In a world where gender neutral has become such a battle, it baffles me that I had to comfort my son one day because he was made fun of at school for watching a show that, I suppose, is usually intended for more of a “girl” audience.
At the time, he was in kindergarten. When I picked him up from school, I noticed something was up. He’s usually jolly and tells me all about his day the minute he gets into the car. I asked him some questions that I knew would give me insight into what happened. He finally told me that some of his friends had made fun of him because during class. He had drawn a picture of one of the characters from a television show during free time. He told me his intention was to draw it for his sister (who, at the time, was 2). It was her favorite show. And he loves to draw.
Since I make them share TV time, if he wants to watch something during her time, he has to watch what she wants. So, he would watch My Little Pony/Peppa Pig/Sofia the First, etc. with her. In my mind, it showed how sweet, patient and loving he was. He endured watching the ten minutes that her attention span would last to watch a show. He ended up liking the show and would request to watch it. I never saw a problem with it, so I allowed it. We were at a store one day and he saw a Rainbow Dash plush toy–he asked for it, we bought it. No big deal, right? That’s what I thought.
I never saw any harm in allowing my son to take part and share in different types of shows. Growing up, my brother would watch Sound of Music with my sister and me. He’d sing with us and have a great time. I think that’s part of what has made him into a great father today, because of how well rounded we made him–ha! (he’s a great father and husband for many other reasons as well, but we’ll take the credit on that one…thank you very much!)
Joking aside, I really took an issue with this. I consoled him and reminded him that not everyone is going to be as open to watching certain things, and we are all different and have different viewpoints. But I hated that I had to explain this to my 5-year-old. His feelings were so hurt.
It continued to happen at school. He would tell me, and we’d talk about how to reply to his friends. In all of this, some magic started to happen. I saw the confidence he portrayed when he finally started standing up to the other boys that were making fun of him. Then, a few of them even started watching the shows at their own house. It warmed my heart when one of their moms sent me a text saying her son had asked to watch My Little Pony/Palace Pets/Sofia the First. It’s as if his friend was saying, I stand by you!
Among the other “girly” things he does include playing with his sister in her toy kitchen, plays house, dolls, and all kinds of other “girly” activities. And I’m never going to stop it.
I also hope this shows my daughter that we don’t care if something is meant for a boy or a girl. She can do what she wants, be who she wants to be and play with whatever she wants to play. Right now, she’s obsessed with Paw Patrol, have I stopped it? NO. I let her do her thing.
One more thing, before you get all up in arms about how kids shouldn’t watch that much TV yadda, yadda, yadda–I KNOW. And they don’t. They have plenty of activities they’re involved in, and have lots of outdoor time as well. Sometimes, kids just want to relax and watch some TV, and that’s fine with me.
I hate that he now knows boundaries and distinguishes between what’s for a girl and what’s for a boy–all because of this incident. But, I do love that no matter what gender specific toy/movie/show/game his sister wants to play–roles do not matter to him. And THAT’S what matters most.