Missy has started taking ballet classes. Let me be clear; we are not talking Swan Lake. When 3 year-olds “take ballet classes”, it actually means: “run around flapping arms”. It’s the human version of watching a flock of geese trying to take off, or like trying to make 10 cats march in a straight line. Still, Missy, after her obligatory need to take the first couple of lessons standing fixed on the one spot and letting the class go on around her, seems to enjoy it. Of course, being a real ‘girly’ girl, the tutu is a massive hit, and often has to stay on well after class is over.
So have we “genderized” our daughter? And is “genderize” a real word?
The short answer is no to both. So, if you’re after the short answer, stop reading now.
For those who read on, (both of you), the long answer is it is my experience that boys and girls simply like to do, and want to do, different things. Certainly not all the time, but quite frankly, boys and girls are different. That’s not to say boys don’t ever want to play with dolls, and some girls may want to be cage fighters when they grow up, so sure, children should be free to express themselves.
But contrary to the “non-gender defining” crowd, I think if a little girl wants to dress in pink and pretend to be a princess, or a boy wants to wear a t-shirt with a monster truck on it, (and vice-a-versa), they should be free to do so. “Non-genderizing” a child, is in itself inflicting a label on them.
The boys we know, well at least those of Missy’s age, have a simple outlook on life. They want to find out how things work – and then break them. They love trucks and diggers; they wake up in the morning, and set their speedometer to “full steam ahead”.
Missy and her little girlfriends like to be girls. She likes to make pretend tea, sit her fluffy toys in a circle, and tell them off. She likes to dress up as a princess and wave her wand about. Girls are different to boys, not better or worse, just different.
The world we seem to live in has gone politically correct mad – a schoolteacher recently told me that in some schools; teachers cannot tell children they are wrong. Apparently, it might damage them. They are “on track to being right” when they get a maths question wrong…umm, I mean, less correct than they could have been.
Everyone has to win a prize at the school sports carnival lest any self-esteem is damaged. You know, just like the real world.
I certainly am not advocating 3 year olds be sat down and given the harsh realities of life, but seriously, wrapping children in cotton wool, in my opinion, may merely create a race of over protected people who can’t deal with setbacks. Not to mention all the money they will need later in life for therapy.
I prefer to teach Missy that coming 5th in the running race is an opportunity to try harder, and if she is not so sporty, and 5th is her best, then good on her for trying. I don’t want to pretend she came 1st. There will always be some things she has a talent for, and some things she does not.
So for me, my wondrous little princess is a real girly girl, and I love her. If she wanted to dress up like a Marine, I would still love her. If she gets married and has children one day, I will love her. If she decides she is gay, I will love her. If she becomes a doctor or a burger flipper. Yep, you guessed it; I will love her.
Being a parent is a daunting task, but in the end, maybe it does just boil down to acceptance and Love.