This post has been circling in my head for weeks but I hadn’t figured out the proper ways to word it so I’m just going to spit it out stream-of-conscience like. Grab your gender neutral handlebars because I’m about to get all soap-boxy on y’all.
My daughter loves pink. Pink, sparkly, shiny, bright, bold, flashy, twirly, long-haired siren to all that is feminine is the first thought you would have when you see her in any public place. She is brilliant in all her girly glory. Any person passing by would not give her clothing a second thought. They don’t see the facts that her clothes are soft, they don’t bind around her as she spreads her limbs in the dance of the wild and free, and they are usually stained at the knees from one too many trips across the floor or the grass with Spiderman in his web-tastic car.
Wait. Did I just say Spiderman? Yep. I did.
For a while I tried to contain the boy twins’ toys to their room. I picked them up after bedtime and I made two piles on the couch or in the chair of toys for her room and toys for their room. When I would clean up her room I would take the “boy toys” back to their room and move the “girl toys” back to her room from the boys’. Birthdays were blue and pink, macho and feminine, or Dora and Transformers.
When I would hear rowdy stomping and “HEE YAAAA!!” coming from my living room as I was in the kitchen, I would assume it was my boys and admonish them each accordingly until I would finally have to put in my physical presence to make my threat of separation more realistic. More and more often I would walk into a rousing battle of wrestling prowess between one of my boys and my daughter. Kung Fu Panda inspires her inner ninja and in all of her ponytail-swishing power, she would be stomping some serious Kindergarten boy tail and I would have to run interference on the twins’ behalf.
For a while there I wasn’t sure how in the HELL I was going to raise this little pink puff of eye-rolling attitude I had birthed. Her urgent insistence on “A dress, Mommy. No, a dress. I WANT TO WEAR A DRESS!!” was befuddling to me. Where had this little ball of girlish wonder come from because I couldn’t possibly have passed her any of my genes. I was the girl who threw huge tantrums on my mom every time she tried to stuff me in a dress; also known to me as the-thing-I-can’t-play-in-because-someone-might-see-my-butt-and-that-wasn’t-ok-and-now-I-can’t-go-play-in-the-dirt-and-that-sucks dress. Then she took an interest in the boys’ most recent Christmas acquisitions and I finally figured out that yes indeed, she’s mine.
On the flip side of that coin are my boys. My twinnies, who couldn’t be less alike if they tried. My stuffed animal loving bolt of lightening Screech and my mostly quiet and highly analytical Noggin who have shown interest in the things that I couldn’t get their sister to play with up until recently. The dollhouse. The cute little pink-roofed one that came with Mom, Dad, and an infant. This past weekend I discovered that the dollhouse has some new occupants. Spiderman, Batman, and Barbie have all moved into the attic while a monster truck occupies the middle of the kitchen. There were teacups full of Squinkies in the bedroom while Mom was relaxing in the tub. There was a Nerf dart stuck to the outside patio in an unidentifiable substance and a couple of the castle’s flying disks in different rooms all over the house.
And sitting in front of the dollhouse was my little pink ninja and Noggin who was arranging Squinkies in neat lines wherever he could find an empty spot. Screech was balled up on his sister’s bed in cheek-rubbing gigglyness amongst her stuffed animals occasionally squealing in joy and commenting repeatedly on how much they “tickled”. (This is his word for soft stuff that he rubs on his cheek. I don’t think it tickles so much as feels nice and soft but he lacks a word to describe the happiness he gets from something soft rubbing on his cheek, as do I. It’s squee-worthy. That works for me.)
Being the parent to these three little balls of wonder has often left me scratching my head as I comb a million websites and stores trying to find just the “perfect” gifts for my little ones for the holidays. Nine times out of ten, I am wrong. Things I thought they would love, they never even pick up, and things I thought would probably flop have become their favorite toys of all time.
So all this musing is to say that I think this year as the holidays are swiftly approaching I am going to let my kids do the picking. I’m going to take them to the store and let them wander the toy section without any direction from me and see where they land. I want them to find what lights up their hearts and what makes their eyes twinkle because I only get so many chances to do this right and they’re finally at the age where they can give me all the direction I need to find them the things that make them the most content.