Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ballet, Kale & Gender norms

Equal opportunity, right?
I want my daughter and son to have the same options in life. If Redding is in sports, then birdie too will be in sports.  If Birdie takes ballet then I also want Redding to have the opportunity to also dance.

This is the way it was going to go before I had children, back when I knew everything about raising kids and it was going to be so easy.  They were going to fit perfectly into my liberal mom box. And I was going to show the world just. how. you. do. it.

But at what point do you call a spade a spade?  How many Tball games do I force Birdie to play? You'd think I told her the world was ending when she found out  she couldn't wear a dress to the first game:
"Panntttssss" She screamed "I caaaan't wearrrrr paaants". 
Just the thought of wearing pants gave her such distress, her legs actually gave out and she collapsed onto the floor (have mercy child).

Maybe it's just time to give in and let them both do exactly what they want (not with all things of course, just in extracurricular activities). Will I get better results? Should I just let her dress like a princess everyday? Put her in ballet as soon as possible?  And say screw sports altogether?

The other night during dinner there was full blown battle over kale.
'I don't want to eat it' Redding yelled.
'Well, tough luck, you have to.'   (Obviously my creativity overflows into my parenting techniques)
... and so on.
Until finally he looked at me calmly and said 'You are NOT the boss of my body'.

Aw kid, I am too tired for this.
I think about 15 seconds went by, eyes locked. I know he thinks he won, shit! I thought he won.
These days as parents we teach consent young. 'Your body, your choice'.  You don't have to hug anyone you don't want to. etc.

I look at him and calmly respond, 'you're right, you ARE the boss of your own body.  But baby, you're still 6 years old and Mama and Papa are here to teach you how to be the boss of your body'.
'We are like the head Guards of your body!  And just like guards protect a king, it is our job to protect your body.  Today, I have to protect your body from sickness. And the best way I know to do that, is to make sure kale get's in it.'
Ain't another word y'all. That boy ate that kale.

How much of my job as the Guard of Birdie's body is to make her participate in sports? As the guard isn't it my job to make sure she is well rounded?

Or perhaps it's not really well-rounded that I care about.
Perhaps this is about my own ego and gender-norms.

I think I just so badly didn't want there to be gender differences. If they were in sports I wanted them BOTH to be in sports.
If they were in music, I wanted them BOTH to be in music.
If they were in dance, I wanted them BOTH to be in dance.

At what point do us liberal moms, just accept that we got a traditional 'boyish' boy and a traditional 'girly' girl?
As a progressive, I think we are so prepared to let our boys be like girls and our girls be like boys and to say 'fuck gender norms'!
But at what point, is supporting your child, supporting traditional gender roles?
The point is to support your child, no matter what gender they are, no matter what they are into.
And so for birdie, is that putting her into ballet?
Is that saying: 'I see you baby. I see your sparkly heart. I see you want to be girly and dance your way into oblivion. I don't know anything about that world, but I will guard you as best I can it it.'

I guess my question becomes, how much of parenting is shaping them? and how much of it is letting them shape us?

Also, make your kids eat the kale.

1 comment:

  1. That last picture - so cute & so accurately illustrates what she thinks about all this :)

    I don't have kids, so I don't have any advice. I do have a friend with twin girls & they got one of each - girly girl & tomboy. It's been interesting watching them navigate that, but overall I think they just recognize their very different personalities & run with it. And I think the shaping is on both sides - everyone comes out at the other end a little (or a lot!) different than when they started. Good luck with your two!