Friday, December 5, 2014

Breaking Out of the Box

My son is a boy. He's a rough and tumble, kind and gentle, wonderful boy. He likes cars and ninjas and those camo pants that I abhor. He sleeps with his stuffed animals and plays pretend with his sister. He loves to accessorize and has fun painting Mama's nails and fixing Mama's hair. My son is a boy.

My daughter's a girl. She loves making bracelets and singing in choir. She plays video games and collects Pokemon cards. She hates brushing her hair, doesn't mind getting dirty, and gets along better with boys than she does other girls. My daughter's a girl.

Society keeps telling my kids who to be and what they should wear, play with, and say. My son is only six and yet my husband and I already find ourselves correcting the voices that tell him what boys are "supposed to" do and say and play with and watch on tv. My daughter is only nine, and is struggling with her peers' sneering at her for playing with the boys, reading books, and drawing anime characters on her notebook.

I hate stereotypes. Those tiny boxes, so small you feel trapped and confined in there. Yet, when someone puts you in, it can be so difficult to find your way out again. People are different. We are, by definition, not cut from the same mold. What works for one, doesn't work for all, and what is pleasant for one, can be despicable to another. My husband likes pickles, and I cannot stand the smell of them, much less their sour taste and slimy interior. If this difference can be accepted, so, too, can the differences in gender roles.

When women in the U.S. first wanted to wear pants instead of dresses and skirts, we were balked at by men and even other women who considered the choice insane and far too liberal. Now we wear pants, shorts, capris, and everything in-between, and no one bats an eye. My hope is that one day my children and their children will see the same tolerance when it comes to the toys they play with and the people they love.

Let's break the rules and let children be themselves. Let them be children. Why take away their freedoms simply because they are young? I say, if little Johnny wants to play with a doll and wear fairy wings, then he should be allowed to do so without strangers batting an eye. If Suzy wants to dress up as Spiderman and save the princesses instead of being one, more power to her. Let the children like what they like, and you know what? Perhaps they won't be so screwed up once they reach adulthood.

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