William: Will you play Clash of Clans with me?
Scarlett: Yes. Then will you dance with me?
William: Yes, afterwards. You can have this sword and I will have the bow and arrow.
Scarlett: OK. Then will you marry me?
William: OK then.
Just before sitting down to write this morning, I was having a light saber fight with my son whilst trying not to wake my daughter’s ‘baby’.
This kind of gender specific play is not something of which I approve. Before having children, I was convinced that traditional male/female roles were something we learned, not something we were born with. Seems, as far as my children are concerned, I didn’t have that quite right.
It is certainly not something they have learned from us. Both husband and I work a three-day week so that we have exactly the same amount of days at home with the children. And if I tell you that they call our vacuum cleaner ‘Daddy’s hoover’ that tells you everything you need to know about who does the most housework around here.
Determined that my children wouldn’t be raised to follow stereotypes, I always made sure they had toys from both sections of the toyshop. When he was small, I bought William a baby doll and a buggy. He ignored the doll and used the buggy to transport his building blocks from room to room. Scarlett is no better. She has a sword which matches her brother’s, but she has tied a ribbon around the hilt of hers so that it can be used as a magic wand.
Which leaves me at a loss. What am I supposed to do? Should I remove all toys with any kind of gender connotation from the house? Rip the baby doll forcibly from Scarlett’s arms and make William face up to his parental responsibilities? Threaten him with the CSA?
Admittedly, it’s not always so black and white (or pink and blue.) Whilst putting on a puppet show of Rapunzel one rainy day, I laid aside all my feminist principles to put on a squeaky ‘princess’ voice and ask the knight to save me. I was pretty pleased when William put his head on one side and said, “Hmmm, maybe you could turn your hair into a lasso and save yourself?” Scarlett has also been known to dress herself from head to toe in pink and sparkles and then ‘tool up’ with an armoury of weapons that would impress Rambo.
Which leads me the conclusion that they are who they are. My determination that my daughter will be able to smash through any glass ceilings which stand in her way as a woman will not be affected by her penchant for Barbie and hair accessories. In the same way, the fact that my son has decided that he is a Super Spy in training should not deter him from becoming a sensitive man who takes an equal place with women in society.
Therefore, the next time I am fending off an attack from the dark side whilst holding my imaginary grandchild in my arms, I will relax in the knowledge that they both have their own ideas, opinions and way of living their life. My only job is to support them in whatever they choose.