Before I became a parent, I was sure that the parents were totally to blame if their kids ended up the stereotypical girl or boy. So, when I had kids of my own, I made a conscience effort to allow TRex to play with whatever he wanted, doll, car, pink, blue, whatever. Likewise, when my the Dancing Queen was born, it didn't matter to me if she played with dolls or cars, dinosaurs or bunny rabbits. My kids were going to be who they wanted without influence of stereotypes, at least to the extent practicable.
The thing is, about a year ago, I noticed that TRex and DQ will play with the exact same toys in completely different ways. TRex would take two cars and slam them together because they were fighting. DQ would take the same two cars ten minutes later and push them together, while making kissing noises. Where did this difference come from? I specifically played with the kids the same. These were the same toys. Both children were given the same number of kisses and hugs (well TRex has received more due to 17 extra months with us, but you get what I mean).
That was a year ago. In that time, I've noticed more boy things that TRex does and more girl things that DQ does. TRex pushes, bumps, and play fights all of the time. DQ kisses, dances, and loves purses. As DQ turned three, she has suddenly turned into a pretty girl. (BTW, party went great and DQ had a blast.) DQ now wants her clothes to match. She must wear pink. And her favorite gift was a baby doll. While TRex enjoys playing with the doll too, its not the same manner. And there is no way I can get him to dress up or care about matching anything. All I have to say to him is I have a dinosaur shirt and he is game. DQ wants butterflies on her shirts.
How is this possible?
I guess the only explanation is that there are differences between boys and girls or at least differences between my two children that happen to fall within the stereotypical descriptions of boy versus girl. No matter. None of it is bad. It is life. I have to support the decisions of my children. After all, I talked myself into buying the baby doll for DQ. My gut said she wanted it and my head screamed "You'll be turning her into a stereotypical girl! DON'T DO IT!!!!" My gut won and she loves dolly. The first thing she told me this morning was "Mommy, somebody is waiting downstairs for me in her bed. She needs her pacifier and stroller." (Later, she called me Ma as she strolled dolly around the house because she was Mommy, but that is a post of a different day.)
I can still raise an independent girl, with a strong self-worth, who does not think less of herself even if she is girly. And I can still raise a respectable boy, with a strong self-worth, who does not place himself above girls because he is a boy. Can't I?
I guess we will all have to learn to respect the differences in each of us, even if those differences fall into a stereotype.