During the reader survey someone commented that they loved hearing about how I am raising a feminist son. It was an interesting statement because it doesn’t feel pointed? Me raising a son who values me as much as he values his dad? Raising a son who values and respects women as intellectual equals, as people who have rights over their bodies and are not owned, theoretically or otherwise, by anyone just seems… normal? But then again, it is hard to escape those small social pressures that all build up to placing boys and girls in neat little colored boxes.
Traveling with a toddler is rough. Depending on your toddler the traveling itself can be the hardest part, but with Gabe that is not the case. He is awesome on planes, and he mostly sleeps in cars, and he is generally a pretty good sport about it all. The hardest part for us is the amount of STUFF involved in traveling with a todder. With a small child they can carry some of their things and they can sleep in beds and they can poop in the toilet. With toddlers, none of that is true.
So in prep for our trip to Maine we decided to get an umbrella stroller which is a fraction of the weight of our already very lite big stroller. It would be easier in crowded places and less of an inconvenience in restaurants, etc. Overall it seemed like a really great investment and – spoiler alert – it is! It was! It has been! Two thumbs up for umbrella stroller usage.
When Kamel went to get pick out the stroller I was home with Gabe so Kamel texted me photos of the strollers available. Some of them had random patterns, some of them had themes. Some of the random patterns were really loud and made me twitch. So Kamel took pictures of two of the themes. One was a really awesome green/yellow/truck themed stroller. The other was a purple/pink/fish themed stroller. I asked Kamel if the fish one came in any other colors, because as much as I am pro all the things that are not blue, I do have some reservations (which annoy me, these reservations annoy me… but I’m talking real talk here, so there it is) about putting gabe in overtly “girly” things just to make a statement, or even seemingly to make a statement. I’m not putting Gabe in a tutu, for example. And not because I am opposed to boys in tutus, but because Gabe doesn’t want to be a princess or a fairy or a fairy princess (like I did, every year for Halloween, except for that one time I was a pumpkin). I will put him in dance classes when he turns 2 because he never stops dancing and if he wants to be a prima ballerina then I am supporting the shit out of that.
Anyways, back to the point of my story. There were no other fish themed strollers.
The thing is, Gabe loves fish. He loves them hard. We watched Finding Nemo about 5000 times just in the 5 days we were in Maine. He also loves dinosaurs and anything he considers a “ball.” He does not like trucks or trains or boats or super heroes. He just really likes fish.
So we bought the stroller with the hot pink straps and the purple fish pattern and it is SO GABE and he loves to push it around the house and he was so excited when we brought it home, pointing and saying “fish,” fish,” fish,” fish” on repeat.
I want to raise a son who is cool with My Little Pony. I also want to be honest about who he is. If he doesn’t LOVE My Little Pony, I’m not going to make him watch it just to break the gender norm. But I’m going to watch it with him in the mean time because that show is amazing. We also watch a lot of Dinosaur Train and aquarium videos on YouTube.
The color pink does not grow vaginas.
Trucks are not boy toys.
Colors and hobbies and likes/dislikes are not reserved for one gender over another. But it is so easy to fall into that world. It is the easy way. It is hard to check my own little gender stereotypes at the door and advocate a fish stroller for my kid. And ya know what? Gabe probably would have been just fine in the truck stroller. I mean, it’s a stroller… so really this story is about me practicing advocating for my son. But! I bet he wouldn’t have been as excited with the truck stroller as he was about it the pink/purple/fish stroller. I bet it would have just been another stroller picked out by mom and dad.
Gabe is going to be who he is going to be, and I’m going to try and figure out constructive directions to point his interests. And as a parenting technique I make a conscience effort to not label things “girly” or “for boys” or whatever. The world is going to try to stuff him in a tiny box at some point or another. He will be labeled and assessed and peer pressured. I’m going to TRY and leave my sphere of influence in the realm of “be a good person, trust your gut, make positive life choices.” I mean, I’ll probably fuck him up in tiny ways as well, nobody’s perfect, but at least my intentions are well meaning.