A is three years old. Almost four. She’s strong. She’s passionate. She’s opinionated. She knows what she likes. She makes her own choices. There is not a lot we can do to steer her away from what she chooses. Not that we would want to. She makes eclectic choices and amazes us when something obscure becomes her favourite. She is passionate and loyal to what she chooses and does not forget something she once loved. I sometimes wonder why she makes the decisions she does.
Obviously, as a baby, we chose her clothes, where she went and what she ate. We dressed her in babygros emblazoned with KISS, Metallica or Misfits insignia. She ate potatoes in Shepards Pie and spent her days wandering around parks with us.
But now she’s growing up and her strong character is taking shape. She still adores her KISS t-shirt but wants it paired with a denim skirt and a funky pair of tights. She devours pepperoni and has fallen in love with meatballs but is still insistant on eating grapes every single day. When asked where would you like to go, she always chooses the coffee shop and orders a hot chocolate. She would choose a set of hot wheel cars or lego mini figures over dolls any day but she will always want to paint her finger nails only to pick it all off five minutes later. She will beg to wear her new sparkley silver high tops going to preschool but will always wear her black dainty shoes she calls her “ballerina shoes” when greeting Papa Bear at the gates when he comes home from work. She will choose to watch Scooby Doo and Kiss over Frozen any day (although we’ve all been through Elsa and Anna on repeat at some stage). Of course she knows all the words to every song from Frozen but she also can sing Doll on a Music Box from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and do the actions too. She will beg us to put 70s or 80s music on the TV so she can dance with Michael Jackson or Kylie Minogue, and KISS is on repeat on our car stereo, for her, more so than Papa Bear. And yet she will revel in learning new songs in preschool about ants and dinosaurs and caterpillars.
Her choices often surprise me because she goes against convention. She will say her favourite colour is pink but never choose anything pink. She will say that she loves to play with her dolls but rarely play with them. She will say quite a lot, possibly because she thinks it’s what we want to hear but she will not feel obliged to see these thoughts out. She feels no pressure to be a certain way or make certain choices. She sees no judgment in choosing boys clothes or toys over those aimed at her gender. She will not be swayed, as I say, once she makes her mind up.
Social Conventions – The Gender Divide
She is not a girls girl but she is not a Tom boy either. She simply chooses what she likes without thinking twice about social conventions that will push her towards a certain style for the rest of her life. So, she was born a girl but even at the age of three, its obvious (and I hope it stays this way) that she will not let that steer her towards choices deemed for women and women alone.
There are many times when I look at her and see what she is drawn to and want to applaud her for choosing rather than be sold an idea. And then I think, no, she should not be applauded for this. It should not be an issue. It shouldn’t be a case of one aisle in the toy store for girls and the other for boys. Pink should not be aimed at girls and blue at boys. Superheroes should be universal and not be put parallel with My Little Pony because that is what girls are supposed to like. His world and her world should not be divided in a way that boys and girls think they can only choose from one side.
But alas that is the way it is. And yet, we are offended by the choices made by stores who make the gender divide apparent. We applaud those who are attempting to break it down but let me tell you, from what I have learnt, give your child freedom. Let them make choices that sit well with them. Give them the freedom to explore and become the person they want to be. So A might be three verging on four, but she has an opinion. She knows what she wants, what she likes. She is given the choice to be the person she wants to be and this allows her personality to grow. It allows her to feel confident that no matter what her choices are, they are right for her.
She may be young. She may not know the world yet. But she knows her own mind. And boy does she make some amazing choices. Whether they are pink or blue, they are her choices.