He enjoys being a boy

This post is inspired by Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost effective ways to save the lives of children in the world’s hardest to reach places.

moustachioed My son is smack-dab in the middle of his sixth year, entering what child development folks call “middle childhood.” A number of physical, cognitive, and social milestones mark this time: by this point, kids can dress themselves, catch balls, follow a beat, begin to show independence from family.  They start the swing from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” and grow to be able to describe their thoughts and feelings in greater depth.

We’re extremely fortunate that so far, our boy has been more healthy than not, thanks to the vaccinations and medical care we’ve been able to provide him. When he has become sick, we’ve seen him through to well again.  So our milestones are sweet, interesting, fun ones, and he seems to be arriving at them more or less on time.

I’m guessing on that, of course, because we tend to make sense of our kids using yardsticks of our own fashioning, derived from our read of our kids (“Do they seem happy?” “Do they seem at ease in their worlds?”). If we’re worried, we becalm ourselves with the rhetorical exercise practiced by so many parents before us. “Do we really think they will be engaging in ____ [insert worrisome behavior] by the time they’re ______ [insert age comfortingly far enough in the distance]?” So far, so totally okay.

But there is one element of his development we have been watching with some concern, the more so this past year, his first in the wider world of elementary school. We’re two women (admittedly occupying spots fairly far apart from each other on the female gender spectrum, one more womanly, one more mannish)  raising a child who is living life from inside a boy’s body. It’s a life path novel to both of us, no matter how aptly we may find analogies in our own experiences. After years of opening every door we could and supporting his full range of self-expression, we have watched our younger child find his way from kid to boykid. And his sixth year has marked a point of clear arrival. This year he has hewed a path toward his own kind of boy, and has begun to walk it, clear-eyed and confident.

Already he knows a number of things about what he calls “rowdy” boys, or “boyish” boys.  Each of these types of boys (boys more ordinary, more “traditional”) is a kind he recognizes as different than himself. He is unequivocal, after the end of his Kindergarten year, that: he loves movement, but he is disinterested in cars, trains, or much of anything with wheels. He loves imaginary, fantasy characters, but is disinterested in superheroes. He loves to challenge his body and defy gravity, but is disinterested in all ball sports. He loves playing with friends, but tends far more toward ornery, scrappy girls than ornery, scrappy boys. Given a choice between a butterfly and a basketball tattoo, he’ll go for the butterfly nine times out of ten.  He wants a pen far more than he wants a sword, though he knows how to brandish both.

He has been mapping the landscape of “boy” with a cartographer’s keen eye for several years now. Since midway through preschool, he has become aware of the bounds around boy, reflected back as much by his peers as by the toys and narratives fashioned for him by adults. He started preschool as an occasional and happy skirt-wearer, and ended it knowing that boys who wear skirts draw attention, and at least as of now, extra attention is not what he wants, not from strangers. He wears his hand-me-down traditional boy clothes to school, and swaps into his gold lamé dancer pants at home.

He is not confused about what he likes: music, dance, art, imaginative play, cloth that is silken against his body, costumes of all sorts. Bugging the bejeepers out of his big sister. Skipping a bar on the monkey bars. Making people laugh. Growing his hair long enough to hold back in a ponytail, like four or five of the cooler boys at school. His current career aspiration, per an exercise in Kindergarten a few months back: “set de-ziner.”  I’d be happy for him if he followed through with this. I can also see him thriving in dozens of other life paths, regardless of how he spells them.

Most important is that at six, he has identified and is carving out a place for the kind of boy he is: a “gentle” boy, as he would put it, though that’s only relative, and inadequate a descriptor. More a “girlish,” than “boyish” boy, but again: inadequate.  My fondest hope is that in the future of his and his sister’s making, the landscape of boy (and girl) will be so multi-dimensional that measurement on a linear scale will barely even make sense.

[What sort of a boy or a girl (or a boyish girl, or a girlish boy) were you, at six? And what about your kids? When you comment below, know that every comment provides another vaccine for a kid who needs one.]

During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives! 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! Stay connected with Shot@Life at www.shotatlife.org, join the campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

 

258 Responses to He enjoys being a boy

  1. Sharon August 6, 2013 at #

    I was running-jumping-climbing-trees outdoorsy but not really sporty (lacking in competitiveness and coordination). I was going to be a carpenter and/or a nurse. I liked drawing and reading. I liked tomboyish clothes and dresses and my elegant, long, wool coat with velvet lapels. I wanted to be the principal boy in pantomime (mostly-British tradition, I think: the Prince Charming character, usually played by a young woman).

    “My fondest hope is that in the future of his and his sister’s making, the landscape of boy (and girl) will be so multi-dimensional that measurement on a linear scale will barely even make sense.”
    I very much hope that this becomes reality.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Thank you for this, ol’ (internet) chum. At six, I think you and I may have been fairly similar folk, though mine was the 1970s California suburban version.

      • cindy savard August 6, 2013 at #

        I think this is a very fortunate little boy

    • Dee Van Horn August 6, 2013 at #

      I love this blog. I have a transgender granddaughter who was not able to express herself as a young boy and took until her college years to really bloom. We hope for all children that they have parents who will let them grow and develop their own way.

  2. Veramur August 6, 2013 at #

    Great blog post. Likes what he likes and not confused at all.

  3. Ruth Newhouse August 6, 2013 at #

    Interesting perspective.

  4. Tyler Scholl August 6, 2013 at #

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Daphsmom August 6, 2013 at #

    Every child should be as lucky as your son to learn who they are without limits.

  6. Frank August 6, 2013 at #

    When I was six I started 1st grade, loved playing with my brothers, sisters, neighbors, and saw the Beatles on TV for the first time. I still love hanging out with my brothers and sisters and still love Beatles music. My children and grandchildren are healthy and happy–loving family and music and life. Thank you, LD, for the post–thank you Walgreens and Shot@Life for helping us make a difference so easily.

  7. Joyce Iltis August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a tomboyish girl with very girlish wishes for the pretty pretty dresses and to dance with the wind but then wanted to go to the barn with all the animals because I loved them all so
    now in my 60’s my life was such because in making a life for myself I had to have both skills and making no nonsense decisions We have 4 children 2 boys and 2 girls our boys are very boyish and girls very girlish a doing of their own very proud of them even though times in this country are very hard

  8. Melissa August 6, 2013 at #

    I think kids should be who they want to be. They have years to express themselves and see what works for them as an individual.

  9. Aida August 6, 2013 at #

    I can relate to your worry about acceptance of your child by his peers in school. I worry about that as well since my husband and I are in an interracial marriage, and thoughts of acceptance tend to creep into our minds from time to time. However I am greatly inspired by your courage and strenght, and believe that loved children will persever and grow into amazing individuals. Thank you for sharing your story!

  10. Chrysula August 6, 2013 at #

    Six has been such a time of growth for my tender-hearted son. He has decided he “is an artist of course”, and manages to combine his various obsessions with a compulsion to draw and sing everything that’s lives in his mind.

  11. RH August 6, 2013 at #

    Your post made me think back to when I was six. At that age, I loved everything about dancing – ballet and tap dance in particular. I loved gymnastics. I loved to perform and sing and try on my mom’s clothes and make costumes. As I got older, I definitely changed a lot because I got taller, and I morphed into an athlete and have a huge passion for sports. But many of the things I loved at age six I still love today!

  12. ccyl August 6, 2013 at #

    Thanks for helping kids be whatever kind of kids they want to be by saving their lives.

  13. JS August 6, 2013 at #

    Six is a developmental wonder, enjoy!

  14. Michele August 6, 2013 at #

    Even before my nephew turned 6, my family all knew that he was the sweetest kid ever. Now that he is 17, my mother (his grandmother) still says to him frequently “Stay as sweet as you are”. Given the opportunity in a caring, nurturing environment, children will find their way to the person they were meant to be. They may surprise you, but as long as they’re happy, healthy, and positively contributing to our society, that’s all we can ask. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  15. MC August 6, 2013 at #

    Your son sounds adorable! I love that he calls himself a gentle boy. He has so much insight at such a young age. Amazing.

  16. Tyler B August 6, 2013 at #

    Great post, Polly! Thank you so much for sharing and participating in Blogust ’13!

  17. Zoe August 6, 2013 at #

    When I was 6 I would only wear skirts, loved making up stories and worlds for my dolls and animals to exist in, spend endless hours making lego masterpieces with my older brothers, days collecting rainwater, and like nothing more than sitting down with some glue and sparkles. I think we forget we all live on a multi-dimensional scale. Thank you for being a voice that articulates! Great post.

  18. Loretta De Rosso August 6, 2013 at #

    I was born in August 1930, the youngest in the family. I had three sisters and a brother, two of whom “have gone on to bigger and better things”. Mom and Pop were born in Italy and needless
    to say, I was raised in a typical Italian household, lots of good food and no nonsense. Even though my brother was surrounded by women, he was very sure of who he was and thinking back,
    my formative years were memorable.

  19. Benjamin August 6, 2013 at #

    Intresting.

  20. Margo J August 6, 2013 at #

    I was definitely a boyish girl when I was six. Funny enough, my closest friends were very girly girls! I guess that happens when you are the tallest girl in class who happens to like athletics. Though I also very much liked dressing up in my mom’s old dresses before running out to play capture the flag with all the neighbors. It’s wonderful that each of your children is finding their own path. Thank you for being part of Blogust, and helping other children reach this fun and intriguing age!

  21. cindy savard August 6, 2013 at #

    This little boy has a wonderful childhood with a very caring parent. He is a very fortunate child

  22. Annie August 6, 2013 at #

    When I was six I moved from the US to England for six months. I was bossy, loved the Spice Girls, and flaunted my “cool” American accent. Every night my parents would have to sit and watch as I put on shows with my sister. I was so lucky to have a supportive family who fostered my creativity and caring parents who kept me healthy. Thanks for sharing your story!

  23. Myrdin Thompson August 6, 2013 at #

    Ah, “now we are six”…I’ve navigated the sixes three times, twice with boys, once with a daughter, each six was completely different than the other and I look back at photos and notes and think…wow, how did we ever make it to seven!

  24. C R August 6, 2013 at #

    Thinking back and thinking of now, though I may have been labelled, may have labelled and self-labeled and still catch myself labeling, ultimately, labels need not apply.

    Though I have and still do seek to “define” things, when I step out of my “self” and “just be”, I’m no longer in a gender state of mind.

  25. Lisa August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a tomboyish 6-year-old who preferred to pretend writing and reading over playing with dolls. (And yet my Barbie clothing collection was unrivaled!)

    Here’s to more vaccines to save kids’ lives!

  26. Elizabeth Griesser August 6, 2013 at #

    We love everyone

  27. KF August 6, 2013 at #

    At age 6 I was the girl that hung out with all the boys and I loved it! I was a “tomboy” and never really fit in with the other girls. Best of luck to your son, he sounds like a wonderful kid!

  28. Marsha August 6, 2013 at #

    Interesting, but you may be over-analyzing. Just support him in whatever he does or in whoever he wants to be. He will figure out the rest.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      🙂

      I’m a Libra and a writer and a perpetual digester. But also a staunch advocate of our kids’ autonomy. So while I can’t guarantee I won’t continue to over-analyze, I can guarantee I’ll be supporting him in whoever he wants to be. And I know it will be him who will figure out the rest.

      Thank you so much for the comment.

  29. Gemma August 6, 2013 at #

    The world needs “gentle” boys and “firm” girls, all with great sensibility, the world needs very human persons, boys and girls, women and men, so multidimensional they can be.

  30. Basirat August 6, 2013 at #

    I was not really a girly girl at 6. I was just an adventurous girl, loved exploring nature i.e. climbing trees to pluck fruits and so on.

  31. Randy August 6, 2013 at #

    Thanks for a window into your Life. He sounds like freedom already defines his vista.

  32. Tamara August 6, 2013 at #

    Your son sounds wonderful. Keep up the love and support – set “de-ziner” is a cool job!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Thank you. We were kind of hoping for super-successful investment banker looking to unload his excess $$ on his retired parents, but whatever! We’ll root for him regardless. 🙂

  33. Thomas Ronan August 6, 2013 at #

    I raised 5 children and now I’m helping my daughter with her two boys. I can’t tell you how much joy kids bring to your life. Just watching them grow and seeing them learn is pure pleasure.

  34. Devi August 6, 2013 at #

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You’re very welcome. Thank you for supporting Shot@Life!

  35. EI August 6, 2013 at #

    Thanks for your support of Shot@life.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      It’s an honor, truly. We are a very very very lucky family. This is an easy thing to do to be of any kind of support.

  36. Anna August 6, 2013 at #

    Your kids are so self-aware! It must be rewarding watching them grow and develop into little individuals. Thanks for this great post in support of Shot@Life.

  37. Wendryn August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a tomboy, jeans with patched knees, t-shirts, climbing trees, riding a skateboard, and swimming whenever I could. I loved to read and sing. I pretty regularly got mistaken for a boy because my mom cut off all of my hair when I let it get too tangled. I didn’t much care.

    Katja, at 22 months old, loves busses, trucks, sirens, dinosaurs, and her pink shoes with rainbow laces. She loves bright colors and books. She jumps and runs with abandon, almost always has a skinned knee, and wants to keep up with the bigger kids. She likes wearing dresses but I’ve already had to patch a couple of them.

    I hope she doesn’t have to fit into a “boy or girl” box. She’s so much herself, if that makes any sense, and she’s pulling a lot from both boxes. She’s tough, doesn’t much worry about it when she falls down, loves to snuggle up at the end of the day, and she can be the sweetest, most gentle person when she feels like it, too. I hope the either/or choice becomes even less rigid as she gets older so she can pick her path.

    Thanks for writing this. It helped me think through some of my hopes for her.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You are so welcome! And I so love: “she’s pulling a lot from both boxes.” All kids should have the freedom to do that, as much (and as little!) as they want.

  38. Celia August 6, 2013 at #

    I was so obsessed with being as good as I could for my parents and teachers, loved reading, and wanted to sing all the time. I don’t know how much has changed since then…

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Well I hope, whatever the case, you keep singing all the time! *That* has to be good for the soul, regardless. 🙂

  39. Marilyn G. Mason August 6, 2013 at #

    Very interesting story. I appreciate your willingness and delight in encouraging him to be who he is. I don’t know about at age 6, but I was a “tomboy” as a child, enjoying climbing trees and climbing to the top of the swings. I enjoyed that feeling in my stomach as I climbed higher and higher. I was not good at sports, perhaps because I couldn’t see that well. I got glasses when I was in third grade and may have needed them at an earlier age. I was also left-handed and so was confused about batting, not knowing whether to bat right- or left-handed. I am currently 77 years old, so age 6 was a very long time ago for me.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      At 50, age six seems an eon ago, too. Fortunately I have a few photographs of myself as a kid (also a tomboy) to help jog little bits of memory. I would love to have the opportunity to watch myself, though, or even sit myself down and have a little friendly, encouraging chat.

  40. Marilyn G. Mason August 6, 2013 at #

    What do you mean by moderation?

  41. Marilyn G. Mason August 6, 2013 at #

    Again, I don’t know what you mean by moderation. It is what it is.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You know what? That might be some auto-reply from my blogging software! I couldn’t find where I mentioned moderation in the post. Though I do think that’s a good plan for diet and exercise, I don’t think it applies as a great strategy for finding and expressing who you are! 🙂

  42. Sharon - MomGenerations.com August 6, 2013 at #

    This beautiful post has captured my heart and soul. Your words are powerfully gentle as you describe the path your 6-year old boy is carving for himself. I wish each child has the love, the path to carve, the gentle power of wonderful parents… and moments and milestones to catch who they are. Thank you for this…

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You are so welcome. I think we all do the best we can as parents, but I’m sure we also try (consciously or unconsciously) to heal what we can from our own childhoods. I think I was loved in spite of who I was, a bit more so than because of who I was. That’s guiding our work this time around, I’m sure…

  43. Julia Gibson August 6, 2013 at #

    Love this post. I was definitely a tom boy at 6. I still am at 34. Lol!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      See, that term needs to be able to apply way past puberty! I loved that there was a word for what I felt I was as a kid, and was seriously bummed when it looked like I couldn’t keep holding on to it. But that was then (came of age in the ’70s-’80s), and this is now. Long live tomboy!

  44. Jamie August 6, 2013 at #

    Beautiful post about how we are constantly changing and how every change helps define ourselves. Thanks so much for your support of Shot@Life!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You are so welcome. It’s an honor to participate.

  45. Pam Petty August 6, 2013 at #

    I enjoyed this post very much. It is wonderful to let your son be who he wants to be–a sign of great parenting.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Thank you. Frankly, I can’t quite imagine going about this any other way! We try to get him and his sister to bicker with each other less and eat more vegetables, of course. Would that we were as successful in those areas. 😉

  46. KABLOOEY August 6, 2013 at #

    At six I was watchful, I suppose. Trying to figure out how to “be normal” by observation. Smart but starting to mind when this got me singled out for attention. Good at drawing. About to discover the sweet haven of reading. Looking back, I wish I could encourage six year old me to take more chances and be more fearless, but that’s kinda like wishing to be another species. Now smiling as I think how opposite me my daughter is.

  47. Liz Ditz August 6, 2013 at #

    What a lovely essay, friend.

    I look at my daughter now at 24: to look at, a “girly girl” but inside, not such boundaries. She’s proud of how she rocks high heels and makeup, and equally proud as her black belts in martial arts and her boxing championship.

    I look at her oldest brother, now mid-30s, who is 6’3″ and loves basketball and his chosen profession, teaching preschool.

    I hope that the rigid gender binaries continue to dissolve.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      What a beautiful picture, your kids as adults. I can barely imagine mine there, but it’s a favorite passtime. Yegods, 6’3″. Yegods. Right now he still prefers to ride up the stairs into bed on my back. Thinking at 6’2″ or so that’ll have to stop.

  48. Fadra August 6, 2013 at #

    I have a son midway through his 6th year. Such an interesting time. I want him to still be my baby while he is slowly discovering some independence. My son, though, marches to his own beat. He loves to fight with swords (not real ones) although he looks more like he’s performing in a ballet. He hates the movie Cars but loves Tangled. He loves video games and sparkly jewels. He always wants me to buy him rings. While I’ve had to convince my husband a bit, there’s no right way to be a boy. I’m just thankful I have the little person that I do.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Stick to your — er — guns, sister! There are as many right ways to be a boy as there are being one. And we keep forgetting that it is US, not some abstract “society” out there, who provide the space and the support for our kids. My mom worried that I’d be endangered by being an out lesbian (when I eventually came out to her, and she began to digest that I was who I was publicly). She didn’t live long enough to be able to really absorb it that what I needed from her wasn’t caution about how to avoid social judgements, but support being myself in spite of them. So thank you for your broad-spectrum vision for your broad-spectrum boy.

  49. Debi Mohan August 6, 2013 at #

    I really enjoyed this insight into your boy. My sister is gay and has a son and he is very much a guy’s guy. He is now 17 and coming into his own. He likes cadets, and Playstation 3 and just hanging out with his friends (a good mix of girls and boys). I think even straight or gay parents each experience about the same emotions in raising a good and healthy productive child!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Indeed. Marvel, I think, and surprise. The “good and healthy productive” part is due to enormous good fortune, and also the amazing stuff they brought with them. Hopefully flowering bigger thanks to abundant love, but that last part’s a guess. 🙂

  50. timesnlatte August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a girly girl. Loved my baby dolls and wanted to be a ballerina princess when I grew up. Proud card carrying feminist today, but I still like pink.

    There shouldn’t be rules about what boys and girls are and/or do. We’re all people and should be free to express who we are as we like.

  51. Tanis Miller August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a hard core tomboy when I was six. I wanted to be my big brother. He was a year older and rough and tumble and everything I thought I wanted to be. I’m still more tomboy than girly girl and I’m totally cool with that.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Also you can castrate cattle, or so I hear. That is way more than this here suburban California tomboy ever managed. Tattered baseball cap’s off to you, Tanis.

  52. timesnlatte August 6, 2013 at #

    Oh, and we all deserve to be vaccinated so we can grow up to become whoever we want to be. (Does that get 2?)

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      I hope so, because I heartily agree! That is precisely what should have been the closing note to this post: whoever we are, we all deserve the shot to safely make it through our childhoods to become that person!

  53. Darryle August 6, 2013 at #

    With an older sister, my son grew up playing with dolls; while also being a guy’s guy who played all sports. Love your son’s description of himself as a “gentle’ boy. I would describe mine the same way today, a “gentle” man. I think a multi-dimensional landscape can really help make a difference in the world. Sending hugs to you.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Thank you, Darryle. Hugs back. And thank you for the vision of a boy like mine, grown. Our donor chum, his special uncle, is very much a gentle man (long-haired, quick-witted, bright-humored computer geek inventor chap). Lends some credence to the theory that some of how we’re gendered came with us when we got here.

  54. rachel August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a tree climbing, osh kosh overall wearing, playing in the dirt, and playing dress up in Granny’s fancy dresses and jewelry kind of girl. I was just as happy climbing trees and tearing through the woods as I was curled up in a corner with my nose in a book. 😉

    I see those traits in my own daughter and in my nearly 7 year old son he is rowdy boy and sensitive boy. He wants to run and tear it all up, and he wants to curl up in my lap and cry and cuddle.

    I love these days, these stages and these people <3

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      !!

      Truly, each stage of my kids’ childhood has been an amazing one to witness. I have a hard time believing I’ll keep loving each new age as much as I have the last. But I’m with you: I just plain love these people.

  55. Wendy August 6, 2013 at #

    Thank you for this thoughtful and beautiful post.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You’re very welcome, and thank you for your support for Shot@Life.

  56. Heather August 6, 2013 at #

    I think he and my older daughter would be fast friends, even with the age difference.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      His specialty is older girls! I say with no double entendre. His older sister is his Northern Star, and we co-house with my brother-in-law and his family, so the next closest to him in age is his girl cousin. Fast friends indeed!

  57. Lisa August 6, 2013 at #

    At 6 I had just moved to a new country, so all I can really remember is trying to fit in, not really embracing who I had been before. But who I had been before was a little girl who loved to play with dolls, read, climb trees, run, swim and do anything and everything the boys did. I felt unstoppable. But then I was stopped. Nobody put a stop to me, I did that, but knowing I could have let myself be more as a child encourages me to let my girls try and do whatever they want to do. My three year old just finished a ballet course, followed by soccer. Both her choices. She plays with her baby at home and then wants to go outside and ride her bike with the boys. I’ll never stop her.

  58. Roxanna August 6, 2013 at #

    My son at 6 years was VERY much like your son is. My son is now 14 and a genuinely kind person. He amazes us with his easy with people with special needs, his empathy for his peers and the quiet self-confidence that he conducts his daily life with. I wish that I were as together at 45 as he is at 14. I’m betting your son will be the same.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Thank you for the vision of such a boy, further down the tracks.

  59. Livin'Libby August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a full out tomboy girl. I lost that until somewhere around the first couple of years of college. Now I’m proud to say I love myself enough to not wear uncomfortable shoes, clothes or undergarments (although bras are a necessity) and do not own a dress, skirt or bathing suit without shorts.

  60. abbeyviolet August 6, 2013 at #

    My son at 6 is much more like my husband than he is like me. Sometimes he is very confusing to me because of this, but he is likely going to be a tall, quiet, nerd of a guy and I tend to like those very much.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      🙂

      Interestingly, while our son is so much more like me, gender-wise, he is very much like his Mama temperamentally. Likewise our daughter: far more girlie a girl (in a strong way), like her Mama, but I understand her temperament more intuitively. We’re lucky there are two of us and that our comprehension of the kids is complementary.

  61. Lynn J August 6, 2013 at #

    I remember that both my sons were gaining a little more independence by age six! Thank you for a great article! ?

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You are very welcome. And thank you for supporting Shot@Life.

  62. Kathleen August 6, 2013 at #

    Super interesting post!

  63. Another Jennifer August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a super girly girl at 6 even though I loved to play cars with my brother. I mostly wanted to (badly) paint my nails, play barbies, and wear frilly skirts.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      All of which items totally fit in a car! So there you go!

      What I have loved is to see how my daughter has evolved. From my own personal experience as a scrappy tomboy, I had presumed that girly-girlness was culturally imposed. Not so! Though our daughter has been given more stuffies than our son, she takes to them way more, and would much rather read than wrestle (whereas his ideal afternoon would include healthy doses of both).

      Who knew! So for me, watching her evolution has been as fascinating and informative as has been watching my son’s.

  64. Celeste August 6, 2013 at #

    Enjoyed your post – I personally was a mish – mash of tomboy and barbie loving girly girl – as an only child in a second family – so I played Barbies while wearing cowboy boots and six shooter.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      Smile when you say that, Barbie!*

      *old timey Western line my dad would always say: “Smile when you say that, pardner.” Just occurred to me that not everyone lives inside dialog from a circa 1948 movie, like my dad and I do.

  65. Emile August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a girl who liked everything. Having traditional parents, I had a Barbie’d room, princess furniture, and dolls and stuffed animals. As you said, I played with the toys “fashioned” for me as a girl, according to adults. What they didn’t count on was my older brother. He was lonely and spoiled as the first boy, so he forced me to play his “boy” games. But I came to like fighting bad guys and battling Pokemon and robots. I liked action and adventure and realized that everyone should like what they want to like, regardless of their sex. So thank you for raising your child this way and allowing him to be who he wants to be. I wish I had that kind of encouragement when I was six.

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      The critical thing is that we all, sooner or later, hopefully sooner, have the opportunity to have people around us who show us paths we can test out, to see which one is most comfortable.

      I had an older sister, but clearly glommed onto the boys and the scrappy girls in my neighborhood for role models around gender. We were interested in many of the same things, but I wanted the Ken doll instead of the doctor Barbie, which is what she had.

      The main thing I hope we can convey to our kids is unconditional love, because of whoever they are, rather than in spite of whoever they are. And hope we are able to expose them to as many healthy possible paths as we can, that they may see and find themselves when it’s right.

  66. Jess August 6, 2013 at #

    What a wonderful post! Thank you 🙂

  67. Monica T. August 6, 2013 at #

    When I was six, I was already a loner girl as I am now… Not because I was anti-social, but because I was more of a shy girl. Besides, I was more interested in books and the imaginary world that they spark in my brain rather than being with other kids and play. I do get out in nature, but I prefer to be alone. That way, I can appreciate its beauty more than when I am with others. I did socialize a bit, but not as much as others would expect, I guess. As far as being girly or boyish… maybe I am neither? I never identify myself as girlish or boyish. I like wearing skirts, I like wearing jewelries. If that makes me girlish, so be it. But I also don’t like the color pink, I don’t follow celebrity news and gossips, and I watch football regularly and quite passionate about it. If that makes me a boyish girl, so be it. I think it is time people move past stereotypes and let others live the way they want to live.
    Haven’t had any kids yet, so no comment on that part.
    Thanks for supporting Shot@Life!

    • LD August 6, 2013 at #

      You are so welcome (re: supporting Shot@Life). My thanks back to you for your support.

      And I totally agree: we are quite ready to move past a simple either/ or exclusive, linear scale around behaviours and gender.

  68. TJ August 6, 2013 at #

    I love this! Six is such a fun age! I remember running around outside and racing bikes. The coolest thing was to try and ride with no hands. And now it’s fun seeing my nieces growing up around that age with the same imagination and spirit. Great post and great cause!

  69. Money for vaccines! Money for vaccines! Money for vaccines!!

  70. Ashley August 6, 2013 at #

    I have two opposite kids on my hands…opposite from even myself as they are from eachother. I was a dyed in the wool Tomboy and still pretty much am… (dresses? ick) One is 8 one is 18 months and they are opposite…from 8’s straight fine hair to 18mos’ curly cued, thick Heidi locks. I already know I am going to have to step up my game to parent these two completely different people in a way that they feel they are getting the same attention…even though it will be different attention. 8 is very aware that she is unlike other girls…she doesn’t want to giggle after boys, she gets herself dirty, but not so dirty she can’t wash up in the sink. She wears out her pants and she’s VERY gentle… you almost can’t tell she’s holding your hand… but she won’t touch a skirt, makeup, hair ties, bow clips or perfume if her life depended on it. She wouldn’t even jump off the couch…and it’s fabulous… to see her on the couch reading enormous chapter books and gobbling them up… 18mos is a jumper, a climber and a constant dresswearer. She puts on her bangle bracelets and climbs the entertainment center with reckless abandon (until we stop her) and has already gotten her very own chapstick (baby friendly mind you) When she wants her big sister’s attention, it’s a running tackle to the ground with a smile on her face and a goose-egg on her head… It’s amazing to have these two different people in the house with me and I am surrounded by “different” even though, they are totally the same because they are still my little people…and that’s the point I try to make to 8… we are all people…and the boys that don’t ruffhouse and the girls that don’t chase boys are just making choices to be different people because that’s what’s so wonderful about life!!! It sounds like your son is just enjoying the things he loves and I love that! It’s so wonderful!

  71. Janet August 6, 2013 at #

    At six years old I was angry at why girls were forced to do one set of things and boys encouraged to do another. In particular boys got puppies and girls got kittens. I wanted a puppy!

  72. SARAH August 6, 2013 at #

    I was a mix of both – tomboy, rough & tumble, but I would play barbies with the little sister. I think it is so very important to allow children to discover themselves without the ‘push’ from society.

    Beautifully written <3

  73. Ana Flores August 6, 2013 at #

    I love this. I was a girlie girl and so is my daughter, but she’s so much more than me. But more than that, she’s got a crazy, wild and beautiful imagination that allows her to be whatever she wants to be.

  74. Sili August 6, 2013 at #

    I love that he knows what he likes. There’s nothing like a confident kid. Boy or girl. I think that at 6 I was talking too much in class and beginning to own my love of dancing and performing. I wonder what 6 will hold for my frog princess?

  75. Donna August 6, 2013 at #

    As the mother of a daughter, it occurs to me that parenting a boy is an even bigger adventure. It sounds like you are enjoying the journey!

  76. Vixi Dragon August 6, 2013 at #

    As the wife of a transwoman, and mother of 5 (2 of the boy persuasion, 3 of the girl), this hits home for me. I remember an incident when my oldest was, maybe, 2. He had been given a (boy) cabbage patch doll a few months earlier and was playing with dressing and undressing the doll when my mother-in-law’s husband chastised him for taking the clothes off of his doll. Happily, my mother-in-law immediately rebuked her husband, reminding him that kids that age are learning how clothes work. Unfortunately, my son abandoned the doll not much later (likely a direct result of being told he was playing with it the wrong way).

  77. Jessica @ Just a Mum? August 6, 2013 at #

    I wore overalls and black turtlenecks a lot when I was six, but also fell in love with a purple velvet skirt and sweater set. I loved playing with Barbies, but more often than not, they lived in trees and swam in mud puddles I made them. I loved building things with my daddy, but also taught myself to knit.

    So.. not girly, not boyish. Just a kid.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      God love ya! And you have it right on the button: “Just a kid.” That open space should remain open for a whole lot longer than it seems to. And good on those young people who doggedly remain who they are, even in the face of suggestions to oversimplify or conform (be they subtle or overt).

  78. Seana August 6, 2013 at #

    Great and thoughtful post. Just viewed from my town in what I guess you’d call a progressive section of California, I think gender is going to be one of the things that subsequent parents and children will be exploring, just as you all are. What’s innate and what’s constructed and what’s some combination of the two.

    And of course, as you point out, because of vaccination and societal wealth, we have the luxury of pondering these things. Thanks for writing a post for Shot@Life.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      I was honored to be a part of Shot@LIfe. And yes: our safety and comfort enable us to be able to note and appreciate these other milestones (a key point of their campaign design, methinks).

  79. Becky August 6, 2013 at #

    This is such a great post!

  80. Renee August 6, 2013 at #

    I agree with Jessica. I was just a girl – I loved sparkly things and Barbies, but I could also beat any of the neighborhood boys in wrestling and I built a kick-ass tree house. My son is also 6 and he loves anything with wheels and a motor. He pretends he’s a monster truck or a Formula One car and races around our house. He also begs me to paint his toenails bright orange and is in love with Sophia the First on Disney Jr. He’s a kid! 🙂

  81. Stacie August 6, 2013 at #

    Great post and thank you for your work with Shot@Life!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank you! And it’s an honor to be part of the campaign.

  82. Lee August 6, 2013 at #

    Thanks for reminding me of my gold lamé leggings! But more importantly, thanks for supporting Shot@Life.

  83. Chaz Walter August 6, 2013 at #

    Great article. Gender roles are so overrated in our society. People seem to forget that both males and females have estrogen and testosterone. As a child, I was never really into sports, though I tried. I’ve always been more into art and imagination. I could play cops and robbers one minute, and then Barbie dolls the next. Whatever I was into, I just went with it, and didn’t worry too much about whether it was ‘boyish’ or ‘girlish’.

  84. Andrea August 6, 2013 at #

    At 6, I love My Little Ponies, The Smurfs and Rainbow Bright (a child of the 80s!). I also loved playing kickball, climbing trees and sneaking off to play in the creek. Today I’m much the same. I wear feminine clothes and do my hair and makeup for work, but spend most of my weekends at the softball field getting dirty and sweaty and scratching all the skin off my elbows diving for balls.

    My son is only 18 months old, but his favorite thing on earth is a ball. In fact, ball was his third word, behind Jack (our dog) and Da-da. He spends a lot of time each day putting a ball on a T and hitting it. Neither my husband or I have pushed him to do this, it just seems to come to him naturally. Of course, it’s probably a consequence of spending every weekend at the softball field with his softball-crazy parents! I admit, I do hope he is interested in playing baseball as he grows older, not because he’s a boy and that’s what boys should do, but because my husband and I both love it. It would be much more fun for us to support him in that, but if he decides he’s into dance, theater, playing the flute, chess, scouting, wrestling, cheerleading, or whatever I will support him in that 110% as well.

    Thanks for your post. Your son is adorable. Also, thanks for doing this for children who aren’t as fortutunate as yours and mine.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Indeed. We are fortunate to be able to watch our kids be healthy enough to follow their hearts and curiosities wherever they may take them. Whether that’s to the theater or the baseball diamond. (I must say, I emit a wee sigh: I have purchased every manner of ball and have tried in vain to interest either of our kids in playing with them. And we co-house with my brother-in-law & his family, and both his son & daughter are majorly ball-sporty. So far: nada. But hope springs eternal!)

  85. SHIRLEY August 6, 2013 at #

    Every child deserves a chance to become all he can be. Vacinations make life more predictable,
    more secure, valued.

  86. Anne Child August 6, 2013 at #

    That he is alive, growing, learning, exploring, relating to those around him… that he is loved… is enough to make you proud.

  87. Maria Candia August 6, 2013 at #

    I’m raising two boys, hopefully, without falling into stereotypes. In our home there’s no such thing as a “girl toy” or “boy color”. When my 4 Year-old told me that “ballet is for girls, right?” I told him that “some girls practice ballet, and some boys, too”. I hope that one day they’ll follow they’re own path without judging or being judged.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Yes! The “most” / “many” / “some” distinctions have helped clarify so much for us as we explain and interpret the world for our kids. Value-free and also more accurate!

  88. karen August 6, 2013 at #

    Such a great idea!!

  89. Nancy Dailey August 6, 2013 at #

    Glad you shared this! We all worry as parents if we are doing all we should or could do to raise our children to be independent productive adults. As I have worked with and around kids all my adult life; I have noted that the greatest needs to meet these objectives are love, safety and encouragement to be themselves. This allows them to be who they really are and allows they to let others be that way too. Think you will
    find he will continue to change and experiment alot before he decides exactly who he is and who he is will be just fine.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Yep, I think you’re right. There are so many selves to audition and try on for size. I probably would never have recognized my adult self from the vantage point of my own youth, that’s for sure. And each period of exploration is critical, in that it leads to the next, and all become a fund from which to draw clarity.

  90. S August 6, 2013 at #

    My kids haven’t hit the 6 milestone yet, so I can only speak about my experience. But I was neither a so-called girly girl or tomboy. By that age I had traded in dresses for T-shirts and pants, loved to run and play baseball and soccer (and desperately wanted to be the first girl football player in town), but I also liked to dance, sing, and feel pretty. I think it’s great when kids can’t be pinpointed by some label of what a boy or girl should be, and they can just be themselves, whoever that may be.

    Thanks for your post for Shot@Life!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank *you* for commenting and helping support the funding of vaccines for kids who need them!

  91. M August 6, 2013 at #

    Interesting perspective on gender roles

  92. Kjetil Dybvik August 6, 2013 at #

    My son is 5. Living in one of the richest countries in the world. I would like 5-years old to have the same opportunities as my Leo does have. I want every 5 years old to smile, play, stay healthy and happy.

  93. Dresden August 6, 2013 at #

    At six I was kind of a lump of girl. I was aware that other girls my age were all about GIANT bows and PINK and I just wasn’t there. My personality was mostly focused on finding quiet corners to escape to with a book and not making much noise. Six was a transition year where my mom went back to school and my grandparents started taking an active role in helping to raise me. Wow. Six was pretty damn complicated for me. I hope it’s easy going for W, I really do.

    Your son does six PERFECTLY!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      🙂 And if “perfectly” includes driving his sister (and oftentimes his Mama and Baba) nuts, then yes, he’s got it. He certainly knows that mirth is where it’s at.

  94. Elena August 6, 2013 at #

    What a beautiful description of how he is evolving into his own self…. It is not easy as parents watching our children attempt to cope with their sense of self. I was pretty much a girly girl at six– although my daughter- now 8- while having her (many) girly girl moments also at 6 (and still to this day) loves to play in the mud, work on cars with her dad.

  95. Tasha August 6, 2013 at #

    First of all, I want to say bravo! I wish that more people would let go of “traditional” beliefs of what a boy or girl should act like or be interested in. I have 2 sons one of whom could care less about sports and tools, the other can use tools and is interested in sports. I raised them both the same way. Encouraging them to be creative, to always be themselves no matter what, allowing them to find their own interests and above all, always be kind. I have been given the gift of two totally different personalities but both have generous hearts. This brightened my day. I have been criticized by many about my parenting skills (a boy shouldn’t wear that or should know how to…) I have let it go in one ear and out the other. I look at them both with so much love, pride and even respect. I wouldn’t change a thing that I did raising them. They are themselves and that is what is important. Congratulations, sounds like you have a delightful happy child and that’s exactly what children should be. Thanks again for brightening my day.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      And thank you for brightening mine! I love that you just let the malarkey back seat driving “go in one ear and out the other.” Seems to me that’s just where it belongs.

  96. Renee August 6, 2013 at #

    I would say that I have always been a girlie girl – at 6, 9, 10 20, etc. But my son is both a sensitive soul at 6 and a rowdy boy. I think he is the best of both worlds!

  97. motek August 6, 2013 at #

    Beautiful post

  98. Amanda August 6, 2013 at #

    Great post. Happy Blogust!

  99. Kris August 6, 2013 at #

    At 6 I was more interested in boy toys than girly things, much to the dismay of my parents, who had hoped to be raising a princess. Fancy dresses and bows in my hair were just torture – I was happier in dirty jeans, a t-shirt and a hat to keep my hair out of my face. And boy toys (Legos, action figures, etc) were WAY cooler than the barbies I kept getting as gifts.

  100. Dfox August 6, 2013 at #

    Thank you for sharing this story. It gives amazing insight and confidence to be exactly who you are… No matter what people may think 🙂

  101. Alicia August 6, 2013 at #

    I loved reading this and the interesting perspective!

  102. Mackenzie August 6, 2013 at #

    So many things I love about this post. I think it’s incredible that at 6 years, your son has realized what ‘extra attention’ from his peers is and looks like. I love that your children are growing up knowing that their choices of play/dress/activities are OKAY and that you will support them. And I LOVE that my comment results in a child’s vaccination. Thank you!

  103. Hira August 6, 2013 at #

    I remember equally loving to play Barbies and Aliens 🙂 love the cause and hope the vaccines help InshAllah

  104. Joyce August 6, 2013 at #

    Neither of my boys were rough and tough. There Dad is a gentle man . My brothers were scrapers always physical a d ready to fight with each other. one so. The gentlest of the 2 is an RN and very good at his job. The other son is single, a hunter and fisherman who enjoys all outdoor sports. Wonderful men, gentle men, completely different.

  105. Amy August 6, 2013 at #

    Great post!

  106. Tracy August 6, 2013 at #

    I was more of a girly-girl than a boyish-girl. I didn’t like getting dirty and I hated playing with cars. Bring on the barbies and paper dolls! I hated doing chores outside and preferred to do the house chores. I am basically the same today; hate doing outside chores, love reading, sewing,crafting. However, I love playing sports. and I hate when my daughter plays sport “like a girl”. Because boys and girls do play differently, up to a certain age. In elementary school, for instance, in basketball games, R and her teammates would scream, stamp their feet in frustration and basically not really play the game if they missed the ball or a shot. Whereas watching my son J play sports is much more entertaining, as boys actually play the game and strategize. They don’t waste energy bemoaning the fact that they missed the ball or the shot, but they continue to play as though they didn’t mess up and they start thinking about the next play.

  107. Dick August 6, 2013 at #

    Thank you for sharing this lovely story about your family.

  108. Christy@SweetandSavoring August 6, 2013 at #

    Beautiful post! Glad I clicked over here and discovered your blog! When I was six, I mostly played with my little brother and looked up to my older sisters. My favorite color was pink, but I loved playing in the sandbox, building towers with my brother, and going to stock car races.

  109. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru August 6, 2013 at #

    At six, I was a girly -girl and then I had my tomboy phase in my tween years. By the time I started dating at age 16, I was back to a girly-girl who loved talking college sports with her dates. Our society gives plenty of opportunities for girls and boys to experience positive aspects from both genders. A loving, caring boy will make a great father some day.

  110. Lucrecer August 6, 2013 at #

    Oh, i love this so much!

  111. Carol August 6, 2013 at #

    So nice to see someone doing good for others.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      This campaign from Shot@Life is a great thing. As is the good they do with it.

  112. Sheila August 6, 2013 at #

    This was fabulous!

  113. CAROL August 6, 2013 at #

    I like that you said,” We’re extremely fortunate that so far, our boy has been more healthy than not, thanks to the vaccinations and medical care we’ve been able to provide him.”
    Isn’t this the truth. Thank goodness for Shot@life to start making this a reality in the countries served…..
    I was a timid 6 year old, don’t remember much from 6….played with my younger siblings and was working hard to get to know the world around me as I had moved from MA to IN,once in IN moved 4 times in 2 1/2 yrs and two different schools.
    Our children are grown now and lived in the same house and town from birth to their twenties.I tried to teach them to be open ,caring human beings.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Indeed: we have the luxury of watching these subtle, social and emotional milestones because the critical physical well-being ones keep being met with first-world, sufficient income ease.

  114. melodyrn August 6, 2013 at #

    My oldest son is definitely a boy boy who sleeps and breathes sports while my middle son is more sensitive and appreciates a good musical and watching Glee. I’m happy to be living in a time where its more and more acceptable to by a kid and not confined by what a boy or girl are “supposed to like.”

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      And how wonderful that each of your sons is becoming uniquely himself.

  115. I’ve always been a girly girl. I loved (and still love) dolls, playing dress up, and playing “tea time” with my friends. I’m happiest with my feet on the ground (usually clad in impractical but beautiful shoes) and far, far away from snakes, bugs, or other slimy creatures.

    I am so grateful to have grown up with liberal access to good healthcare as well as with two parental figures – my mom and my stepdad – who never cared who I wanted to be when I grew up as long as that person was respectful of others, honest, and had a happy life. I know I am privileged and I wish I could wave a wand and make it so for every child in the world!

  116. Lyssa August 7, 2013 at #

    My guy loves being a boy too!!! (and that keeps this mommy super busy!)

  117. Paula Kiger August 7, 2013 at #

    I can barely remember six! I do know that I wasn’t much of a “doll” person — probably books, Captain Kangaroo, and …………… playing outside because we lived in Puerto Rico on a Navy Base. I love the gold lame’ pants!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      …and so does he! When he has ’em on without a shirt, all I can think of is Cirque du Soleil and how I hope it doesn’t occur to him to run away and join up with them. Not that he wouldn’t be a tremendous acrobat. But I want him to hang around the house for a good ‘nother dozen or so years.

  118. Jacob August 7, 2013 at #

    Great !

  119. Morra August 7, 2013 at #

    Polly I want to meet your son! What an incredible soul!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thanks: he is a doozy of a human being, I’ll say that. Not short on personality at all, though not quick to show it to new folks. I rather think if I was his age, I’d really want to be friends with him.

  120. Ruth Brown August 7, 2013 at #

    At age 6, I liked music and played a lot by ear on the xylophone. Two of my kids loved reading already by age 6, and one was already a bit of an artist.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Wow: playing by ear on the xylophone. You were either really good or you had really patient, loving parents. Or, happily, both. 🙂

  121. Dorit Reiss August 7, 2013 at #

    I liked your point that we should get away from linear measures of girl” and “boy”. I hope your children really can get away from them. And that they both stay healthy.

    I was a tree climber as a six year old girl.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank you. I hope the same for all kids: freedom to become their happiest selves, and the health and healthcare to get them there.

  122. Samantha August 7, 2013 at #

    I was a girly girl. I loved my dolls, Disney princesses, and Sailor moon!!!

  123. Claire King-Mercado August 7, 2013 at #

    Set de-ziner! Love it

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Right? I had to stare at the word for a long while before it made sense. Fortunately he had an accompanying illustration of a theater stage, complete with curtains, so I had a hint.

  124. Lori August 7, 2013 at #

    Thanks for sharing and supporting the important mission of Shot@Life! We are quite blessed to live in a country where medical care and immunizations are rather readily accessible.

    I enjoyed your post and especially like your reference to the linear measures of boy and girl. As the mom of a 5 year old boy, I’ve been amazed at the statements that he sometimes comes up with – girls can’t do that Mommy, boys don’t play with dolls, etc…none of these have come from our house, but from neighborhood children, comments from daycare, etc. As a rather independent woman, I remind him often that anyone can do whatever it is that he or she wants in life as long as he works at it – be it a dancer, fireman, football player, or artist.

    Thanks for your insight! Bless you and your family!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank you, Lori! And yes: it has been pretty amazing to see how clearly the available paths become defined for our kids (and by so many various sources we’d never be able to steer them around: other little kids, you name it). Our daughter knew clearly that the hand-me-down Star Wars t-shirt we pulled out of a bag was not for her, even midway through Kindergarten. “Star Wars stuff is for boys,” she said. And of course she was more or less right, too, since when we eventually watched the movie a few years later, she lamented that Princess Leia basically got saved and didn’t save anyone. Sigh.

  125. Gwen August 7, 2013 at #

    I have two boys who are more into the arts than sports. I love that my oldest is to the point where he wear what he wants when he wants to. My youngest is starting to worry about what he wears and I am dreading the kindergarten full of boys who only wear “boy” colours. I hope that dance, theatre and music are always big parts of their lives.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Ah, yes. We had a lot of concern upon his entering Kindergarten, too. What seems to help is that kids, while aware of social norms and such, are still so very very open at that age. Also, kindred spirits recognize one another. I would hope that even if they don’t seem to be in the majority, he’ll find other similarly inclined boys (our son has found such folks at school, even if they are relatively rare, they do exist, just like he does).

      I, too, hope that dance, theater, and music continue to be big parts of our son’s and our daughter’s lives. Their mama is a youth music theater director, so they see dozens and dozens of cool high school kids, girls and boys alike, finding themselves in the arts. Thank heavens for the arts, basically.

  126. Kathryn August 7, 2013 at #

    I love how you are letting him mold himself, not holding him back because society says one thing! When I was 6 I was a fashion diva with the skirts earrings, side ponies and nail polish. My 2 girls are different from each other my oldest at 6 hated dresses, always sneakers and jeans. My youngest who at the moment is 6 just like me! Little diva! I say let children be children and discover who they are!

  127. Sean August 7, 2013 at #

    This makes me think about myself, not at his age but looking down from atop my 45 year “pinnacle” to see how I got here . When I was about his age, my parents divorced, largely due to my father’s problem with alcohol at the time. To make a long story short, I had mostly women as my role models, my father was not close to me until much later in life. I had sporadic male role models and these were mostly positive, but some not so. I became a believer in Christ in my early teens which was a big change. Jesus, was my new male role model and not like a “rowdy boy” or “boyish boy” which I too felt were not my “type” of boy, so I felt comfortable around Him as do many others, (maybe for similar reasons?). My inclination was more towards philosophy, music, fantasy and science fiction as well. I was different too. In school, in work even now- I just don’t know how to “jaw with the guys” about baseball and sports etc. I feel akward when I’m around guys like that (the majority I think). Honestly, I feel like a space alien. I don’t feel judgmental or condescending, but it’s like I don’t speak the same language. I feel much more comfortable with women than men. I wish though, that I had learned to be able to relate to both in the same way. I feel like I’m missing out on something now. I’m not saying your boy is or will be like me–I have NO idea at all about that. Best of wishes for success with your parenting though.

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank you for this, Sean. I do hope our son grows up to feel comfortable connecting with a huge range of people, but I suspect that even so, he will find his deepest friendships with kindred spirits, as do we all. I love all sorts of people – all sorts – and sincerely enjoy interacting with a wide range. But no doubt I am most comfortable being most vulnerable with folks most like me, emotionally-spiritually. The wonderful thing in my own life has been that such people have been both women and men, my same race and other races than mine. (One of the people I most resemble, energy-wise, humor-wise, and engagement with people-wise is an old chum who’s a man, African American, and a Baptist minister. Yet we’re twins separated at birth in a hundred ways.)

      What I see in your statement, which is nice, is that while there are types of guys with whom you don’t feel you connect, there are others (those akin to you) with whom you do. I don’t know what sort of man our son will grow up to be, but I would imagine he’ll appreciate knowing there are folks like you in the room.

  128. 'Tricia August 7, 2013 at #

    So glad you have a sweet boy! Allowing him to feel a whole range of emotions and experience what works for him will pay off in the future. Enjoy his journey!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Thank you. We’re blessed, any way you look at it.

  129. SimplySuzi August 7, 2013 at #

    Great post. Vaccinate. For life!

  130. Amber August 7, 2013 at #

    My sons favorite color is pink and I couldn’t be happier

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      Brava! And a right snappy color that is, too. Goes with a lot.

  131. ~j. August 7, 2013 at #

    This post brought tears to my eyes. My boy is also six, almost seven. He’s struggled socially at school but not at home with four sisters. School starts again in just a few weeks and I’m walking the line of bracing myself and willing a brave shield for my boy to carry daily. I don’t know what this school year will bring for him, but I know that my heart overflows to bursting just thinking about my boy.

    Thank you for being a part of Shot@Life!

    • LD August 7, 2013 at #

      It’s an honor to be part of Shot@Life. And I dearly hope your son finds a kindred spirit this coming year.

  132. WSW August 7, 2013 at #

    Lovely

  133. AG August 7, 2013 at #

    I cannot yet say what is favourite colour of my little chap, but I guess that soon will be revealed as he seems to have a very determined character for his 2 years old…haha. Nice history of your soon. Cheers.

  134. anohar john August 7, 2013 at #

    Really a touching story

  135. Katherine August 7, 2013 at #

    A touching post. Thank you for what you’re doing for Shot@Life!

  136. UpsideUp Laurie August 7, 2013 at #

    I was a bona fide tomboy at age 6. I was the youngest of 10 cousins, and the only girl. I could either assimilate or rebel. I assimilated. Played every sport as well as my older boy cousins; preferred boy friends to girl friends; first star / birthday candle / found eyelash wishes were always futile requests to just become a boy.

    I love your observations about your son. He’s lucky to have parents who respect his choices as much as you do. That will be so valuable to him as he grows up.

    Thanks for sharing and for participatin in Blogust.

  137. Felisa Hilbert August 7, 2013 at #

    I enjoy reading this post and thank you for helping shot@Life with this campaign also thank you for the work that you and you partner are doing to make sure your boy knows that he can express himself.

  138. GirlsGoneChild August 7, 2013 at #

    I love this so much. Lucky kid you have there. xoxo

  139. Val August 7, 2013 at #

    I was a boyish girl when I was six. I loved climbing trees, zooming matchbox cars in the dirt, and playing kickball until it got to dark to see the bases. I rode bikes and jumped homemade ramps and loved anything outdoors. I did girlish things – usually with my sister, or the other “girly-girls” in the neighborhood. Barbies, carebears, playing house or school. But 9 times out of 10 I would take being outside and being “a boy” over being girlish. It just didn’t mesh with me. Still doesn’t.

    Now, here I am at 40. A mom with an 8-yr old girl who happily follows in my footsteps, and a 5-yr old boy who is, much like your son, finding his way. He does play with the boys, and get rowdy, and break things, but I see the other side of him too, and sometimes he’s very happy being quiet, thoughtful, gentle and less “boyish”. I can only hope to encourage him to be who he is, to do what makes him happy, and if that’s writing stories and “being an artist” [thank you pre-k ‘growing up’ exercise], I hope he follows his heart and his head, and is confident in who he is.

    Your son sounds like he is strong and self-confident, and that’ll get him through the weird stuff when others “don’t get him”. Sounds to me like you folks are doing everything right. 🙂

  140. Sarah C. August 7, 2013 at #

    At 6…I was often confused for a boy. I had chili-bowl cut blond hair with perpetual crooked bangs (thanks, mom) and hand-me-downs from my brothers and church friends. However I was already a little mommy and was never far from a baby doll. To this day, I’m feminine but not nearly as much so as most women around me.

    My son is nearing two and has yet to develop opinions about clothes. He loves tee-tucks (big trucks) and patting dolls to sleep singing “night night baby”. He isn’t as energetic or rough as most of his boy friends but is instead intentional and cautious. I can’t wait to see what kind of 6 year old he becomes.

  141. Peggy Leger August 8, 2013 at #

    Thanks for the beautiful blog, and for the opportunity to provide a vaccine for a child.

    My twin boys are 10 now, and wildly boyful. They love science but not hockey, catching frogs but not hurting them (“You have to wash your hands in the river first, so your skin oils and salt don’t hurt them.”), boffo swordfighting, reading, wearing sarongs when we go camping, swearing handily, cooking, and swimming in the river.

    At six they wanted to be vegetarian: “Animals are our friends. You don’t eat your friends!” But they didn’t want to give up bacon….

    As a single mum, I sometimes fret that I have to work harder at providing them with male role models, men who will show them alternate ways to be a powerful man, other than “better living through murder and mayhem”, which seems to be the pervasive theme in the videogame culture that so captures their imaginations. How can I compete with a fantasy life that gives them instantaneous reward, effortless bounty, unlimited chances to try again? Real life takes so much more time and effort. And identity, and empowerment, are is so very nuanced, and hard-won…

    They recently had to rethink, for themselves, the meaning of being gay. I have raised them with access to information about sexuality, including the fact that people can fall in love with someone of the same or the other gender: that some people are wired to be attracted to only one gender, and others can be attracted to either.

    I told them that when they use the words “gay” or “fag” as put-downs, like they’ve heard kids at school do, they could make someone feel bad about themselves for something over which they have no control. I gave them the example of my cherished childhood friend Jenn, whom they know and like, and who loves her partner Isabeau deeply.

    They kind of got it, but it really came home to them when their much-admired teenage buddy told them he’s dating a guy. At first, one of my boys wanted to defend him against the “accusation” of gayness. The teen calmly and gently said that he wasn’t sure if he was gay or bisexual, but that he really, really likes this guy he’s dating. It was a layered moment for me. I hadn’t realized, until right then, that my teaching hadn’t outweighed the small-town culture of their schoolyard. I was uncomfortable about that. And I was proud of our teen friend for his forthrightness and compassion toward my sons.

    I was also moved to see my boys’ inner shift. Glad to see certitude crumble. Glad to see perplexity give way to acceptance. Glad that love outweighed the need to follow “the tribe,” and that my sons are capable of re-evaluating the community mores, and of standing outside of them, when it becomes clear that the power they can attain from joining in contempt requires them to denigrate someone whom they know to be smart and funny and kind.

    In the end, I can’t really teach them what to think. I can only watch in awe as they find their way. And love them like crazy.

    • Connie Flores August 9, 2013 at #

      Beautiful! You sound like an exceptional parent.

  142. Vivi August 8, 2013 at #

    such a great story.

  143. Anna August 8, 2013 at #

    An interesting read. Thanks.

  144. RonnieBMWK August 8, 2013 at #

    Great Post…thanks for sharing

  145. RonnieBMWK August 8, 2013 at #

    beautiful post…and age 3 is my favorite too!

  146. Connie Flores August 9, 2013 at #

    Loved your blog. Reminded me of my oldest son who’s turning 47. He grew to be a talented, kind and witty gay man I only wish I was as perceptive and wise as you and your partner are. If I were raising kids today I would read your blog all the time!

  147. pingram August 10, 2013 at #

    How lucky is your son to not be pigeonholed into somebody else’s idea of what a boy is. To be able to discover that on his own is a wonderful way to grow up.

  148. Allison August 10, 2013 at #

    I was a tree-climber, Lego builder, backyard gymnast, animal lover and I wore pink converse high tops!

  149. John Bacon August 10, 2013 at #

    Nicely done

  150. Jess August 12, 2013 at #

    I don’t remember how I was at 6. I wore skirts and pants and nothing I wore ever matched. I had crazy curly hair (still do) and I think it was at about that time that I stopped looking like Shirley Temple and started looking like a giant cotton ball had landed on my head. Life was hard then and my father made it very clear that being a girl was shameful. To him, girls and women could never be intelligent and only existed to provide a service to men. I cannot remember taking joy in being a little girl.

    My oldest daughter is 3 today and she is brilliant. She wears dresses and pants at the same time. She shakes her butt and makes fart noises. She plays with cars and dolls. She climbs and jumps and roars like a lion. I love watching her enjoy her childhood.

    Also, hurray for vaccines!

  151. zev August 12, 2013 at #

    at 6 i was a girlish (if a little muddy) girl and loving it. funny now that i’m a queerish boy, but i was happy at the time and i’m happy now, so who cares! love the vaccination drive!

    • LD August 16, 2013 at #

      I love this: “but i was happy at the time and i’m happy now, so who cares!”

      Absolutely perfect.

  152. Erin August 12, 2013 at #

    Such a fascinating perspective, and thank you for sharing it – and for what you’re doing for Shot@Life!

  153. Andrea B (@goodgirlgonered) August 13, 2013 at #

    Our children are the same age. My daughter finished Kindergarten and gears up for first grade and I wonder how things will be for her. She’s a girlie girl, in that she loves dresses and tiaras and princesses and Barbies. And maybe she’s not so much so, in that she loves bugs and dirt and worms and spiders and mud and messes, and have I mentioned bugs? And why is that not girlie? I don’t know. It just becomes tom-boy-ish in many a mind, maybe because when I was a child if you climbed trees (I didn’t, I grew up in Brooklyn) or played stickball (I did, again, Brooklyn) you were boyish? I don’t know. My girl is a perfect mix. A perfect blend. Just as your boy sounds to be. I think our kids would be fast friends, because mine would go for the butterfly tattoo, too, but she’d be that scrappy girl your son loves playing with. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. And striking something in me that made me write my own mini-post here.

    • LD August 16, 2013 at #

      So much appreciated.

      No doubt, one of the reasons we grown-ups who are fascinated and captivated by kids are so fascinated and captivated is that they remind us of what humans can be like before they’re too altogether culturally molded, and how much we all were (and inside, still are) more “both/and” than “either/or.”

  154. Leonie Robertson August 17, 2013 at #

    Love the vaccination campaign – love your story.

  155. Lucy Ann August 18, 2013 at #

    I was an introvert happy in my world of books where you could imagine you could be anything you wanted to be.
    Your entry is a well written and your sentence about a non linear scale to measure should be applicable to everything. As a non-linear thinker I arrive at the place I want to be just in a different way than others

  156. Shannon Des Roches Rosa August 19, 2013 at #

    How reassuring that he’ll have unequivocal support & love as he defines his own path. How many of us, how many of our friends could have used parents like you. Thank you letting us have a peek into just how wonderful your family is.

  157. Jon Armstrong August 20, 2013 at #

    Love this post, this in particular: “He wants a pen far more than he wants a sword, though he knows how to brandish both.”

    Love!

  158. Lesley August 25, 2013 at #

    Gotta join the love for the Shot@life! campaign. What an awesome idea and what a fantastic post. I was a fairly girly girl but I was also more into animals than barbies and love dungarees just as much as skirts. then again I’ve also always been indecisive about little things so both/and always appealed a lot more than either/or.

  159. lynda @MommyPowers August 28, 2013 at #

    Thanks for sharing your story! Every child matters!

  160. Dolly Navina Lakra August 29, 2013 at #

    Beautiful !

  161. Ann August 30, 2013 at #

    Great post, great photo, great cause!

  162. Stacy August 30, 2013 at #

    At six I was such a little tomboy who loved to play marbles in the sandbox at school.

  163. Melissa August 30, 2013 at #

    I was a more tomboyish girl. My son at 2.5 is drawn to anything super hero or power rangers, no matter how much I try to pull him away. He loves sports, and diggers and trains and cars. But he also loves singing and dancing and telling stories.

  164. Steph August 31, 2013 at #

    Thank you. Great cause!

  165. sean ishum September 1, 2013 at #

    I don’t remember much about 6 but I think it was a good time.

  166. Al Denelsbeck September 1, 2013 at #

    Interesting read! At six, I was still a ‘boyish’ boy, long before getting soured on the rampant machismo of middle and high school in a rural area. Let’s hope he avoids that kind of culture and can do what he wants.

    Thanks for supporting Shot@Life!

  167. Colleen September 1, 2013 at #

    Great post! I’m pretty sure I was a tomboyish girl at 6. I tried to follow my big brother’s example :] Thanks for being a part of Shot@Life!

  168. melanie September 6, 2013 at #

    At 6, I was bookish and quiet and shy, and my son was bookish but energetic and loud and social. Weirdly different, but at least we share books.

  169. Alina September 6, 2013 at #

    A lovely boy, the one you got!

  170. Sinclair September 22, 2013 at #

    Wow, so many comments. Glad to see people are taking you up on the UNF offer to vaccinate. (I do understand that some parents are against vaccination, but as I’m not a parent myself, I haven’t weighed the options and don’t know the pro/con arguments.)

    Mostly what I wanted to comment on was, holy shit he’s SIX?! wow. I remember him so little, two three, and now he’s twice that. Amazing how time works.

    Me at six … I was a bit of a tomboy, refusing to wear anything but dresses to school, disliking how pants made that swishing sound between my legs when I walked. Dresses were free-er, somehow. I had to wear snowpants under my dresses in the winter but it was still better than walking to school in pants. Growing up unconventionally in weather and gender meant many bent rules, I don’t remember anyone ever calling me a tomboy but it was maybe about 6 I started realizing I didn’t really “fit in,” whatever that was. Whatever was “cool” started being not me. A turning point year, probably.

    Amazing how delicate young systems are. Vaccinations and medical care, thank you for that little sidenote paragraph. Fortunate that he has been more healthy than not, that he has recovered from everything.

    I love following your family and blog, thanks for writing & sharing.

  171. LG October 22, 2013 at #

    At 6 I was a tomboy who occasionally liked to dress up in my mother’s “gowns” and put too much red lipstick on. That still describes me now, I’d say, 32 years later. And my son is a beautiful, gentle 3 year old who wears dresses everyday – to school, the park, to bed. Literally all the time. Unless he’s naked (at home). He walks in heels (mine – which would collect dust if it weren’t for him) better than I do (only at home or around the block – they’re impractical, after all). My husband and I are awed by him. He is, in his words, “a boy who likes to wear dresses.” He notices the beauty in the world. And I think he adds to it.
    Thank you for this blog. I also hope that the world becomes a place where the “landscape of boy (and girl) will be so multi-dimensional that measurement on a linear scale will barely even make sense.” May we all make it so.

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