It has been around since the beginning of time, but I'm not sure I ever gave too much thought about it until now. I wasn't raised with the idea; I guess it never occurred to me to think twice about it. But since becoming a mother, I have finally realized that the world is wrought with double standards.
Men are tough; women are shrews. Women are sensitive; men are weak. Girls can play with cars; boy shouldn't play with dolls. Seriously? Utter nonsense.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of something that happened this week. Lottie and Dallas were playing dress-up one afternoon, and they decided to play a hilarious trick on me. They dressed up like each other; in other words, Lottie dressed like a fireman and Dallas dressed like a princess. They both thought it would be funny to make me think they had traded places, and I did get a good laugh out of it. I took a picture of the end result, of course, and I thought it was beyond adorable. I shared the picture with some other people, though, and I was surprised by the response.
Everyone thought it was weird. A few people thought it was cute and weird, and a few people thought it was bizarre and weird. The undertone of the second group was that there was something inherently wrong with it. As a parent, I don't think anything is wrong with my kids; they're absolutely perfect. Lottie is a daredevil who isn't afraid of anything. She'll climb a tree, jump into a pool with wild abandon, pick up a worm after a rainstorm, and cover herself in dirt from head to toe. She also has a heart of gold and worries about everyone and everything. Dallas is afraid to try new things, likes to play by himself, hates to be dirty, and loves to spend time with his mama more than anything in the world. He also loves pirates, pretend weapons, and wrestling with Daddy. They both love things that are usually reserved for the opposite gender, and neither one of them seems to notice or care. Lottie is just as comfortable wearing a princess dress as she is wearing a pirate costume. Dallas loves to be Captain Hook, but he also spends time with Lottie's dollhouse. Trevor and I bought Dallas a play kitchen for his big Christmas gift, and he loves to cook in it, especially for me. I refuse to see any of that as weird or wrong; that's just who my kids are. So my three year old son dressed up like a girl on a lark one day. So what? Lottie was dressed like a boy, and no one seemed to care about that. Sure, there are women firefighters, so that's perfectly acceptable, but she was dressed like a male firefighter, a fact she was quick to clarify.
I want them to grow up in a world where they can do whatever they want to do and be whomever they want to be without fear of repercussions. Of course, I want them first and foremost to be kind, loving, productive human beings. Other than that, I don't care if they dye their hair purple or wear their underwear outside of their clothes. I don't care if Lottie brings home girlfriends or Dallas brings home boyfriends. What I do care about it not who they turn out to be, though. I worry about what other people's reactions to them could be, and that scares me. I don't want my kids to be hurt or maligned because, let's face it, some people are cruel. There was a story online last year about a photograph of a little boy wearing nail polish in a J. Crew advertisement. Some people said the thought of a little boy wearing pink polish was "disgusting" as were the boy's parents for allowing it. There were others who were more accepting and believed that kids should be allowed to explore. I hope that my kids meet people from the latter group and not the former. I hope that as Lottie and Dallas grow and mature, the world grows and matures as well.