Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fabulous Tomboys and Boys with Jazz Hands

This post first appeared on The Mommy Ref last week.  Enjoy.

When The Mommy Ref asked me to do a guest post for her blog, I was thrilled. 

You see, I may or may not have encouraged her to get into this whole crazy blogging thing as direct punishment for the fact that she's always asking my advice about parenting.

She can blame me.

I have kids that are older than hers, I have both boys and girls, and our children have more similarities than differences when it comes to personality issues.  Most of the time when she shares her frustration about whatever is going on, I can tell her that I've been in that place, almost exactly. 

I like to believe that I've talked her away from the mommy ledge a few times, and I know that I can tell her about all the stuff going on in my life without worrying about it ever going further than that.

We aren't just fellow bloggers, we're friends.  True friends.  The kind who know way too much about each other. 

So, when she asked me to do this, I said yes immediately. 

We tried to come up with a topic that would go along with her blog theme, and that was something I haven't really written about before, so here goes.

Gender Bending in The DeBie Hive

Sometime in this past week, The Mommy Ref mentioned something to me about a parent in her daughter's dance class commenting on how she put her daughter in dance because she didn't want her playing sports.  It stuck with me, even though I wasn't even there when it was said.

It stuck with me because we have always encouraged our kids to try activities that they are interested in, with no regard to whether something is a "boy" activity or a "girl" activity.  We just don't deal with gender boundaries here at all, we push them.  Test the limits.  Challenge what people expect.  Allow our kids to be who they already are without question or judgment.

When I was pregnant with our second, we bought our oldest, a boy, a baby doll.  He loved that doll and carried it everywhere.  He has lots of big brother miles on him these days, and has always been loving and understanding around babies.  I think he gets almost as excited as I do around newborns.

That boy, the oldest, is not my athlete.  He played soccer for a few seasons, but didn't love it.  He played baseball for a few years too.  Through just the luck of the draw, he needed surgery two years in a row.  His baseball career ended. 

Since then, he's tried swimming and basketball.  We just signed him up for wrestling.  He hasn't found a single sport that he loves, and that's okay.  He loves to play, he loves to try new things, and he doesn't care if he is good or not.  He's a fan of sports, he loves to learn the intricate rules of them all.  He just is a better spectator than player.  And that is okay.

What he is great at?  Art.  Music.  Anything creative. 

He loves to make, to envision, to build.  He wants to get more active in the drama club at school, and I could easily see him doing musical theater by high school.  I'm sure he'll be designing the sets too.  The kid has a wicked pair of jazz hands and can kick anyone's ass on Just Dance. 

He invented a cartoon character named Pinki.  As you can probably guess, Pinki is pink.

Does that make him less "boyish"? 

Hell no.  I happen to think it makes him awesome.

My eldest daughter, the opposite.  She's a tomboy, has been since birth...but she's a fabulous tomboy.  She's always been my jock, she's always had the highest energy level, she's always cared the least about what the other little girls were doing. 

She'd rather kick the ball around than go shopping any day.  She's the reason we have rules about playing soccer in the house.  She's the one who got a USWNT jersey for Christmas and squealed as much as her younger sister did when she got a box of makeup. 

She plays hard, she takes on the boys, she throws elbows.  She broke her foot in a soccer game against the boys last year, and was back out on the grass with her ball as soon as the cast was dry.  She broke one of her casts completely.  She never stops moving. 

She's played soccer since she was three, she's done figure skating and tennis and swimming and basketball.  She desperately wants to play volleyball, but the seasons overlap with soccer.  Oh, and that soccer thing?  She's been on a traveling team for two years. We all eat, sleep and breathe soccer around here.  I knew she loved it when she took a ball to the face in the box and stopped it.  I'd love nothing more than for her to find the confidence to get back in at keeper.

She's also my matchy-matchy girl.  She insists on careful wardrobe selection.  She adores headbands with giant flowers and bows.  She loves sparkly things, but she won't hesitate to drop it all and lace up her cleats if someone wants to play.

Her legs are covered in scars and bruises and bumps and blisters, they are the evidence of how hard she plays.  She asked for, and got a skateboard for Christmas. Does that make her less "girly"?  

Hell no.  I happen to think it makes her awesome.

My other daughter, the younger one, probably falls more within the boundaries of a typical girl most of the time, at least to the casual observer.  She loves music, loves fashion (though she refuses anything that matches), she is already boy crazy.  What she also is, though, is tough.  She plays almost entirely with boys, she can't stand girl drama already, and she could wrestle her brother to the ground by the time she was 18 months old.  She hates to color and loves to fight.

She can do anything he can do, better.  She plays soccer like her big sis.

She stands up for what she believes in, won't let anyone push her around, and already got sent to the office for punching a male bully in the face.  She's her mama's girl, and she's pretty badass.  She might look girly from the outside, but she's feisty.

Does her unwillingness to put up with the crap people throw at her make her less "girly"?

Hell no.  I happen to think it makes her awesome.

My youngest son could ride a bike by two, scored more goals on his soccer team than the rest of the kids combined, drop kicked the soccer ball into the tree during Christmas and can throw a spiral with a full size football already.  He got baseball gear for Christmas and has been asking five times a day when we're signing him up.

As I write this, he's also painting his toenails.  Again.  I'm pretty sure his toes have about six coats of nail polish on them.  He fairly frequently is dressed up like a princess, cha cha shoes and everything. 
He loves to sing and dance and has an unnatural affection for Lady Gaga.

Does that make him less "boyish"? 

Hell no, and anyone who would ever claim that can take it up with his mother.  I hear she's pretty badass.


  1. You know how I feel. Give them room to be human and things will fall where they fall--gender expectations be damned. That's how we raise strong and healthy people. Will be sharing.

  2. My son has been absolutely been drawn to music and the arts since we brought him home from the hospital. He's still not even two, but he lives to dance, sing & draw. He's got future glee-club junkie written all over him. He might play sports...he might not. I'm with you here...whatever he likes...however he turns out, will be a product of his loves, his instincts, and his own doing. I'm just here for the hugs and high fives ;)


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