Monday, February 10, 2014

Mairzy doats and bowsy doats

Would you let your son go to school wearing a bow in his hair?

This morning Jordan started sobbing because Nick took the bow out of his hair and told him he couldn't wear it to school.

He doesn't actually care about the bow - he's worried about teasing.

Jordan has gone to school with nail polish and with bead necklaces. In fact, he has red beads on today. He has on a shirt with various shades of purple and an orange pocket.

Last night we'd gotten hair bows for India, because her messyhairdon'tcare is always in her eyes now. I don't want to cut it. I love the mullet. But she's been opposed to bows.

We went off to get some of the clippy kind that a friend of hers has.

So we chose a few and talked them up. "Ohh! A bow! With dots! So pretty!"

But you know, there's nothing comparable for boys. Boys don't get to wear sparkles or adornment or really much of anything fun or frivolous, as far as I can tell.  The older he gets, the less fun his clothes are.

So Jordan immediately wanted us to put one in his hair as well. I did. He loved it. He said he was going to wear it to school the next day.

I was fine with it. Nick was not.

Nick and I talked about it and Nick said he wasn't going to let him. "He can't. People will tease him."

My thought was, let him. If other kids tease him, he'll either take it out and decide he doesn't want to, or he won't care.

He loves adornment. He notices what I wear, what Nana wears, and he compiments us. "Oh, Mama! I like your dress!" "Nana! You look so cute!"

It's adorable.

Yesterday afternoon I came downstairs wearing jeans and a sweater and boots, and Jordan said, "I want to change before we go out! I want to wear something cute, too!"

Now, I'd worked out and had thrown on jeans and a turtleneck sweater that was in the pile to be hand-washed. I hadn't sweated a whole lot, because our back room is cold, but let's be honest: I was none too clean to begin with.

I'd washed my feet, however. I don't know how you feel about this, but I hate putting sweaty feet into shoes or getting in bed with unwashed feet.

But I said we were only going to Target, and his outfit was totally cute, and mine was the same thing I'd had on earlier and look, I still had on my workout shirt underneath!

Thus mollified, we left without changing.

But later, Nick said, "I can tell you for a fact that I never asked to change into something cute when I was a kid."

I comment on apparel a lot - I love clothing, I love shoes, I love sparkly, flowery things, and I am always all, "Oh, that's so cute! I LOVE your sparkles! I LOVE your boots!" etc etc.

It's not that I don't say these things to Jordan: he has a dragon hoodie that I wish they made in my size. I LOVE the dragon. But like I said, for the most part, the boy clothes aren't ooh-and-ahh-worthy.

I don't know how to think about this. Should I stop talking about appearance? Oohing and ahhing over cute clothing? (Can I? Clothing and shoes are among my favorite things?) I don't want to start telling him that boys typically wear this and girls typically wear that.

It is true in terms of bows and nail polish and tutus, yes, it's true, but he's only four. I think he should wear them as much as he wants to.

I do think wearing the bow would be fine.

What do you think?


  1. I love a little boy who can have fun dressing up, even if it's in girl's clothing. In my mind, it's a sign of a confident little kid who likes to have fun and understands the value of accessorizing. The first time I picked V up from a playdate at her "future husband's" house, I knew I loved him because he came running out of his bedroom in a princess dress, along with his sister and V! Now he's in second grade and all the girls in 1st and Kindergarten are in love with him!

    1. This is a fantastic phrase: understands the value of accessorizing! I love it!

      One of the dads on the playground once said Jordan reminds him of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and I liked that. He's very much his own little person. And he does like to have fun and to dress up. We haven't done any delineation of girl vs. boy clothing. He loves truck and car and superhero shirts, and isn't interested in flowered or ruffled clothing (except the tutus) - he just likes the extras that India has. I think if we had hair accessories that had things like monster trucks on them, he'd think they were magic.

      And girls do like him - he apparently has a couple girls who plan to marry him (and have no idea that he plans to marry India now that Nick has informed him that Mama is already married). One of them told her mom that she's going to marry Jordan and another girl they were in daycare with and the three of them are going to live in her parents' house.

  2. Let him be who he is. I know it's easier for those of us with girls to just let them wear what they want, but I think you are right. Society will "get to" him soon enough. Sadly, kids learn very early what's "expected."

    1. That's what my friend Maude said. Her son loved pink and hair rollers and heels and then in Kindergarten he started learning what's expected for boys to like and what to avoid. Kindergarten! So young!

  3. This would be hard to figure out. I think because he is only four he hasn't got a clue whats ahead in the teasing dept. But I would let him do it. I might tell him though that some people big and little might say things about it that might hurt his feelings. That he cant get in a fight over it and if he feels bad he can talk it over with you and Nick and Nana and teacher. But I have adored the way you let him be who he is. And That is YOUR child. That's who he is. Don't let the world change all that too soon. It will come. And right now he is totally in your circle. Don't push him out. I promise he'll be in that other group any day now and you'll miss that innocent boy who loved everything you love. If he gets on the bus headed for college with a bow in his hair....that might be the time to worry. Or not.

    1. After thinking about this today and taking all these comments into consideration, I think that next time he asks, I'll just say yes, and I'm not going to bring anything up with him. He did ask this morning why Daddy said no, and I said because usually it's girls who wear bows in their hair. We left it at that. So if it comes up again, likelihood is that he'll ask about it. But if he doesn't, I'm just going to let him go and see what happens.

      If he heads off to college with a bow in his hair, it'll be because that's how he wants to express himself and he'll have the confidence to do so! And I'll be delighted that he's that comfortable with himself!

  4. Let him wear the bow while he still can! In a few years he won't be able to anymore because of criticism from other kids... I don't think it's such an issue yet at age four like it is when you're a teen, is it?

    1. I think at age four he's pretty safe, but I was worried about the kids with older siblings, because they're the ones who have biases. Like, one of his friends (who has an older brother) came over one day for lunch and I poured them both milk without thinking about cup colors. Jordan never cares, or prefers pink. But his friend specifically asked if I could replace his pink or orange (can't remember) cup with a blue one.

  5. Let him wear the bow while he still can! In a few years he won't be able to anymore because of criticism from other kids... I don't think it's such an issue yet at age four like it is when you're a teen, is it?

  6. I think do whatever feels right for your family, but I personally would try to stop complimenting clothes and focus on other things like being a hard worker, helping people, doing well in school...

    1. One of my friends, a single mom to an older boy and a very girly-girl, commented on FB, "Jordan's going to be who he is regardless of who you are - I oooh and aaah over clothes too and Joe's never picked it up. And Joe doesn't also have a (more) masculine influence in the house."

      I think what I've come to is, we are who we are.

      It's not like we don't talk about things other than clothing - we certainly talk about the importance of working hard, of trying and not quitting, and about kindness, etc etc. But Jordan has fantastic color sense - you see it in his paintings and his coloring - and he definitely appreciates color and shape and pattern. Which of course resonates with me.

  7. oh and I would let him wear what he wants :)

    1. I will! :)

      (And I COULD talk about clothes all day. Or shoes. I would love to work for Zappos.)

  8. As a former preschool teacher I worked in a few different locations with very different mentalities on this. One place was all about the free-spirited children and we had a little boy who was only allowed to express himself with dresses, accessories, and pink at school. We made sure he had the space to do so in a safe place (since at home, that was NOT an option). Another school I worked for, pulled those kids aside to try to get them to understand the expectations of boys and girls. And while the teachers tried to do this to protect the children they inadvertantly set up a space where the other kids also tried to "correct" the different kids.

    So I guess my advice is make sure he has a safe space to be 4 year old Jordan - wherever that may be. At home, at school, at Target location surely doesn't matter as much as the safe part. If the teachers at school will (good-heartdedly and completely out of love) pull him aside to let him know of his faux paux, then that's not an ideal safe space. And even if he wants to wear bows in elementary, middle, high school, or beyond, a safe space will always be a requirement for a healthy Jordan. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Thank you for a teacher's perspective on this. That's interesting, and I think your mention of a safe space is important. His teacher now would definitely just let Jordan be Jordan, and wouldn't tell him that he "should" or "should not" wear something. And the littles at his school have their own area and playground, so they wouldn't be mixing it up with the bigger kids who might say things.

      For the most part, Jordan is a stereotypical BOY: he loves all kinds of vehicles, and his preferred toys are monster trucks, fire trucks, garbage trucks, race cars, and now Lego, with which he builds...trucks! He will turn anything into a gun, which he certainly didn't learn from us. He wants to watch Ninjago. He wants to crash into everything. He has light-up spiderman sneakers. He loves that he has a red and grey jacket just like his dad.

      But! He also loves sparkle, color, bling, accessories. He gets jealous that India has all these fun extras. Or he just sees sparkle, and like a magpie, he makes a beeline for it. Bead necklaces are awesome! Can he wear them? Tutus! Look at this fun! How come she gets these colorful things for her hair? Can he have some?

      I do think that as he ages and learns about societal expectations, these things will fall by the wayside.

      I assume that since we haven't drawn any lines, he hasn't either. They both wear the tutus with Jordan's fireman or construction hats. While cooking in the toy kitchen or riding the toy backhoe. And during one cookout last summer, we had a whole bunch of nail colors out on our deck and one of our neighbors let Jordan paint his toenails orange. So J has no sense that men do not wear polish on their nails.

      It's just...socially acceptable for girls to don boy stuff (oh, cute! she's a tomboy!), and so not for boys to wear girly things. Nick doesn't care what he dons at home, or in Target, for that matter. He just had this knee-jerk what if the kids at school tease? reaction today.

  9. He'll wear the bow, he'll get teased, or he wont. He will then either take it out or formulate some witty comeback but while he is young enough to enjoy the fun of frivolity let him. I always said to my boy when he was younger " Dance to the beat of your own drum Ben and join the struggle against normality, be your own person not the person someone wants you to be. Ok that came back and bit me in the bum when I was trying to make him into what I wanted him to be but I learnt to practice what I had preached.

  10. I really applaud your attitude. I don't have children but I can understand your husband's feelings that your son may be teased and may feel hurt. I don't really understand how it's acceptable for girls to be tomboys, but not for boys to be janegirls (just made that up). We have 3 great nephews and the oldest seems to like fairies and princesses. His middle brother was teased for having glasses that made his eyes look enormous and my husband said that maybe his older brother could sprinkle some fairy dust or hit the bully with his magic wand (to be funny). I say let them be who they are, at what age do you lose your innocence and learn the so-called norm? You are a good mom.

  11. I would say to Nick - Jordan is not a mini-Nick just as India is not a mini-Lisa, they are their own little beings trying to find their way in the world. I agree they both need a safe space to just be themselves, they might surprise you and that's not a bad thing!!

  12. I would say to Nick - Jordan is not a mini-Nick just as India is not a mini-Lisa, they are their own little beings trying to find their way in the world. I agree they both need a safe space to just be themselves, they might surprise you and that's not a bad thing!!


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