head off the doll aggressive but he was more launch the doll into the air and make it fly aggressive. She always cuddled and coddled her dolls. She didn’t want to launch them into the air like her brother. She wanted to dress them and feed them and love them like they were her babies. She has always loved to color, draw and paint. She is an artist in the making. I have a picture of her when she was a year and a half. She is gripping a handful of crayons. Her dad sent me a picture recently. In the picture, she is gripping a hand full of crayons.
Then, the other two were born. Little dude came into the world and within minutes, opened his eyes and began looking around. He was trying to take it all in from the very start. He is still observant, sensitive and inquisitive. Then Stud Muffin was born. If I still had any doubts about babies being born with a defined personality, he brought the final clarity I needed. He as always been um, well, how can I put this? He came with a strong cry and a way of demanding what he wanted. As soon as he could hit, or throw something he would. As soon as he could stand and hold a ball he was bouncing the ball. As soon as he could stand up and hold a bat, he was swinging. He has always been opinionated and independent.
What I learned from watching them grow from infancy to now is we come here with certain personality traits. I can cultivate them and nurture them but they are who they are. I understand that as parents, we have the responsibility to nurture our kids and teach them to be productive citizens. I could have turned my head as the Stud threw his brother down and sat on his back but I stepped in and helped him learn how to express his frustrations with his words instead of his actions. I could have listened to the Honeygirl cry from exasperation and joined her pity party but instead I empower her to stand up for herself and speak out.
I bought her Hot Wheels every time I bought the boys one. I bought the boys stuffed animals every time I bought her one. But they did not gender neutralize. They had a toy kitchen that everyone cooked in. She had a baby stroller that the boys used as an excuse and run and race through the house.
I am no longer trying to create a generation of gender neutral children. I am trying to embrace their personalities and give them tools to help them navigate the world we live in. Each of them needs a different set of tools. One might need courage, another better communication, one definitely needs less carbs to help remain calm, and another hugs and kisses to make it through the day. What they get from me is the encouragement to be the best them. I love and accept them the way they were wonderfully created.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s