This morning Munchkin tore out of her room waving a "Thomas the Tank Engine" shirt she wanted to wear. I said, "That's your brother's! It's too big for you." "No it's not." Monkey chimed in, "That shirt is size 2T. She can wear it!" I hesitated for a minute. The shirt was not one of my favorites. It also had short sleeves and it's chilly outside. But for some reason, I--who consider myself to be tomboyish and casual--didn't like the shirt as much because it was distinctly boyish. There wasn't a hint of femininity to it and I preferred she wear something else. However, she liked the shirt and since it was clean, there really was no objection I felt comfortable giving to the kids. Munchkin then pulled out a pair of tights so I ended up looking for a dress or skirt to wear over them. As I tugged a denim dress over her shirt, the sleeves peeked out, but Thomas and his fellow Really Useful Engines were hidden behind colorful buttons and cute cap sleeves. There, I thought, a perfect mix of femininity and boyishness. Then I thought, Here I go again. Again I was thinking that it's not okay for my little girl to just be feminine, nor just masculine, but a mix of both.
Like many soon-to-be-five-year-olds, Monkey has long had a fascination with Spider-Man. When Monkey isn't making up stories about him, he pretends to be Spider-Man, saving the world one play session at a time. On the way home from school one day, Monkey asked me if people could really climb walls like Spider-Man does. As a former rock climber, I've seen a number of people scaling walls to incredible heights so I told him that there are rock climbers who can do some of what Spider-Man does. When I got home, I logged onto youtube and found a video of an incredible eleven-year-old girl, Brooke Raboutou, rock climbing. Together, with Munchkin, we watched the short documentary that followed Brooke into the rock climbing gym and her home, where she strengthened every part of her body, down to her fingers. The video presented Monkey the opportunity not just to see a kid climbing a wall like Spider-Man, but to see how hard she worked and the effort she put into becoming a pint-sized expert in her sport.
Patricia is a part-time working mom with a 7-year-old son (Monkey) and 4-year-old daughter (Munchkin). She thinks passing judgment on other parents comes easy, so why not (politely) pass judgement on GMvBM?