It would appear littly has also been reading up on the subject. Take the last 24 hours for instance.
At nursery the theme of the week has been pixies and fairies. Thursday was dress up day. In a moment of madness (not even wine induced) I decided, after a day at work, to fashion something pixie like for him to wear. By the time I started it was 8:30pm. Various parts of the sewing machine (which hadn't been used since the move) had to be located. A bobbin had to be wound (of course, that damn song was then lodged in my brain for the rest of the evening) and the needle had to be replaced. But eventually we had one red, embellished robe which positively screamed "Goblin King". Honestly.
At nursery the next day littly was more than happy to model his new outfit. As he twirled around the room in his robe, and the crown he'd made the previous day, clutching the dolly he had extracted with great, loving care from the cot in the "home corner", it was clear gender stereotyping was the furthest thing from his mind. Happy as Larry in a mish mash of genres and roles, my son, my boy was happy just to play. To take part. To laugh.
Fast forward to this morning. We'd signed him up for a trial session with Scrum Kids - mini "rugby" for the uninitiated. At 09:00 in the college sports hall an assortment of littlies (boys and girls) were doing an altogether different type of twirling - one which involved sponge rugby balls instead of dollies and lots, LOTS of shouting. It was mayhem. Chaos to the nth degree. Instructions were issued and dutifully ignored. Relays turned into stampedes akin to British Bulldog. Kicking attempts resulted in a blitz of balls everywhere. Looking across the hall at him, running and laughing with Daddy, I saw again that happiness to be involved. To be taking part. To be playing and having fun.
It's true. Society does often try to pigeon hole children into gender defined roles. But, and here's the flaw in society's plan, children don't naturally buy in to it. They want to try it all -give everything 10 minutes of their limited attention span. Sometimes this takes the route of conformity, sometimes it doesn't. As parents we owe it to them to support this exploration and approach it all with the same unbridled joy they do.
*this could just as easily been called "raising girls", but I have a boy. Substitute as appropriate.