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Dresses. They’re all good.

I feel like I owe everyone an update on school and dresses and my own state of self-inflicted insanity.

My oldest has worn dresses/skirts/tutus every single day to first grade, and big surprise – it’s a complete non-issue. Getting over that first day was a hurdle, y’all. But just for my partner and me. My kid wasn’t nervous or self-conscious at all. He’s thrived, clothing has been a non-issue, he doesn’t seem to have been twirling down hallways or distracted by his flowing clothing (which was a concern for us) and he hardly talks about it.

He pushes my buttons, that’s for sure. Occasionally he’s put together unbearable combinations of long skirt with a tutu over it and sparkly sweater vest over a tie-dyed t-shirt. Talk about looking like a drunk, homeless Dolly Parton rustling through a box of discarded Goodwill hand-me-downs. The couple of times this has happened and he asks me “can I wear this?” and I have the wherewithal to stop my eye roll and say, “Sure,” he changes and tones it all down. Even he knows it’s too much.

The first day of school there was no issue he wanted to share with us. The next morning I walked with him, hand-in-hand, and said, “Did anyone say you had a nice tutu?”

“One boy said in the bathroom, ‘Don’t call him a girl! Don’t call him a girl! He’s a boy who likes to wear dresses.’”

I bristled. I couldn’t glean the context and I immediately got defensive that this was a bad situation. But I asked, “How’d that make you feel?”

“Good. He was my friend.”

(Oh. Gavin: check your defenses. I need to tell myself that one hundred times/day.)

Apparently some kid might’ve said “boys can’t wear dresses,” at another time on day one, because my kid went on to say, “And another girl said, ‘don’t say that. Anyone can wear whatever they want.’”

“Wow,” I said. “I like that girl.”

“Me, too. She’s my new friend.”

Sigh.

Previous to the start of school, our son asked at bedtime, “Which bathroom do I use?”

I was not prepared for that, though I should’ve been. In first grade, my son will be on the school’s 3rd floor with gender-segregated bathrooms. I completely dodged that question because I had no real answer. But by day two of school, he’d solved his own problem.

One breakfast, he mischieviously (and elatedly) told me, “My teacher let me take the girls’ bathroom pass, today.”

“Oh. How did that happen?”

“I asked to go potty and she said, ‘do you want the boys’ pass or the girls’ pass?’ So I got the girls’ pass.”

We’re entering a whole new world.

On week two, our teacher requested a conference, “Not that anything is wrong. All’s been fine. I just to make sure we’re on the same page.”

During our teacher conference, the teacher basically asked, “Do you want me to correct your son when the class confuses pronouns? Because they basically think he’s a girl, right now.”

My partner and I looked at each other. This would’ve elicited an immediate negative response a year ago – probably from both of us. But this time, we shrugged.

Whaddyagonnado?

We talked about the bathroom issue and the teacher told me, “Your son has asserted what makes him feel comfortable and he asked to go to the kindergarten floor where the bathrooms aren’t segregated. In that bathroom, there’s one stall not marked for girls or boys. He uses that one.”

I started to cry.

This process is often frustrating. I’m sick of my son’s entire focus being sparkles, glitter, pink, Barbie, princess, twirly, tiaras. (But I’d be annoyed with that if I had a daughter, too. It’s just so all-consuming.)

But I’m relieved, grateful, proud and thrilled that my kiddo knows how to take care of himself and assert his desires and is grown up enough to say, “I’m just gonna be my awesome self and sold my own problems.”

That’s definitely what he’s doing – being his awesome self.

Phew.

See? I told you there was never anything to worry about.

(Eye roll.)

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Taking the Plunge

Well, here’s a lovely dilemma filed under “I never imagined having these conversations”:

My partner and I have decided we need to be the grown-ups and not be so fearful for our son. Gathering wisdom from innumerable sources, we think it’s best to let our little gender-nonconformist break the ice and wear some skirts to school.

My rationale comes from three arguments:

  1. What’s most important is he love himself and not feel his self-expression is anything shameful to be hidden.
  2. That he knows we always, always, always have his back and love him, unconditionally.
  3. There will be haters everywhere in life, no matter if he dresses in skirts or roots for the Yankees or has a funny walk. The sooner he knows issues 1&2 will help us all deal with the consequences of #3 and we can choose, together, how to address it all.

Also? We aren’t making history, here. Boys from Arkansas to Arizona are already going to school in dresses. We need to calm the F down.

But as we’ve done a bit of back-to-school shopping (yes, we don’t go back until Sept 7th, so we aren’t back in school, yet), I’ve found myself still trying to control the situation. And here’s the rub of this blog entry.

My son is preternaturally drawn to all things pink/sparkles/Barbie.

Now, it’s one thing for a boy to take a stand and rock a kilt with combat boots and an ironic “Brony” t-shirt*. But there’s nothing ironic about my son’s love for all things pink/sparkles/Barbie. He would wear a polyester pink princess dress to school, replete with chincy plastic princess kitten heels, if we let him.

But that’s where I gotta put my foot down.

“Buddy, I know a little something about style, even though you think all I wear is jeans and t-shirts. And, well, that’s true. But trust me – I know what’s cool, and I can help you look awesome rocking a dark skirt and ‘Brony’ t-shirt.”

He actually trusts me (for better or worse) in this approach.

I don’t know if he’s just humoring me and thrilled that we’ve relented (somewhat) with our blessing to wear skirts twice a week to school.

But it’s begun a discussion of what’s “cool” and “funky” in our household.

And, like the ever-wavering cliché Libra that I am, I immediately question my own judgment.

I don’t want my child to become a slave of what’s “cool” or “funky”.

But seriously – won’t life be easier if I guide him down the path of cultural taste, rather than leave him to dress himself like a bird adorning his nest with tinsel and sparkly trash? Or the crab in Moana?

Is it wrong to influence his fashion sense with strong suggestions (as in: I buy it, so I decide) of what he can and can’t wear?

The psychology of fashion is very interesting to me – not the slaves of trends and capitalistic consumerism, but really the psychology of dressing yourself to feel empowered and attractive with wardrobe that commands respect and admiration.

And who am I to say pink/sparkle/Barbie isn’t respectful or strong or admirable?

 

Anyway, I’ve created a monster – in myself. But for the moment, despite my seemingly debilitating insecurity in my own parenting decisions, herein, I feel fine guiding my son toward “rocking” a skirt, rather than “donning” a dress.

Because let’s face it ; life’s easier for the cool.

I hate myself for writing that.

Oh, and as for taking the plunge with skirts at school? Yeah. Here we go. Wish us luck. Any suggestions? Fashionista, emotional or otherwise? Indubitably, I’ll be reporting back.

* “Bros” who dig “My Little Pony”. Yes. It’s a thing.

Well…It Finally Happened

It finally happened. My son was publicly shamed for wearing a dress. And my fatherly instincts screamed with leonine ferocity inside my head, but the diplomacy of a damn Israeli-Palestinian negotiator without.

I took my kids to France, again, for a few weeks, this summer. I figured the cost of the trip was less than paying for 2 kids’ camp in New York City; plus, I used the last of my AmEx miles to pay for the flights.

Anyway.

My gender non-conforming son wore a dress every single day, except when he squeezed himself into his 4yo cousin’s pink bathing-suit-with-attached-tutu. And it was all fine. His new short haircut (see here) drew some double-takes, but, overall, it was fine.

Until one night toward the end of our trip.

I went to a restaurant with another dad and his son, and my kiddo was decked out in his Trolls “t-shirt-attached-to-flouncy-dress”. We were along the banks of a EuroDisney movie set replete with medieval castle backdrop and window boxes exploding with flowers.

My kid saw the quai (is there an English equivalent of “quai?”…or just the stone walkway along the river?) as a stage, so he began his fake tap-dancing.

My other son even played along as the conductor. It was cute.

Until two girls around 9 and 12 years old arrived.

They stared.

Then they started conferring with each other.

Then they started laughing overtly.

My son stopped dancing, and I could see his confidence wane as he insecurely tried to talk with them.

From my vantage point, 20 feet away, I think they asked his name and he tried to respond.

And the laughing continued.

My soul withered. But I found the opportunity to approach the group to chide my younger son for throwing too many rocks into the river. (Poor kid. I literally used him for criticism to find a way to protect his older brother.)

We spoke in English, then I asked my older son in French, “You OK?” and the girls right away turned to me asking in French:

“What are their names?”

I told them.

“And is that one a boy or a girl?”

I took a breath and said the first thing that came to mind: “Well, sometimes he feels like a boy, sometimes he feels like a girl.”

The younger girl pounced.

“Boys can’t wear dresses.”

“Why not?” I calmly countered. “Sometimes it just makes him feel good. Like you feel good in the dress you’re wearing.”

The older sister then chimed in, “Yeah, like girls get to wear boy clothes.”

The younger sister wasn’t having it. “But boys aren’t supposed to wear dresses.”

“Well, this one likes to, sometimes,” I responded.

Both girls contemplated this.

I looked back at my son. Despite my relief at having diffused the situation and starting a dialogue with these girls, my heart broke, again. I could see my son, normally exuberant and often annoyingly vivacious, sitting on the curb, his light extinguished. He’d crossed his legs and was doubled-up on himself and sat staring at the ground. He couldn’t exactly understand, and yet, he understood completely.

We’ve discussed his choices and potential reactions, and I’ve coached him in responding a hundred times. He knows his choices are “unconventional” and he knows to say, at the very least, “I’m a boy, I like dresses, what’s the big deal?”

But he doesn’t know how to say that in French, and til that moment (to my knowledge) he’d never faced overt mocking, before. Ever.

“You OK, buddy?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he responded.

Was he really? Was he, at the innocent age of five, already protecting his father from heartbreak? – so that I wouldn’t’ be able to use this as a teaching moment? Did he already want to avoid me having to say, “this is just what’s going to happen?” Was he already protecting my heart form his own heartbreak?

Or was he actually fine?

Listen, half-dozen readers, I assure you: he wasn’t fine. His body language was ten times more foreign than the language with which I was trying to imbue him during two weeks in France.

But I also know: it’s ok. It was a teachable moment, even if I didn’t get all lecture-y afterward. We let it go. He let it go. I let it go.

The younger sister did not let it go, though. She ran right into the restaurant and announced to her family “the little boy out there is wearing a dress!”

The family was already on their way out of the restaurant, and they avoided looking at me and (I think) avoided looking directly at my sons.

And even though I wanted to scream at the little girls (and their family), “MY SON MIGHT BE IN A DRESS BUT Y’ALL BRING SHAME TO THE FRENCH CULTURE BY…”

Aaaand that’s where I need to censor my judgment of this family that…well…didn’t embody the clichés of French sophistication.

I’d like to avoid total cyber disembowelment.

Suffice to say, that family had some superficial attributes worthy of public embarrassment beyond the merely tacky dresses those girls were pret-a-porting.

But nope.

I kept my mouth shut and tried not to over-think it.

Which is my other takeaway from all these situations and my “advice” to everyone around me – try not to over think it. He’s a little boy who likes to wear dresses. What’s the big deal?

Sigh.

I try to say that to myself every single day.

Inside the Mind of a Gender Creative Boy

May all of our kids be this self-aware and expressive when they are 10 years old.

Raising My Rainbow

I hear from a lot of adults raising gender expansive four and five year olds. The adults are typically stressed, confused, lonely and scared. I get it. I’ve been there. Ages four and five were the toughest for us in terms of parenting a gender expansive child. I tell families that it gets better once the child can communicate his/her thoughts and feelings. Like, now, with C.J. being 10 years old and getting ready to start fifth grade, if I have a question about him, I can ask him and he can answer. I asked C.J. what he remembers thinking and feeling when he was four and five years old and I wrote it all down. I’m hoping that sharing C.J.’s memories below might help families currently wondering and/or struggling. xoxo, Lori

(By: C.J., age 10, August 2017)

When I was two years old I kind of liked cars and…

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Hair Today, Mullet Tomorrow

The Before:

The After:

When I became a father, one of the battles I swore to myself I’d never wage was over hair.

A friend of mine's son made hideous teenage hair choices, but his mother once said to me, “My mother made such a big deal of my hair I swore I’d never do the same to my kids.”

I adopted that philosophy. My mom and I went round and round about my hair so very many times. She wanted me to remain the all-American Tom Sawyer with the neatest side part and feathery 1980’s ‘do. But when I hit junior high and discovered blow-dryers and MTV, I follicly rebelled. I wanted Johnny-Depp-21-Jumpstreet hair. That meant much fuller and longer than Mom’s Eisenhower-June-Cleaver standards tolerated. So we fought for years about my hair.

Yesterday, my 5yo had a bout with a pair of scissors and gave himself a haircut.

I’m still apoplectic about it.

Yes, I know self-inflicted hair disasters are a rite of passage for all children. As my partner said, “the only thing missing in this scenario is that tomorrow isn’t school picture day.”

But two things have sent me into a spiral of irrationality:

  1. My kid had gorgeous hair. He hadn’t gotten it cut since December and it had grown symmetrically and beautifully.
  2. I’m afraid it looks exactly the way he wants, but because it looks objectively hideous, I don’t know whether to traumatize him with a full “boy” cut, or let him continue his summer with the ugliest “girl-cut-with-bangs” imaginable. I mean – none of our summertime pictures will be useful for Christmas letters, this year. NONE.

Some background:

I know this situation is all about me. And as I frequently disclaim – this blog entry is my confessional so I can look back on my words, see what an asshole I’m being, and let it go. Hopefully my son isn’t reading these words and hating me, but rather just laughing at my own assholishness. Buddy: I love you, no matter any choice you make (short of killing someone or becoming a Republican). You’re perfect.

So.

No haircut since December. Why? Because of his penchant for all things princess, I once asked him, “Are you a girl, do you want to be a girl, or are you a boy who just likes to wear dresses?”

I admit I approached the question in a fit of frustration with his dress choice du jour, but when I got the words out, I just wanted to communicate honestly. And whatever answer was gonna be fine.

After some thought, he responded, “I want to be a girl.”

“Okay. That’s fine. Can I ask why?”

“Because they get to have long hair.”

“Oh. Well, boys can have long hair, too. Do you want to grow your hair long?”

“Uh-huh.”

So we didn’t cut his hair for seven months.

Until yesterday.

Over the past few months, he’d mentioned he wanted bangs. I was like – ah, hell no. No kid of mine is gonna have some pageboy weirdo framing that beautiful face. Nope. We goin’ for the full California swoop.

There I go – making hair decisions for my son.

Except, PEOPLE! – let’s be honest. He was on his way to exceptional hair. He didn’t need some medieval pageboy helmet surrounding his entire face…with bangs.

And then, yesterday, during what I should have realized was a particularly long amount of quiet time, he approaches me, nonchalantly, to ask for some goldfish.

I responded, “Uh, buddy, I think we’re gonna have dinnersoondearlordwhathaveyoudonewhathaveyoudonewhathaveyoudone?”

“He did it, too,” my son said, pointing to his little brother (who’s hair looked unscathed).

And there we have it.

My son now looks like a crop-banged skid row urchin crawling home from a CBGB party that went all kinds of wrong at around 3:47 AM.

And I don’t know whether or not to change it, because I think it’s exactly what he wanted – long hair in the back, bangs in the front.

The most childish thought I have, right now? – his long hair was helping him look less…um…questionable when I let him wear dresses in public. Now, if I have the barber chop it all off to start back at ground zero, I’m with my son who’s obviously a boy with short hair, but in a dress.

I know, I know, I know. I’m a monster. I’m saying it out loud, now, not so you’ll troll me, but so that I know I need to get over myself. Fear not. But these are my thoughts.

I’m making peace with the wonderful, colorful, eye-opening, beautiful journey my son traverses every day. I love him for all his femininity. And sometimes it’s hard. But it’s really just hard for me.

He’s fine with who he is and what he loves.

So I’m letting the hair go.

Except I can’t. Seriously, he looks like he got in a fight with a drunk chipmunk Edward Scissorhands.

I’ll let you know, later, where we settle. For now – I’m starting to laugh about this situation sooner than I thought possible.

Would love to hear your personal stories of when you cut your hair, yourself, cuz I know: it’s a rite of passage.

I cut mine when I was in 7th grade. Yep. Not when I was 5, but when I was 13. I wore a hat for weeks. But Mom wouldn’t let me get a “bowl cut” circa 1989. So….I did exactly as my 5yo son.

Mortifying.

Proud to be “Worst Daddy in the World”

“You’re the worst daddy in the world,” was stated, yesterday. Not the first time I’ve heard it. Thankfully, I haven’t heard it much (yet).

But as a friend reminded me, it probably means I’m doing my job.

Why’d I receive such 5yo vitriol?

Because on a rainy Saturday afternoon, after offering my sons to veg out in front of the TV, I made the stipulation they had to clean their room, first.

Now, listen: I’m no neat-freak. I don’t like dirtiness, but I don’t mind messiness. However, I won’t abide a bedroom that’s trashed with dress-up clothes, princess castles, Legos and monster trucks. I’m asking for the very lest, kiddo: shove your shit into the big toy baskets and clear the floor.

I’m not asking for hospital-tucked sheets, folded underwear drawers or toothbrush-scrubbed window tracks. Nope. Just clear the floor 80% and you earned your special TV time (no more than ½ an hour. Let’s not get crazy, people.)

So, on this Father’s Day 2017, I pledge to my son to earn top-billing as “worst-daddy-in-the-world” if it’s because of this:

  1. You will clean the messes you make. Don’t worry: I’ll help you. And I don’t expect you to render the house neater than when you found it, but you will do your part in replacing sofa cushions after asking to make a fort, throwing every article in your dress-up box to opposite ends of your room, leaving markers all over the main hallway, or abandoning you-name-it in the family room.
  2. You will eat your vegetables and you will take three bites of new foods before refusing to finish it – one to taste, one to experience, one to decide. Mealtime games are not for me. But also, I won’t fight a battle. No trying? No dessert. No veggies? No dessert. No drama. You choose your choice. You don’t have to eat. But there’s nothing else to eat, if you go on a hunger strike. And no matter how much your neighbor friend eats a diet of chicken nuggets, potato chips and macaroni for every dinner, I promise – your plate will never, ever look like that.
  3. You will read your assigned “beginning reader” books to me before I read your favorite stories to you…because you have to earn stories, now, big boy. And because it’s your job – to learn to read. So you do your work, and I’ll reward you.
  4. You will be dressed, fed, teeth-brushed and ready to walk out the door to school before you start playing with toys. You can even have a small hit of screen time if you’re good to go. But hell NO can you play or whine for screen time before you’re ready to walk out the door.

It’s all about earning your privileges…dessert, screen time, playtime, etc.

Unluckily for you, I’ve proven I’m even more stubborn than you for the past 5 years, and that’s not gonna change.

My job is not to be your friend. My job is to raise you to be a kind, strong, wise human being who makes the world a better place.

If that makes me the “worst daddy in the world”, I’ll wear the honor proudly.

Happy “Worst-Daddy-in-the-World” Day to me.

I love you, too, son.

Happy Father’s Day, Mom.

On Father’s Day, I’m reminded I’m the mom.

Not in the ignorant person asking, “Yeah, but which one of you is the mom?” way. That has a connotation of “which one of you is the girl?” I resent that. We aren’t that superficially categorized. But I guess the semantics need simplification. I’m confusing myself.

Lemme explain.

My partner is the one who knows how to “just be” with our kids. He’s the one unperturbed with sitting on the bedroom floor, letting them toddle about, babble, sing, and play. He’s agenda-less. He lets the kids come to him and welcomes them with open arms, hugs, tickles and tolerates their make-believe.

I’m the agenda-follower, vegetable-force-feeder, schedule-keeper, nighttime routine follower, iPad shunner, project-manipulator, muddy puddle-avoider, quiz-annoyer, list-checker, freaker-outer, frustration-succumber, unnecessary battle-seeker-outer, tear-causer.

But not him.

One of our favorite bedtime stories (Little Boycheck it out. It’s perfection), ends with the statement, “Little Boy, you remind me how so much depends on days made of now.”

And my partner lives that. He’s able to be in the “now”, let our boys come to him, tickle for hours (well…twenty minutes), and let them derail my perfectly-laid plans.

I’m on a schedule: bath, books, bed. (In my defense, I’ve had the kids all day and I’m done screwing around.)

But he screws all that up with his giggle fests interrupting my reading time.

And it is good.

As a gay dad (who’s unexpectedly the stay-at-home parent), I resent the societal assumption that dads are the ones who deserve slack because we’re all thumbs in changing diapers or managing a household or being excellent primary care-givers. It angers me if someone smirks at me with my toddler tornado in a coffee shop and says, “Mommy’s day off?”

(Although I’ve been known to smile when anyone on the street ooh’s and ahh’s at “that cute dad who’s giving Mommy a break” when I’m managing two toddlers perilously zooming down the sidewalk on scooters. Call me a hypocrite.)

But I know we all rise to the occasion of effective parenting, regardless our gender or societal/familial roles. It’s ridiculous to say men can’t change diapers or make baby food or be the rule enforcer…no more than someone could tell my mom she couldn’t take me camping or play baseball with me. (She did all that…probably because after my father died when I was eight, she did her utmost to take on qualities of both “mom” and “dad”.)

What if parental labels were genderless and more task-based? The default primary care-giver is mom, the one who gets to “swoop-in-and-tickle-and-be-fun-and-ruin-all-the-rhythm” is dad?

My context is doing everything. So I’m the afore-listed task-master whose label would “normally” be mom. I’m a dad who’s really good at being a mom.

And my partner is really good at being dad. (Sometimes he jokes he’s the gay uncle who gets to have even more fun and less responsibility. I find this not even remotely funny.)

But he is particularly good at being in the Little Boy moments made of now.

And that is so very important.

Because I’m intense.

Not long ago, my partner had a very uncharacteristic free day. I took one of our sons to a doctor appointment and, after the appointment, I texted an update. He responded, “Great. Take your time coming home.”

Wait, what? I could take the afternoon to have a cookie with only one child? Meander down New York sidewalks with only one child?

Have a coffee and a cake pop with only one child?

We didn’t hurry. I didn’t pull the one kid, praying there’d be no melt-downs or peed-pants or tardiness to the next wherever-we-needed-to-be.

We were in the “now”, for once.

Thanks, partner. I needed that.

Happy Father’s Day to us.

I’m not Racist, but…

A few months ago, after my four thousandth reading of Pinkalicious, I closed the book, and thought, “Man. If I were an African-American father I would be disgusted by our book selection.”

Pinkalicious. Vanilla Icing Icing Baby.

Fancy Nancy. Frilly whitey.

Biscuit Goes to the Farm (or does whatever). Yellow lab, white identity.

Curious George. A monkey living in a white world. Ergo: white monkey.

Hungry Little Caterpillar – a little white boy with an eating disorder.

Clifford. Big red dog, little white girl.

Where the Wild Things Are. White monsters.

Dr. Seuss One fish, two fish, white kid, white kid.

Goodnight Moon. Little white bunny and his old white granny whispering “hush”

Harry Potter Even the “dark arts” wizards are white. (Thank goodness. Because awkward.)

Lego’s are all white people, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake couldn’t possibly be whiter. Sofia the First has a white character…once every 8 episodes when they’re running out of story lines for princess entitlement. And let’s not even touch the main Disney princesses (pre-Tiana, I suppose).

(Alright, alright – you get Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day. Congratulations. One color-blind book with a protagonist of color.)

Etc. etc. etc. whitecetera.

Not one week after my racial realization, I learned of a conversation going on at my son’s school’s PTA regarding diversity. A super-academic committee discussed diversity with NYU sociology professors and posed the question: when did you last read a book with a protagonist of color when that protagonist wasn’t 1) overcoming racial adversity, 2) a slave story.

When did you read a book about a kid who’s going about everyday activities and just happens to be non-WASP?

(Not that I need to pat myself on the back, but…I had this realization before hearing of the PTA discussion. Just saying. I’m color blind. Was. Wait. That wasn’t a good thing.)

So, now our PTA is tasking the school with constructive steps toward literary diversity…expanding our library with books where diversity is a non-issue.

When certain (white) Americans dispute that “the system” is set up against children of color, I invite anyone to look through the vast majority of children’s books, including mine.
Imagine being a little black boy or black girl in America and be surrounded by the super popular books (see above) and never seeing themselves reflected. Ever.

You think that wouldn’t set you up for inferiority complexes or a sense of never being able to relate to popular culture?

I’m not sure what the solution is. Could publishing companies publish alternative illustrated books? White not an African American-centric Cat in the Hat? An Asian Pinkalicious? A gender non-conforming Fancy Nancy(Nathan?)

I’m sure this doesn’t make financial sense for the literary corporations just selling books.

But perhaps it would make financial sense?

OMG, are they already doing this and I live so deep in my white bubble that I’m not even aware?

Welp. There’s my confession du jour. Let the twitter trolling commence. (I won’t even see it. I barely know how to tweet.)

 

 

Is Love for Sparkles Genetic?

Where does our draw to sparkly things come from?
OMG. I can’t let that sentence stand…but “from whence does our draw to sparkles originate?” sounds ridiculous.
Anyway. Why do we like sparkles? Is there prehistoric programming within us to collect sparkly things because sparkly things can be used as…currency? Or status- like the crab in Moana?
Perhaps is purely aesthetics?…Zeus and Gaia and their ilk thought, “I should give these pathetic humans something nice to look at since life is so nasty, brutish and short. I know! I’ll endow  ‘em with taste!”
Back in the day, did Neanderthals attracted to rainbows steer their tribes from danger? Or did they lead them straight into certain death on quixotic rainbow hunts…but have a fabulous road trip on their way to starvation?
Did little girl cro-magnons (and boy cro-magnons, Gavin…don’t forget the topic of which you’re writing) decorate their animal pelts with daisies in the springtime?
There was definitely an appreciation for art…just look at the Lascaux paintings in France. But were they also indulging an appreciation for “beauty” in their expression? Were those painters also the chefs/designers/dancers of their tribes?
Did aesthetic fabulosity go hand-in-hand: cave drawings, daisy accessorizing and shiny/sparkly things? Or are we drawn to sparkly sequins because Mother Culture tells us to consume them? Did the invention of the disco ball tap into our base caveman attractions or was it just commercialism?
I’m a Libra, and almost all astrology says I have an “appreciation for beauty.” (And yes – my sparkle-obsessed son is a Libra, as well…born three days after my birthday.)
And if astrology is to be believed…is attraction to all things sparkly written in our stars?
Is it in our genetic profile?
Are we victims of marketing and consumerism?
Regardless, my little boy wants as much sparkle in his life as possible. And why not, eh? Doesn’t it make life better?

What Came First: the Princess or the Girl?

It’s not just that my son loves Disney princesses. He loves the entire kit ‘n caboodle of what society would label (unfairly) “girly” stuff.
Purple lollipops. (Not just any lollipop.)
Sparkly tutus
Barbie pink dream cars
Cotton candy
Fancy Nancy
Glitter this
Sequined that

Pinkalicious
Pink everything
Purple everything

It comes as a package. Walking down the street, he’s got a focused attention to detail that’s both annoying and astounding. He loves all dogs, but seeing a King Charles Spaniel is all the cuter. (And it’s TRUE! King Charles Spaniels are cuter…than labs or regular spaniels or golden doodles.)

It’s a fascinating cliché. Listen, I don’t want to put anyone in boxes. And it drives me crazy when people make assumptions about any of my tastes (even if they’re right.) So I try to accept that a girl can be equally inspired by Lego’s as by Elena of Avalor. (Oh, you haven’t heard of Elena? You’re missing out on Disney’s cornering of the Latina market.) And I think boys could choose a red crayon just as easily as wanting to hog all the blue Legos.

But my wonderful son in all his gender non-conformity is 100% on the predictable path of all things “girl”.

So I wonder: does he like all things sparkly/princessy because he loves those things, or because he already knows they’re “girly” and that’s what he likes?

How can so many little princess girls (and boys) be so consistent along the lines of their consumer tastes? Is it a genetic attraction to sparkles and pink, or is it cultural programming at a young age?

What came first? Princess or girl? Is it nature or nurture?

I don’t think my son’s yet influenced by his surroundings or peers. He knows that some kids say “boys shouldn’t like princesses” but he shrugs and keeps loving princesses. I’m proud of that. (Disclaimer – I LOVE that my son knows what he likes. And when I show a little annoyance that he’s so princess all the time, he’s quick to smack me down. “Daddy! I like princess! Stop telling me what to like!” Good for him. Proud papa.)

Another disclaimer – I was exactly the same way, as a kid. I wanted to love all things “girl”. How did I know? Hell. I don’t think there was an explanation. The time my dad asked me, “Why do you have to like red? Can’t you like blue?” And I responded (in the sassy way I hear from my son ALL THE TIME, now), “Fine. I’ll just like pink, instead,” because I KNEW that would piss him off to no end.

But why did I like red? (And everything Strawberry Shortcake – the original, thankyouverymuch – and Princess Leia and Barbie, etc., although I hid this attraction by kindergarten. I was far less secure than my own kid. Yay, son!)

Nowadays, I’ll flip through Netflix “suggestions” and my son will choose anything with a pink fairy/cheerleader/girly icon, even when he has zero idea what it’s about. But does he want the sparkles? Or is it cuz it’s “girly”?

It seems to me there’s a universal attraction to sparkles/pink/twirly things. But some kids diversify their interests with pink and dragons and skateboards and Sofia the First.

But not my kid. He’s full-out. And it seems to me that the gender-non-conforming boys I’ve read about and known are all full-out.

So what causes that? Their deep attractions? Or that they know they’re bucking convention and that makes them go so full-out? The same goes for boys who are 100% driven to Legos/dinosaurs/star wars/breaking stuff. 

Is there a Kinsey scale of aesthetic taste?

What do you think? Why is it so often so full out?