When I was pregnant, I decided that if my baby was a girl the word 'Princess' would never be stitched onto a single piece of her clothing.
There would be nothing sparkly, shimmery or glossy decorating her face, hair or body for as long as I could help it and she would never know the likes of that dreadful Barbie.
I vowed too that if my baby was a boy he wouldn’t possess a toy weapon of any kind. He could dress in any hue he fancied, including the “girl colors,” as the elementary school set refers to all pinks and purples and certain shades of blue. He would know that the world is full of more than just heroes and villains.
Mind you, it's not that I intended to deny my children their heart's desires just because they weren't the same as mine. I just was certain that my child would never fall prey to silly gender influences. My child would march to the beat of his or her own drum.
Seven years later, I look around my son’s room and marvel at his collection of weaponry-swords made of foam, plastic and paper towel tubes, pool noodles reconstructed to become lightsabers, water guns, nerf blasters and a bow and arrow set rigged from twigs. I notice his T-shirts hanging in his closet-clusters of reds, blacks, bues, whites and grays. I see the Indiana Jones book next to his bed and the Star Wars poster hanging on his wall.
There is no mistaking it, I had a boy. My son marches to the same drummer that plays for a great majority of the boys in our community.
I know that if he had been a girl, I would likely look around her room and marvel at how many different shades of pink there were how many different blond princesses were in need of new dresses.
I meant well and I know so many other parents that meant well too. It seemed, however, that there is no stopping the gender divide. It creeps in earlier than we ever imagined and claims our children.
I wonder, when parents make conscious choices and strive to raise their children in a gender neutral environment, how do boys still learn to be boys and girls still learn to be girls?