My daughter likes pink… And it bugs me!

My daughter likes pink (Or Kink, as she calls it). Big surprise in our culture eh? So why does it irk me? I don’t want her to ever feel limited by the fact she’s a girl (and nor do I want Monkey to ever feel limited by being a boy) or that it means she is unable to do something. I want her to have and do whatever she wants, and she wants pink. So why am I uncomfortable about that? Is it just because it is so stereotypical?

I have to admit that I have tried to stay away from the predominantly pink clothes that are available for girls. Yes she wears pink (mainly because we have a lot of hand me downs from friends but also because I like pink and don’t want to avoid anything completely) but actually she wears all the colours of the rainbow. But her choice is always for pink. she prefers her pink coat, her pink shoes etc. So she does wear pink quite a lot at the moment.pink clothes

The same goes for toys, she has pink toys but she also has a lot of more multicoloured things and a lot of boys toys thanks to her older brother. I got her a red balance bike rather than a pink one… But she won’t go on it and I have to admit I am wondering whether she would be more inclined to use it if it were pink?

She shows such a preference for all things pink that it drives me crazy at times. With Monkey he was always about red and yellow when he was little, though he has moved over to blue and yellow as his main faves recently I think. With LM it is pink and purple. Anything pink or purple and she coos over it. I’ve just bought her a pink drinks bottle to stop the tantrums she had whenever she saw a friend with a pink cup and I tried to get her to use a blue or clear one.

It’s not that I want either of my kids to be brought up ‘gender neutral’ as I don’t really agree with that. We are born a gender and I don’t see any problem with identifying as that gender, to a point anyway. I also disagree with the boys will be boys mentality or that girls have to wear dresses and be graceful and dainty. As with most things I tend to like the middle ground. I’m a girl and I do like some pretty things and to look nice. But I also like to not bother with looking nice sometimes. I enjoy mental arithmetic, and I like cars. I want my son to know its ok to cry sometimes and for my kids to know that there aren’t different jobs for men and women.

So what does it matter what my little girl’s favourite colour is? Really? I’m a big fan of the “let toys be toys” campaign and I dislike the pink aisles for girls toys. But with a girl who loves pink so much without any prompting… I wonder if there is something about pink that girls love and that’s why the toys are pink and they know the will appeal to them? But then I am reminded of the fact that in the 19th century pink was more associated with boys than girls so it must be cultural, right? That even though I haven’t encouraged her to like pink, so much that she sees associates pink with girls.

I like Skye in the paw patrol as she is as much a part of the team as the boys, but again why is she pink to show she’s a girl? Dora wears pink, Millie in Umizoomi wears pink. Again is this because girls like pink or do girls like pink because of this constant reinforcement that pink is for girls?

Does it even matter? I have no idea. I’m going to continue to do what feels right with my kids. To play with the same things with both of them. Because girls can build and play cars and boys can play with babies and cook. To let them be who they want to be, and play with what they want to (within reason obviously, not kitchen knives lol) even if that means swallowing my own opinion or ideas. To guide them to be adults who know that men aren’t better than women and women aren’t better than men. That we have our differences, but that they don’t make either one less than the other. And I imagine that while I am doing that, that my daughter will be wearing pink.pink 1

Arguments about pants and the world through the eyes of a Threenager

These are apparently not the right pants

These are apparently not the right pants

Every day starts with an argument about Pants at the moment. Actually that’s not entirely true. Every day starts with hubs and I taking it in turns to get up with LM when she wakes up, anywhere from 5.30 to 7 am. Then when Monkey’s gro clock clicks over to the sun at 6.45 he comes and joins whichever of us in still in bed for a snuggle. Then there is an argument about pants.

Monkey is in pull ups at night at the moment. He has the occasional dry night so we know he can do it but he says it is hard work. We are trying to incentivise this by offering the star wars lego he wants when he is dry consistently, but so far we are not there yet. So anyway first thing it is time for a wee and to change into pants. The argument arises over which pants. Namely his “Dash pants” (Dash being the character from the incredibles) which he has decided are the only pants he ever wants to wear. They are often in the laundry basket and he has even been known to fish them out, massively excited at having found them. Cue explaining why you can’t wear dirty pants and trying to find some other pants that are acceptable.

Why am I going on about pants? Well this argument is similar to so many others we have every day. Trying to argue or explain to a three year old whose response is “but I want it. ” A three year old who thinks that that is enough and that no matter we say, the fact that he wants it trumps everything else. “Sorry darling but you can’t always get what you want. ” “But I want it.”

Sigh.

This face... looks like butter wouldn't melt but oh he is strong willed!

This face… looks like butter wouldn’t melt but oh he is strong willed!

The same also happens with the opposite. “But I don’t want to.” Monkey has become a master procrastinator and can always find a hundred excuses why not to do something he doesn’t want to do, like tidying toys. “I can’t bermember” (yes bermember, not remember, bless him!) “oh I can’t do it” “oh it’s hard work” “I can’t lift it” (a piece of duplo?? Come on) “I don’t know how.”

And oh the tantrums “no, you do it!” Um I beg your pardon, I don’t think so. Or my favourite “I’m the boss, you’re the child” and “I’m in charge.” Nope, sorry darling you really are not.

I’m not sure where all of this is coming from. We have been in quite a good place since Christmas, his behaviour has been great and we haven’t needed to do more than occasionally threaten the naughty spot. Now the threats are frequent and the times sat on the naughty spot have increased. He’s obviously not all bad, in fact there are so many times where he is absolutely adorable… But he is really testing us too. He doesn’t listen to me and ignores me. He is stroppy and everything is “I want” which I hate as it makes me feel like a slave, so I am on endless repeat reminding him to ask nicely which he does usually do with only a little prompting.

The threenager year has been an odd one with some real ups and downs. It is exhausting having the same arguments over and over again. The trouble is I know that some of it can be down to the way we are with him. Yes some of it is just a phase and he is pushing boundaries and figuring ut his place in the world… but I know he is better when I am better. When I have time to properly play and listen to him more. When I don’t let him watch too much TV. But the trouble is that parenting 2 small children is very tiring. His little sister inevitably takes a lot of my attention and when I try and do activities that both of them enjoy I invariably fail.

I try to give Monkey 1 on 1 time but that is easier said than done. Generally I am shattered in the afternoons when his sister is asleep so while I try to play with him there are a lot of times when I opt for a sit down in front of the TV with him instead or at least after a bit of a play. Then LM wakes up and chaos rules again. She is at a particularly trying age so Monkey doesn’t get the attention he craves and at times I expect too much of him.

There’s not much point to this post really other than a reminder to myself I guess that I can help change his behaviour, and not only via discipline, but by trying to listen to him more and think about the way he sees things, rather than just the way I see it. I read this very well timed post by the lovely Tarana at Sand in my Toes who put my feelings into words. This is how I wish I had the energy to be all the time. I don’t have the energy to do that but I am going to try harder to be more like that!

In the meantime, because I want to end focusing on the positives of this age, here are some of the cuter conversations we have had with Monkey lately.

“Mummy, Jack said something at playgroup today.”
“Ok, what did he say?”
“Um I don’t bermember. Daddy do you bermember what Jack said?”
“Um no I wasn’t there.”
“Oh. But do you bermember what he said?”

Having an argument with Daddy about his porridge at breakfast which he normally loves. “No! I don’t want it, no I won’t eat it.”
Daddy – “ok, calm down, what would you like” “Hmm. urrrm. I wooooould like….. porridge and honey”
Daddy – “that’s what you’ve got!”
“Oh yeah!” “Sorry, I made a mistake. ” (He says this a lot and I’ve only just twigged today that he is imitating the dragon from room on the broom!)

He loves Umizoomi and I do enjoy hearing him answer their questions. For example when they asked if he liked playing in the snow. he replied “Um not really, it’s actually a bit chilly”

Monkey as Darth Vader - hs "friend"

Monkey as Darth Vader – hs “friend”

“Dogs have bones but they don’t eat them, they hatch and have baby dogs in them.”

“Oh. That’s odd.” (He says this all the time and it is so funny as it rarely makes sense!)

“Daddy, I wish I could go into space so I could see the whole earth.”

“When I’m older I can go in Daddy’s office and work with him.”

He is obsessed with Star Wars and frequently says “Darth vader is my friend.”

His is also fixated on the days of the week. So every day, at least once, there is “what is it today?” so I tell him, and for example if I say, it’s Thursday, he wil tell me “tomorrow is Friday and then Saturday, Sunday, Monday..” sometimes telling me the whole week bless him.

While having a hair cut “I was looking in the mirror at my cutiful eyes.”

I’m not sure where this one has come from, but Monkey’s version of an expletive is “oh buffers” lol. Could be worse I guess?

And finally, possibly the cutest of all, is Monkey’s current obsession with his baby doll (she was actually bought for LM but who cares) who he sleeps with every night. She has his name and is his age but he is adamant that she is a gorl “She grew in my tummy then she gre out. She’s 3 like me now!” He adores her and sits her places so she can watch him and he cuddles her in bed at night. I absolutely adore seeing how caring he is with her and who said dolls are only for girls anyway?monkey and dolly

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Subconscious Stereotyping

With baby’s arrival only a couple of weeks away, we are in preparation mode and are trying to get the nursery finished. The last thing to do is put up the wall stickers. There will be another post to showcase these gorgeous stickers in situ once they are up, but I blogged about them when we chose them here. They are gorgeous and so pretty. I love the swirling branches and the cute creatures but… I suddenly realised something… they are very different from the stickers we put up in Monkey’s room when he was tiny.

Monkey's wall stickers

Monkey’s wall stickers

He has Hungry Caterpillar stickers, which we bought for no other reason than the reason we chose these latest stickers… because we like them. But, as part of the set, his stickers could be seen as more educational. Along with the characters from the book there are the days of the week, and also a big display of numbers. It’s part of the story, 1 apple, 2 pears, etc. etc. but it made me wonder, have we subconsciously chosen such different stickers for their rooms because of their gender?

Have we given Monkey stickers with numbers in because he is a boy? Have we given more simple, pretty stickers to baby because she is (we think) a girl? Or am I overthinking things and over-worrying? Quite possibly!

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Find out? Or wait for a Surprise?

I don’t like surprises. I’m rubbish with them. There’s generally too much pressure and I don’t know how to react to them. My hen do was a classic example of this as my lovely bridesmaids put in a lot of effort to organise some really thoughtful surprises. I really appreciated their efforts, but honestly? I kind of wish they hadn’t. I felt excluded at times as there was so much whispering and giggling behind closed doors, and the rest of the time I felt under a lot of pressure, with all the comments of “I can’t wait to see how you react” & “I think you’re going to cry.” It sadly turned some lovely, fun, thoughtful things into a bit of a stressfest for me and I then felt I had disappointed them by not reacting the way they wanted.

I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but I’m a planner, and ok, I admit, a bit of a control freak. I like to know what I am doing and what is going on. That makes me happy. I can be a bit spontaneous at times and of course the odd  little surprise of something like hubby coming home from work a little early is lovely. But big surprises, surprises that aren’t really surprises because you know they are coming but you just don’t know what the surprise itself is? Nope, I don’t like them. Maybe the fact that I am impatient doesn’t help either – I literally hate the suspense!

This is one of the many many reasons why we won’t be waiting for a surprise to see whether we are having a girl or a boy for the next baby. I understand that for many people the surprise is incredible, and a wonderful moment, and I’m not saying they’re wrong and that everyone should find out, this is purely about my personal choice. Because I don’t like surprises at the best of times, waiting for a surprise at that point in time, when there is already so much else to worry about (is the baby ok, am I ok) just feels too much for me.

The other main reason though that we will be finding out at the 20 week scan, is that I don’t like calling the baby ‘it.’ I understand you can name your bump, and I also know that gender isn’t everything that defines a personality, but somehow, calling the baby “he” or “she” rather than “it” makes it more real for me. It makes the baby a person rather than a thing. You know how it is, we anthropomorphise everything – we give human traits to animals, appliances and inanimate objects. It’s what we do! (come on, tell me you’ve never described a washing machine or car as temperamental, or assigned them a gender?)  So it feels natural to me to refer to the baby, which is a human, as a human (he or she) rather than ‘it.’

He? She? It?

He? She? It?

Monkey was Monkey before he was born. We had loved his name since before we were pregnant but held back in case, as some people say, we saw the baby and the name just didn’t fit. So we weren’t shouting his name from the rooftops, but privately we referred to him by his name. And we loved it. He was a wriggle bum then and stubborn as he wouldn’t turn (we didn’t know at the time it was because he physically couldn’t turn)  and we liked giving him personality traits. You could obviously do that without knowing, but for us, we just loved knowing that ‘it’ was a ‘he.’

I know that they can’t always be 100% certain when determining gender via ultrasound, and I’ve read stories about people decorating rooms in pink with names stickered onto the wall, only for it to turn out not to be the little girl they were predicted. Having said that our ultrasound technician was pretty convinced that Monkey was a boy as he told us that Monkey had been playing with his bits for most of the scan, and that for him it was pretty conclusive!

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We aren’t pink for girls, blue for boys people, so the baby’s room is probably going to be white and pastel colours, regardless of gender. We may go a little more girly if a girl is predicted but it would be pretty subtle. The baby will also probably wear Monkey’s old clothes, regardless of gender too, so it’s not so much the preparation side of things. Although I guess mentally preparing for a either will be good for me. I honestly don’t mind what we have, of course I like the idea of a girl so we have one of each, but honestly, girls scare me a bit when they get older, and boys are a bit more of a known quantity! So I will honestly be happy either way. It will be nice to prepare mentally for either though, as again, I don’t like surprises!

I just want to know. And, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can know. A lot earlier, when I am feeling calm. And honestly, it’s still a bit of a surprise no matter when you find out, isn’t it? This is obviously a massively personal issue and there are two set camps, those who choose to find out, and those who love the surprise. Neither is right or wrong, each to their own is what I say, but these are my reasons.

How about you? Do you like surprises?

mumturnedmom
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Mother's Always Right

Pink is for Girls – #ThePrompt

The Prompt is a fantastic link up designed to inspire you to write, brainchild of the lovely MumturnedMom. This week’s Prompt is:

Pink is for girls.

I’ve written about this a little bit before – when I was musing about toys in particular in my post ‘different toys for girls and boys‘ and honestly that post opened up a whole world of ideas and thoughts and questions in my busy brain.

So many thoughts that it’s difficult to extract them one by one and write them down but I will give it a go. I apologise in advance for going off at tangents!

Gender stereotypes exist in our culture. They have ALWAYS existed. Will they always continue to do so? The nature of said stereotypes have varied from culture to culture at different times. There have been matriarchal societies and patriarchal societies with each gender fulfilling different roles and therefore the gender stereotyping in that particular culture has reflected this.

Yikes I feel like I am back in cultural studies at Uni, or worse my boring Sociology A level!

Our culture has a long history of the subordination of women. Of women not having equal rights to men. We have thankfully come a long long way forward with this and many things are much more equal now. But, even with the increased freedom and the rights that women have, we still have Gender Stereotypes. There are still ‘manly’ things and ‘girly’ things. It starts when you are tiny. Pink and Blue. Cars or Dolls. Etc.

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A girly toy?

There’s a part of me that rebels against this, and as I have mentioned in my previous post Monkey plays with all sorts of toys, girly or otherwise. His bedroom is yellow. We don’t want to stereotype him. BUT we dress him in trousers and not skirts. Some of his clothes have dinosaurs or trucks on them because that is what is sold as ‘boy’ clothing. If we have a  little girl I’m sure she’ll wear a lot of his hand me downs (to save money) but no doubt she will have some prettier things too.

There was an article not too long ago about parents who dressed a little boy in a Tutu and said they were trying to raise him as ‘gender neutral.’ Part of me thinks ‘good for you’ while another part of me feels sorry for the little boy, because is it really possible to raise your child in a gender neutral way, when the society we live in is not gender neutral? Is it fair on them to expose them to potential ridicule by parts of society rather than to protect them from it?

I am all for men and women working having the same rights. I am all for stay at home dads or working mums, of female CEOs and male nursery nurses (I am just coming up with some random examples here). No I don’t like stereotypes that pigeon hole people, I don’t want Monkey growing up in a world where something ‘girly’ is bad. I don’t want him thinking that girls are less intelligent than boys (as a SAHM I worry about his female role models) or that boys are less caring or sensitive than girls. My hope is that I can nurture him so he feels he can be whatever he ‘wants’ to be, rather than what society tells him he should be.

But it’s not entirely up to me. I can’t keep him cocooned in a world of my making. He watches TV and will read books and magazines that portray the stereotypes I hate. He interacts with other children who have their parents’ values. I know of parents who use the gender stereotype of ‘boys will be boys’ to gloss over the fact that they are aggressive or hit other children. Or on the flip side when a girl turns on the taps at the slightest knock and are immediately cuddled and cooed over because they are a girl.

I don’t want monkey to be aggressive or over-sensitive. He usually laughs when he falls over (unless he really hurts himself) and he is learning that hitting is always wrong – even if someone else hit you first. But it isn’t my place to enforce my values on other parents and their children. (Who even says that I am right and they are wrong? I certainly don’t know for certain!) Everyone has to do what they believe is right and because of the gender stereotypes embedded in our culture, many parents teach their children (maybe even unintentionally?) that they are correct. I can try and teach him why I believe them to be wrong,  but I can’t choose what he believes or decide his opinions for him. 

Should our society even be gender neutral? Men and Women are different. Our bodies and physiology are different. In the broadest terms we do have ‘different’ skills. Men are often physically stronger than most women. Women have the physical ability to produce children and breastfeed. We are physically different, and men and women are ‘said’ to have different cognitive abilities. Such as multi-tasking, or spacial awareness (though of course things like this vary from person to person and can’t always be simplified down to one gender does this, another does this. maybe that’s the point?). We are different so why not celebrate that and be proud of the gender we are?

I also wonder where it ends, should we all wear the same androgynous clothing? Have the same haircuts? Should none of us (men or women) wear clothes that flatter our figures? Should we not care about looking nice? That opens up a whole other avenue of thoughts and do we only care about looking nice because of the objectification of bodies and the sexualisation of our culture and I guess the two are linked but I won’t go down that road for now!

I rejoice at the small steps taken by groups such as “Let toys be toys” which tries to take away some of the gender stereotyping that influences our children from such a young age. But I feel that these are just tiny chinks in a huge wall that will take many years to knock down. I also worry about what happens when the wall is down? What are we left with?

I don’t know the answers and if I’m honest what I think about it isn’t really fully formed. i guess some kind of middle ground… but what would that consist of and who decides?

Interesting debate though eh? What do you think? Is pink for girls?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

mumturnedmom

 


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Different toys for girls and boys?

Just some random musings from me about this really. I read a few weeks ago that Marks and Spencer are removing all gender specific labelling and packaging from their toys, so there won’t necessarily be a ‘pink’ section or a ‘blue’ section in their toy departments. The comments I read about this news story were so varied and it got me thinking as it is also quite relevant to Monkey at the moment.

Does it matter if some toys are marketed to boys and others to girls? Does that reinforce gender stereotypes or does it just show that most boys prefer some types of toys, and most girls like other types? On the one hand boys and girls are different so what’s wrong with boys being boys and girls being girls? But then they are also all individuals and everyone is different regardless of gender. Therefore some boys and some girls may be interested in the same things sometimes.

Even though we knew we were having a baby boy we didn’t go and get everything blue. His room is yellow and multicoloured and his baby clothes were similar, a real mixed bag. We try to have the attitude that there are no boy colours and there are no girl colours, there are just colours. Not everyone feels this way though, my mum and step-dad have semi-jokingly moaned in the past that Monkey has ‘girly’ stickers because there are some pink ones in the sticker book that say princess, as well as ones of digger trucks and dinosaurs. My response is that they are the cheapest stickers I have found (£1 for 2000) and neither Monkey or I care what colour they are. Besides, Pink wasn’t even thought of as a ‘girly’ colour until about the 1940’s!

Then a few days ago I was out with Monkey at a local shopping centre with our cheap basic buggy (which happens to be a bright purple colour). He was playing by a ride on bus and another little boy was hanging around and talking to him. As we were about to leave he says ‘is that a boy or a girl?’ pointing at Monkey. I just smiled and told him he is a boy and then he says ‘well I just wondered because that (pointing to the buggy) is purple.’ He looked so serious as if a BOY in a PURPLE buggy was the most stupid thing he’s ever heard. Made me chuckle but also shake my head slightly.

It’s not just the colours of toys/clothes etc. but the toys themselves. Why should some toys be designated as for boys while others for girls. Can a woman not work on construction? Or a man not work in a kitchen? Of course they can. We are now much more equal as adults but seem to reinforce the stereotypes when it comes to children for some reason. Why shouldn’t they be free to play with whatever toy interests them at that time without them being labelled as for girls or for boys. When hubby was little he had a ‘home corner’ and loved his toy kitchen and iron etc. and what is wrong with that?

Monkey does love a lot of his ‘boy’ toys, cars and trains are two of his favourites. Then on a play-date last week he was obsessed with my friend’s little girl’s dolls house. He played with it for ages! It reminded me of the news story about Marks and Spencer. It also reminded me that I had a doll’s house stored at my brother’s  that our uncle made me when I was a little girl. I asked my brother to bring it round and Monkey loves it! It’s quite well worn and the door and a couple of windows are missing but Monkey has been finding it hilarious posting people through the windows and putting his Postman Pat and Mrs Goggins dolls in the beds and on the chairs. I guess you would categorise a doll’s house in the girl toys section but I don’t see any reason why boys can’t enjoy it too.

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We’ve also been finding recently that rather than sit in his buggy, Monkey sometimes like to push it along (being a 3 wheeler one it then tends to bash into fences, bushes, people, etc. great fun…). So I decided to buy him a doll’s pushchair. Another traditionally ‘girly’ toy but again he loves it and is pushing his teddy round the house with glee. We also bought him a little tea set ages ago and he loves toy tea parties and pretending to pour the tea, stir the tea and drink the tea. It’s learning about life so why is that more for girls than for both?

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It goes both ways and a lot of my friend’s little girls love cars and trains etc. so maybe I agree with toy packaging being less gender specific… though I’m not sure if that will suddenly stop people considering some toys as boys’ toys and others as girls’, but maybe it would be a step in the right direction?

What do you think? Should boys not play with girls toys and girls not play with boys toys? Or should they be free to play with whatever they enjoy most at that time?

mumturnedmom