29 Oct 2010

Role Play

15 Comments Toddler

Garrett is three-years-old and already he has ideas about girls and boys.

When we were potty training him, he picked out all of this super-hero-themed underwear. He got Ironman, Batman, Spiderman, and a little Spongebob and Diego thrown in. I never thought of it as a “boy” thing. It was just the underwear he wanted. A couple nights ago, we were both getting in our PJ’s, and I was standing there in my underwear and a t-shirt. “Are those Princess underwear?”, he asked. “Nope”, I said, “Just regular underwear.” “Oh”, he said, “Daddy should buy you some Princess underwear.”

Now, while I found the fact that my son thought I deserve Princess Panties to be insanely adorable, I also found it a tad puzzling and odd. Where had he even heard of princess underwear? Why does he think I need them? Why does he think Daddy is the one who should buy them for me? Doesn’t he know I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan (while wearing princess undies?) Side note: I’ve been asking my husband to buy me lingerie for 13 years. I will blog next week about the outcome of THAT!

Here’s the other part. Garrett and I were driving somewhere last week and I was “interviewing” him. “What’s your favorite color?” Green. “What’s your favorite animal?” T-Rex. “What’s your favorite food?” Pancakes.  Then he interviewed me. “What’s YOUR favorite color, Mom?” I said my favorite is orange. “No it’s NOT”, he says, “It’s PINK!” I told him I actually am not very fond of pink at all, and my favorite color is, in fact, orange. “It’s PINK!”, he said again.  I asked him if he thought every girl loves pink and he said, “Yep!”

Hmmmm…. Where is this coming from? Is this just an innate feeling that he has? Girls love pink and princesses and boys love superheroes, dinosaurs, and guns?  Am I only bothered by it because as a girl, I HATED dresses, barbies, and dolls with a PASSION?

I showed up at Garrett’s pot luck Halloween party at his preschool this morning.  (I brought along my homemade mac and cheese, but that’s not important. I just desperately want you to think I’m a very committed mom.) Guess what? All the friggin boys were superheroes, vampires, and Woody from Toy Story. The girls? Princesses, butterflies, and Jessie from Toy Story. Most of the girls were wearing some version of a pink tutu over their costumes. Do we put these labels on our kids? Or do they put them on themselves? We don’t make Garrett feel like he can’t like dolls, or watch Dora, or that he only has to drink out of blue cups. But I guess I do buy him shirts with footballs and dinosaurs all over them. And these girls are probably being bought pink shit all the time. Garrett just gravitates toward the more “rough and tumble” stuff.

So what does all this mean? Is it a bad thing? Is it normal? I like that Garrett is such a “boy”, but I don’t want him to ever feel like he can’t be sensitive, or caring, or that he can’t wear bright colors! (By the way, there’s NO SHORTAGE of him being sensitive and caring). And I don’t want him to pigeon-hole every girl into being a princess-loving damsel in distress. I guess we’ll work it out, one annoying stereotype at a time.

And I’m STILL wondering how he knows about princess underwear! It’s those preschool tramps, isn’t it? I knew it.

Tell me your gender-role stories. Are your kids falling into the typical boy/girl stereotypes? What were you like as a kid?

05 Oct 2010

Potty Training

5 Comments Toddler

Oh. Dear. God.

Isn’t it odd that humans have to teach baby humans how to use the bathroom?  I mean, animals just go.  They pee and poo wherever they want to from the time they’re born until they die.  But not us.  We do our business in a diaper until someone decides it’s time for us to put our business in a cold, white, porcelain receptacle so it can be flushed away into the mighty sea.  And then we end up in diapers again, but that’s another story.

We started potty training Garrett when he was two-and-a-half.  He had all the signs of being ready; holding his urine for long periods of time, waking up with a dry diaper, telling us he was peeing or pooing, and even occasionally using the potty.  We watched Elmo’s Potty Time religiously, read Once Upon a Potty about twice a day, and even watched this silly video that seemed to entertain him over and over again.   So, based on a good friend’s suggestion, we picked a weekend and decided not to leave the house for at least 48 hours.  We gave Garrett the Spiderman underwear he had recently picked out, and told him we were done with diapers.  Then the horror music started and we had one of the worst weekends ever.

Garrett was terrified to use the bathroom.  He hated the whole concept.  There seemed to be a fear of losing control, of growing up, of us no longer taking care of him… My happy boy turned into a fearful, sad mess. I cried a lot.  He cried a lot.  We held each other.  I punched a wall.  He kept asking if I was going to leave him. It was hell.  He used the potty the whole time, but I could see all of his security being flushed down the toilet with his poo-poo and pee-pee.

Although physically ready, Garrett was clearly not emotionally ready, so I made the decision (with only about 55% approval from my husband), to put him back in diapers.  As soon as we did it, I was scared I made the wrong choice.  Surely he’ll NEVER use the toilet now!  I’m the worst mom ever!  He’s going to be doing calculus with a full diaper!  Then I thought, “Who am I kidding?  Garrett’s never going to do calculus!  I failed algebra II twice!”  Seriously though, I was scared that we had emotionally scarred our son and that he was never going to be able to use the bathroom like a normal person.  I even scoured the internet and found thousands of posts from moms saying their kids were three, four and five and still terrified of using the potty.  Cue horror music again.

Okay, here comes the good part. Read more