In Spite of Us

Earlier today, I read this blog post about the current controversy surrounding girly Legos. When I read the concerns some parents are expressing, I heard an echo from the distant past and had to wrinkle my nose a little at the remembrance of my high-and-mighty pre-mommy self…the woman who had many theories but no practical information on how this whole parenting thing was about to go down. In my pre-mommy theoretical mind, I used to fantasize that any children who entered MY house would have a gender neutral experience…that girls would play with trucks and boys would play with dolls. I had many self-righteous “My child will NEVER _______ !” thoughts and plenty far-from-reality visions of how things will ultimately work out.

In my pre-mommy mind, I surmised that me and my artist/musician/metrosexual hubby would surely produce sensitive, artsy, calm, dancing children who would spend their days zenfully contemplating life and sensitively caring for others. Boy or girl, I imagined my offspring would be comfortable playing against type and mixing it up with the opposite gender. Imagine my surprise when–in fact–we ended up with a couple of potty-mouthed, wrestling, “Where-the-Wild-Things-Are” frat boys.

Almost seven years into this little experiment called parenthood, I have come to realize that the actual truth about who kids become is this: they are who they are, they like what they like in spite of us. There are girls who love girly things, boys who love boyish things, girls who love boyish things and boys who love girly things. All of that wishing that everything would be gender neutral was a bit unrealistic and naive. Some girls (and boys) just like girly things. Some boys (and girls) like boyish things. There isn’t really a darn thing all the gender-neutral thinking in the world can do about it.

With regard to this particular issue, here is the truth that I have come to understand: it’s not my job to make things neutral or to mold my kids into some preconceived fantasy of what imagined they’d become. It’s my job to DISCOVER who they are and to love them accordingly. It’s my job to make sure they always feel loved and accepted–even when they surprise me. It’s my job to help them understand that lasting happiness can never be achieved by pretending to be something you are not and that life is too short to waste time wishing that folks will be any different than they are. It’s my job to model what it’s like to be open and accepting of all different kinds of folks. Hopefully this will help my rambunctious ruffians to be open and accepting too…even if they grow up to be pirates.

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