Category Archives: O

Not that gender neutral nonsense again.

Gender neutral parenting. It’s a big buzz word these days. Parents who want to give their children the freedom to explore gender constructs on their own terms and without shame. Shocking!

It gets a bad rap sometimes. It seems a great number of parents are perfectly  happy telling their sons that pink, and dolls are for girls, and teaching their daughters that firefighting costumes, and trucks are for boys. I can’t blame them exactly, consciously counteracting the prevailing social norms is exhausting, and confusing, and often leads to alcohol consumption to combat the never-ending feelings of frustration with the world. Walk into any major toy store (and even an independent one) and you’ll be assaulted with the “toy section” and the “pink section.” It’s nearly impossible (nearly? It might BE impossible) to avoid the influence that gender stereotypes have on our children.

I’m gonna wade in with two of my own experiences, one that’s cute and satisfies me perversely, and the other that makes my little feminist heart sing.

Kidlet wears a ponytail. For the last month or so, nearly every morning he says, “Mama, put mah hair in ponytail!” We sit down on the floor together while I comb his hair, and he holds the rubber band. Then he spends the rest of the day checking to make sure it’s still there. Apparently ponytails are the major gender indicator for toddlers, as everywhere we go, people refer to him as “she.” He’s often dressed in clothes from the boy section, though I try very consciously to not buy him clothes that have construction equipment or sports motifs on it, and I know he has a penis, so to ME he looks like a boy. But I guess because of the ponytail, people assume he’s a girl. I’m cool with that. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But, HOOO WHEEE does it bother other people. I don’t bother to correct people unless I’m asked a direct question like, “How old is she?” then I’ll reply, “He’s…” Here it is – boys don’t have to have short hair, and girls don’t have to have long hair. It’s really that simple. So, my piece of performing masculinity subversion, acted out through my son. Yeah, yeah, I’m using my kid to further my own agenda. Know what? I’m ok with it.

The second piece is significantly more important to me. This toy is pretty popular in our house these days:

Kidlet calls this toy his FIREFIGHTER. YES!!! A thousand yesses! Instead of calling it a fireman, my kid has picked up on the efforts of his dad and I to speak in gender neutral terms whenever we are given the opportunity and now speaks in them too! I love this. This is so important to me because so many professions represented to children are represented as male, which winds up creating a subliminal understanding that boys have certain opportunities that girls don’t. I think the language we choose to speak in, with it’s ageist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and violent  roots teaches our children VOLUMES more than we think it does. So, to hear his little 2year old mouth speaking to me in gender neutral terms…well, it just makes my day.

How do you support your children in their gender exploration?

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Filed under culture, feminism, O, parenting

Summon up the courage to put down your landing gear, and come out here

I listened to this dozens of times September 9th and 10th in 2009 whilst laboring. Ani wrote this song while laboring at home over 40+ hours during the birth of her daughter, Petah.

Hey little bag of sugar floating in your biosphere
Summon the courage to put down your landing gear
And come out here

‘Cause I am as exhausted as a drowning polar bear
Swimming around, looking for a ride
And it’s so god awful hot outside

Quiet kicking me in the rib every time Adam tells what he did
Man creates woman, he says
Sweeping his hand through the air like mister show biz

And you’re gonna love this world if it’s the last thing I do
The whole extravagant joke topped in bitter sweet chocolate goo
For someone who ain’t even here yet look how much the world loves you
Look how much the world loves you

The candles are burning down, the music is fading
Your piñata is torn, it’s time to be born
And death is at the door peddling that old fashioned blood and gore
Here at the house of creation, cue the sobering moment of revelation

You’re gonna love this world if it’s the last thing I do
The whole extravagant joke topped in bitter sweet chocolate goo
For someone who ain’t even here yet look how much the world loves you
Look how much the world loves you.

Tomorrow O turns 2. (Well, actually at 2:43 in the morning.) I’ve got birth on my mind.

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Parenting is really one big surprise, isn’t it?

I had a moment (if we’re being honest, it might have been a few moments) of intense sadness for kidlet yesterday when I found out that his two best friends at daycare are leaving. TWO. In the same one month period.

The friends that he talks about CONSTANTLY. The friends that he makes up little stories about in the car. The friends that he’s spent the last year of his short life getting to know, and love. And it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever to watch 3 little boys give each other a hug at the end of a day.

When I picked kidlet up from daycare yesterday afternoon the daycare providers said, “Friend, do you want to give kidlet a hug bye-bye?” and he walked over and hugged kidlet. And I said to kidlet, “Say, “See you tomorrow!” And the providers said, “Noo, this is friend’s last day.” And I kinda sat there stunned. Which only got worse when they said, “Oh, Friend 2 is leaving in September, too.”

People, I actually shed a tear. He’s attached to these friends. He wakes up in the morning and looks forward to seeing them. I know he will adapt to them being gone; but will he miss them? Will he be confused that they’re no longer there? My heart broke a little in anticipation of my son’s first noticeable loss.

This wasn’t something that I had even considered when I thought about what parenting would entail. Sleepless nights, fevers, choosing pre-schools…all of that I understood would happen. It never crossed my mind that I would feel sad about a change at daycare. (Let’s just get it out there – it’s possible I’m projecting, and being a little co-dependent. I admit it. Still feeling it though.)

The families of the other two boys have been friends for a while, and I’ve heard about their time spent together with a bit of envy, “Gosh, I wish *I* could break into that circle, too.” And we’ve said to each other, “We should really get together for play dates!” and then it’s never happened. (I’m terrible about making plans with people I don’t know well. What if we don’t like to do the same things? What if they’re busy with the rest of their friends and lives? As an aside, why do I always assume that other people have more interesting lives than we do?)

So here’s my opportunity. New friends for me, maybe, and continued friendship for kidlet.

Also – my kid will be 2 YEARS OLD in a month. How did that escape me until approximately a week ago???

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Filed under life balance, O, parenting

Conversation with my father

My dad and I talk infrequently on the phone. Maybe once a month, sometimes even less often. He called this weekend and we talked about life, and nursing toddlers. It went something like this;

Me: I’m thinking about weaning O.
Him: Really? I’m surprised. I figured you’d let him wean organically when he was ready. You know, ’cause you’re kind of ‘earthy’ that way.
Me: Yeah, I know, but I’d sorta like my nights back. But I’m really excited to hear you say that you’re surprised that I’m thinking of weaning. A lot of people are surprised that I’m still nursing him. Plus, some people are weirded out that I’m nursing a toddler.
Him: Yeah, well, some people are fucking stupid.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my dad rocks.

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Filed under breastfeeding, funny stuff, O