Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gender Bullshit

My child is driving me apeshit these days with girl v. boy things. It started a few months ago when a friend of his decided she only wanted girls at her birthday party. And I totally understand this, but X-man was kind of -- shocked. He would have no trouble being the only boy or being surrounded by girls (he takes after his father). But he started taking note of things and apparently the social situation at school has taught him this whole gender thing that has driven me nuts.

For example, he has a poster that he got from another birthday party last year that has the Disney Princesses on it. We hung it up in his room so he'd look at it and think of his friend. Then we had a friend over who saw it and made fun of him for it. And the first word out of my kid's mouth wasn't, "It makes me think of my friend." It was, "I'm going to tear that up."


Then I was at Meijer in the clearance aisle and I found some clearance Tag reader books. Those things retail for $15 each, so the fact that they had a selection for $3.50 was a big deal. I took home a Tiana and the Frog book and a Diego Undersea Adventures book. He totally gave me grief about Tiana. I offered to read it with him, and then it was okay. But at Skate night at school, we ran into another one of his friends who saw that they were having a princess night and he was disgusted. Again, I totally get that princesses aren't my kid's favorite things. I'm totally okay with that. But here again, he joined the boy bandwagon and began dissing on the princesses with his friend. It was a cultural norm. Big shock, that for the next 5 years girls will be some kind of enemy. Sigh.

And all the years I spent explaining that there are no girl toys and boy toys there are just toys went right out the window. Then this morning as Bubba and X-man were eating their breakfast, I brought home special donuts. Bubba asked for chocolate donut with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. X-man asked for a vanilla donut with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Well, Schnuck's was out of vanilla donuts except for the Long John's. So I grabbed one of the colored frosting -- you know it's vanilla but with food coloring in it. The choices, because it's near Valentine's Day were pink and purple. I grabbed the purple one.

My child refused to eat it. Bubba could have cared less that his donut had little pink sprinkles and red hearts on it. Maybe it's because he was happy it was a donut. Maybe it's because he has a little sister. Maybe it's because Bubba has really liked the color pink over time. But my child was throwing a fit -- over deep purple. He finally just got up and went to get a yogurt out of his drawer. When I pointed out that his favorite ice cream (strawberry) was pink and that his favorite yogurt (cherry) was pink was he going to stop eating those -- he sighed and asked if we could just put the donut away for later.

Fast forward four months to now -- when he only wants boys at his party. I limited him to a total of 10 kids this year. Last year was at the Little Gym so we could invite lots of children. But this year is more intimate. I tried to keep it to 8, but he struggled a lot between old friends who he felt should be there and that he loves like family with new friends from school.

He has Lego Club at the Orpheum today. They have it the first Sunday of every month. About two weeks ago I got a call from someone from the Orpheum. Apparently, she was calling because there were two kids in Lego Club bullying X-man. They wouldn't let him talk when he was explaining his project. They made fun of what he created at show and tell time, and they were what MacTroll described as being rather "disruptive" to everyone. The Orpheum woman was very concerned that X-man wasn't going to come back because the college kids that were working the Club said that the kids made X-man cry. I asked if X-man had done anything to provoke the words. Was he keeping his hands to himself? Was he acting crazy because he was so excited? The woman said, "No." But my child was the only one that cried. Since this was what was happening at school and related to some of his anxieties, I took a deep breath and thanked her for letting me know. MacTroll hasn't told me he'd been crying at pick up. Apparently, the kids were still picking on him at the end of club to the point where X-man didn't even want to pick the few free Legos they get to pick out at the end of the class. He just put on his coat and wanted to go. MacTroll played with him in the museum for an extra half hour.

This morning when X-man and I were playing Legos in his room, he asked if those boys would be back today. I said, probably. The Orpheum lady had also called their parents to tell them if the bullying happened again they would not be welcome back to Lego Club. I told him they were on their last chance. So that if they picked on him again, he should use his words and tell them to stop because it's rude. And if they don't stop after asking to go tell the instructor.

I was at Target the other day looking at the new "Friends" Legos that were made supposedly for girls. The fact that the series has people who look like Polly Pockets wasn't lost on me. But over all they looked very babyish. More like toddler toys with tiny pieces. I mean, if it were me, I'd make a giant castle, a sports car, a treehouse, a science lab, a doctor's office, a school building, etc., and I would have left the regular Lego figures. I'm getting schooled in my classroom about the importance of pink to this generation of little people. So, you could make all those ideas in pink colors, since that will apparently sell like hot cakes. But really -- most of the sets I saw were -- stores for shopping.

I know that boys and girls don't often like the same thing, but how much of this is really innate and how much is just watching how other kids react because that's how they've been socialized? And why does it just take four months to undo all my good work?

1 comment:

The Fearless Freak said...

When I first saw the Lego Friends things, I was really appalled at it. From the online advertising I saw, it looked like they had removed the building element of Lego. I did see them in Target last week and it turns out they do require building. I still don't like the people in them and I'm not thrilled with focus on shopping. However, I do think that Lego needs to introduce some gender neutral sets, as opposed to the standard fare of Batman, Pirates, Indy, and Star Wars. I know a lot of people don't like him, but the Spongebob sets are a decent example of that. Although, Spongebob is a boy, his show is equally enjoyed by both genders and his playsets tend to be more appealing to girls than the more action based sets. BUT, I don't think they needs sets aimed directly at girls, just less aimed directly at boys.