Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My kids don't do your idea of normal

For years, there have been stereotypes as to what little boys and girls do in terms of playing, socializing etc. And for the last 21 years, MY kids have been doing their own version of these things. My eldest asked for a Barbie for his 7th birthday. My 3rd child wanted a toy dumptruck for her birthday. I have provided my boys with toy kitchens alongside their cars, and my daughters with Rip-Stiks alongside their dolls. Honestly, my girls have a tiny doll collection by comparison to some of my friends' daughters. I did too. And I dug in the dirt as a kid. If my dad, who abhors yardwork, had a tree I could've climbed in the yard, I would have. He bought the smallest lot on the block so he wouldn't have to do much mowing or gardening. So my tree climbing skills never blossomed.

I also was prone to hanging out with boys more often than girls, because boys didn't have the same B.S. going on than my female peers. The fact that I now have a TON of female friends is sometimes boggling to me. But, I've also gotten girlier as I've gotten older, and then this crazybaglady gig I do *is* rather girly. And my daughters are a healthy blend of girly and tomboy, and I am not doing anything to squelch it. It does pose some challenges at school because our genetic quirks make us and our children outside the herd. The herd doesn't know how to handle us right away, and the kids struggle with fitting in at school.

My 5 year old tells me with regularity that the girls in her class move away from her, and that it makes her sad because she likes them. It hurts my heart because I know what that means for her. It means that she isn't someone they relate to easily, and she's probably a bit rowdy at school (because she is at home too), so the girls don't want to get involved with a rowdy girl who would probably play better with the boys. My suggestion was to just leave the girls alone and hang with the boys. My daughter said that the girls are better than the boys and she didn't want to play with boys. I told her that sister and I were faced with the same problems as little girls, and we decided that girls were annoying and we hung out with the boys instead because they were just more fun.

It is a bittersweet realization that my daughters are SO much like I am, because I know the difficulty they have been living. My 12 year old was one of 2 girls in 5th grade who opted to go play football with the boys instead of walking around the playground gossiping. Middle school has been tough on all of us, and I truly wish more parents embraced variety and encouraged their daughters to go climb a tree, play football, go fishing, or skateboard. I wish more parents embraced their sons' softer sides a little more and let their sons play with kitchens and dolls. All of these things for each gender serves purpose, and makes them more well-rounded individuals. My oldest sons are awesome caregivers to their siblings, and can care for a home. My daughters will eventually learn the nuances of mowing the yard so my husband won't have to do it as often, and basic hardware use so they can install their own curtain rods, unclog the sink drain, or check the fluid levels in their cars.

Why do I do things this way? I do it because I don't want my sons to be a source of frustration for their partners by never helping around the house. I do it because I don't want my daughters to feel like they must settle for a partner who does this stuff, but neglects her soul or worse yet, abuses her. I want them all to appreciate what their partners do for them, because they understand what it entails. We're too weird to be your idea of normal, but we're too normal to be weird. And speaking only for myself, I am absolutely ok with that because... well, frankly I don't care if you think we're weird. I do, however, care that you teach your kids to not be jerks to mine for being slightly off center from your definition of normal.

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