Letting Boys Be More Than Boys

I thought that God would give us only girls.  We are feminists.  S was apart of an anti-sexual assault group throughout college and medical school.   I am always fighting against the old boys club (which is probably why I couldn’t get along with ANYONE during my surgery rotation).  We are GIRL parents.

But at our first 20 week ultrasound, there was a penis.  And E was born 19 weeks later.  (Already such a good boy — arriving six days early!)

So now I have this little boy to nurture and grow.  A boy that I worry about as much as I worry about my girl.  And from a WHO-CARES-ABOUT-WHITE-MEN woman, it’s quite a surprise to me.

My biggest fear (which is not unique to me) is E learning to be someone he’s not:

Pink is a GIRL color.

Boys don’t have BABY DOLLS.

Isn’t that TUTU for your sister?

So when we discovered E’s love of tassels on the end of bike handles, my wonderful husband bought him a set.  And when my husband gave the sparkly flower tassels to E, my son said with joy: I love them so much! Thank you, Dada!

So maybe God gave us a boy so he could just be any kid he wants to be… for just a little longer….

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Mamarazzi

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

40 thoughts to “Letting Boys Be More Than Boys”

  1. Great Post. I know I am an emotional mess already. But I cried looking at the picture (which boys aren't supposed to do:)

  2. GREAT post!! I love this topic and, at risk of sounding like your twin again, I totally hear you on the “We are GIRL parents.” I am such a feminist, went to a women's college blah blah…I wanted a girl soooo badly and literally cried for 2 days after we saw the ultrasound. Now I just love my son beyond words and I love having the chance to raise him to be a good man. One of his best friends is a girl, and for his birthday he was praying like crazy she'd get him a Barbie. His heart just sunk when he unwrapped the present and saw that it wasn't a Barbie. I don't care though. He likes hello Kitty too, and bugs and race cars and dirt. It's sad society starts shaping them to be a certain way. I think it's GREAT that your husband got your son the tassles. Maybe even more important than the messages we moms give is the messages the dads give. See?? Score another point for having done your job landing the right guy!

  3. I've caught my 3 year old wearing my daughter's dresses. Not out in public, mind you, but whatever floats your boat, as my very old parents would say. I think at this age they really just don't care.

  4. You're only young once and why not enjoy it whether it's wearing your sisters tutu or having tassels on your bike

  5. Children are children, don't you think.

    I posted up a quote when my children were itty bitty, and it's been up since. “Accept a child for who he is, and watch him blossom.”


  6. I grew up the only girl on the block my age and played with rough and tumble boys 24/7. I had G.I. Joe action figures, Star Wars, He-Man. I was offended when I was told I had to play the “girl” part when role playing because I was a girl. I could be a great Skeletor! When She-Ra came on the seen I felt vindicated. I went to WWF wrestling matches and wanted to be a Roller Derby Queen. So why do I balk at Riley wanting to play with my make-up? That's a little double standard I didn't even think about! So, I painted Abby Caddaby on my baby's nursery wall. “What if it's a boy?” My husband questioned. He'll think fairies are magical and fun…and? Riley loved pink so much he never saw it, so this kid will not be deprived. Boy or not.

  7. I didn't know what kind of parent I was – we didn't find out until she was born that (for now at least) we will be girl parents. We would have been happy either way, and I think we would also have to be careful either way with how they perceive themselves, whether through our eyes or society's.

    Yes, she may wear a pink shirt, but if she wants a blue one from the boys' section, that's fine by us too. In fact, more power to her, to be able to enjoy a wider selection when shopping.

    I've posted about this in my own blog, and every day I watch out for emerging signs of gender role acceptance, and every day I wonder what I would do.

  8. My daughter wears some of my son's hand-me-downs and people think she's a boy. But people thought E was a girl so I just shrug… I am surprised at how much I enjoy putting bows in her hair though!
    I'd love the link to your blog post on it!

  9. I was surprised at how much I had to walk through the double-standard, too, because I was also a tomboy. I actually didn't even think that there WAS a double-standard until I had a boy and would stop and think about what color his shirt was.
    I love that Abby Caddaby is on the nursery wall. You rock!

  10. What a fabulous quote! In fact, a friend just quoted you on twitter to other friends! You're the talk of the twown!! (twitter + town. I'm a loser.)

  11. it seems like we're born laid back, then get all uptight about what everyone thinks, and when we get old, we get laid back again… i'm looking forward to it! (if only it didn't come with gray hair and wrinkles..)

  12. i went into complete shock at the ultrasound. And because i was SO convinced it would be a girl, I thought that I had no maternal instincts either (i couldn't FEEL that it was a boy)… but the same thinking happened for me. I'm so happy to have my lovely My Little Pony, soccer-loving, dirty, sparkly son.
    And I'm glad that we found each other cyber-twin.

  13. It's funny that you say this. I was the resident feminist at my old school, and students thought I was going to die when I found out I was having a boy. (I knew I was having one before I even got pregnant.) I love having a sweet, sensitive boy, and I also think that some of my political anger has toned down a bit. (Probably a good thing.) Now a girl, on the other hand…. I have way more in store for her than I think she needs, and probably too much expectation. That's actually what I'll have to work on. (Because girly things are okay. Maybe even fairytales? That's gonna be a tough one.)

  14. This post made me cry… partly because I met E right before and right after he was born. And that alone was a total honor. What a beautiful boy he is!

    But the other reason I got teary was because I wonder what the world would be like if more men had had parents that allowed them to like what they like. More parents that encouraged tomorrow's men to nurture a doll. More parents like you. Thank GOD you have a boy.

    My only wish is that my daughters will fall in love with men (or women, for that matter) raised by people like you!

  15. Such adorable photos! Especially the one of him sleeping with his baby doll. And the last line of your post is just lovely: “So maybe God gave us a boy so he could just be any kid he wants to be… for just a little longer….”

    My E has a baby doll, but he's taken no interest in it at all. He does love to push around the doll's hot pink stroller, though. (Why must all play strollers be pink?)

  16. I may have said this before but it KILLS me when parents say about their kids (usually about their sons) “He's all boy”, or “She's all girl”. When the kids are like SIX MONTHS old! What does that even mean?? Those pictures are great!

  17. You are so right to do as you do – children, especially when young, need to just be able to express themselves and be creative any which way they want. It so should not be about what boys do or what girls do and adhering to that. My three year old daughter has absolutely no interest in dolls and very little in tea parties and other really girlie things. After her first couple of ballet classes she grew bored and told me she did not want to go any more and has never been back since. She just loves animals and creating ever expanding collections of all things small – feathers, clips, stones, leaves etc. Whatever makes her happy is good enough for me (although I might have a word or two to say if she later decides she thinks pole dancing is a great career option!)

  18. He is perfect 🙂
    From a mommy of a boy who would probably go crazy for tassels too :). Only he is 10 now and way too cool for tassels, but when he was 4 he would have been beyond delighted : )

    I think all children are wonderful just as they are!

  19. Boy or girl, it's the sign of a good parent who encourages a child to have their own tastes, to pursue what makes them happy. Like letting my girl wear pink (AKA “the color of oppression” from my childhood). And good daddies cry.

  20. I totally agree. The only time my son got in trouble this year was when he broke all the pink crayons at his table. Why? Because the girls made fun of him when he said he liked pink. So we have had many conversations telling him that he can like WHATEVER colors he likes. My youngest carries around a bright pink Dora doll. We get stares, but who cares. He loves her (and she loves him, or so her recording says). Tired tired tired of gender stereotyping. let people be people whoever they are.

  21. I love this post, it is something we deal with regularly. My oldest loves my high heel shoes, to cook, play dress up, and play in my makeup. I figure why not. When my youngest was a boy, I too cried because I never felt I was a “mom of boys” but it turns out, I pride myself in being “a mom of boys”. Thanks for the reminder that real men wear pink. 🙂

  22. isn't it funny how we get what we need (even when we don't realize that we
    will be good at it!) — and i love that you let your sons be themselves!

  23. At 17, 6'2″, 200lbs, my boy, who had a baby doll of his own, still loves pink. And sparkle. And hugs. And his mom. He'd rather play music than sports and can even belt a killer Barry Manilow. His girlfriend of two years loves how sensitive he is, and so do I.

    E sounds awesome and so do you guys for letting him be uniquely him.

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