My Dear Little Boy,
I’ve already seen the trouble starting.
It happened a few weeks ago in a children’s clothing store when the woman working behind the counter overheard you begging me to buy you a pair of lavender skinny jeans. You were too busy holding them up to yourself and twirling around, so you didn’t notice the saleswoman’s sigh and you didn’t see her roll her eyes, but I did and it hurt. Because you see, little guy, those pants were on the shelf of clothing intended only for little girls but you didn’t realize that. You just saw your favorite color and knew those were the ones you wanted. What’s worse is that the saleswoman isn’t the only person who will act exasperated at your color preference. And someday you will inevitably notice the way people react to you just being who you are and it might make you feel bad about yourself.
Unfortunately, I know of other little boys who once loved purple or pink but then they started going to daycare or preschool and quickly switched their favorite color to something more comfortable for a boy to like. Now those little boys claim that they love orange or blue or green. But that’s not you. I hope you know this and stick by the person that you really are.
It is my biggest hope that instead of changing to fit a specific mold, you will instead simply stand up for the things you love.
I hope that you will be the one to show everyone that a little boy can love both purple and dump trucks. Kisses and “elbow fights.” Sparkles and dinosaurs. Headbands and cargo shorts. No, this isn’t an equation in which one side balances out the other, this is simply adding everything up and at the end of it is you. You, the little boy that I love with the grimy face and nail polish chipped from playing in the sandbox. You, who are so perfect in your complete lack of self-consciousness.
I think that part of the reason you are so carefree is that so far in your three and a half years of life no one has tried to tell you what it means to be a boy. It’s been intentional. Your father and I both believe that it doesn’t really matter if a child likes trucks or ponies or Legos.
What matters to us is simply that you accept yourself, love yourself, and stand by who you are.
Right now, you are just you. You aren’t so influenced by popular culture or popular classmates. But I know that as you grow, these days of being blissfully oblivious are going to come to an end. And I just want to hold you close to me and whisper in your ear that I love your happy skipping prancing run and not all boys need to walk with a macho swagger. I want to tell you that some things that might make you seem weird or different from most other people can also end up becoming your greatest strength.
So, as you go out into the world, I have this wish for you:
Hold on to your sparkle, kid.
(This piece first appeared on BurlingtonVT Moms Blog)