Tuesday, May 7, 2013

That's just for girls

I took Button to the doctor yesterday and while we were waiting I saw something that made me sad and a little angry. A lady was there with her 4 kids. She had two bigger boys maybe 7 and 4, a little girl around 2 or 3 and a newborn baby. The baby and the girl were in a double stroller while the bigger boys sat in the chairs. The little girl had a doll with a bottle. I was people watching as we sat and waited while Button amused herself with a Cheerio snack. The 7 year old boy had picked up the doll and was pretending to feed it. I thought it was cute. He settled the doll in and got the bottle ready when his mom noticed him. "Don't do that," she said. "That is for girls." He tried to explained that he was pretending he was the daddy. She told him no. He tried 3 different ways to justify to her why he should be allowed to play caregiver to this doll. She keep telling him no, that boys don't do that. Meanwhile she was bottle feeding her baby and I think the little boy was just trying to emulate her in  a way. Bub went through a brief phase after Button was born of trying to care for a doll that he has because it was all we were doing at the time.

I wanted to ask her then how she felt about my husband being Button's primary caregiver. That he, in fact, changes her diapers and gives her a bottle and puts her down for a nap every single day. That he bottle feed Bub when needed and changed his diaper. In other words, he acts like a parent. So I wondered how much of the "work" these children's father did. Is he one of those guys whose sons only do "boy things?" Are they never allowed to put on their mom's shoes when they are 2 and gender stereotyping is not really a thing that you should do at that age? Bub use to try out my shoes and the only thing I ever worried about is him breaking a leg. I felt no need to hem him into his gender at the age of 2 or 3 or 4. I don't even do it now at the age of 6. Society takes care of that for him and it is a little sad. So I was sad for this boy and angry at his mother. I wonder if she knows the lesson that she just taught him. I wonder if this boy is going to grow up to be one of those dads who never does anything for the baby, who doesn't do diapers, and whose wife complains that she is stuck doing everything. Maybe I am generalizing too far. But I watched that little boy try his best to just pretend to feed a baby doll and be shut down by his mother again and again and it just wasn't right.

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