As usual the wonderful ladies out there in the blogisphere got me inspired. First it was Ilina over at Dirt and Noise who wrote an awesome post called Boys Like Pink Too, which reminded me of Cynthia’s post over at Sugar Mamma called Boys in Dresses. Which is basically the long way around of saying that Max really wanted a blue sparkly Cinderella costume for Halloween.
Why then did he end up with a Batman costume you ask? Well to be honest, it was a somewhat soul crushing moment for me and I didn’t know how to fix it.
It was some weekend about a month before Halloween, when Judd had had quite enough of the kids thank you. So I decided to bribe them with Halloween costume shopping and I figured if I dragged them around to a bunch of stores before I just took them to Target, it would fill two important purposes. 1) it would take up a bunch of time and 2) would keep them motivated, hopefully in a good mood because of the promise of the perfect Halloween costume at the end of the proverbial - please just sedate me - shopping trip rainbow.
It pretty much worked. They wrinkled their little noses and shook their heads at ninjas, pirates, various fleece-stuffed animals, including a crazy adorable bat which would have been my vote, all the while I was promising that yes Target had Batman and Superman and Transformers.
FINALLY we headed for Target. The kids were a little burnt out on shopping and were starting to loose steam so I let them ride in the cart. We pulled up in front of the isle long Max sized costume row and I asked what do you think? I pushed the cart slowly down the isle while Max looked over the selection carefully.
Suddenly his eyes light up, he smiled and pointed. “That one mommy!” I turned around and looked. “The yoda?” I asked, puzzled, holding it up. “No the blue sprinkley one.” I turned around again and saw a lovely little blue Cinderella dress. “This one?” I asked holding it up. He had a huge grin on his face and was nodding happily. “Okay.” I said just as Quinn busted out with “That’s for girls.” In that nasty, disapproving bigger, cooler kid voice when they are keeping the little people in their place.
I started at him, horrified for I am not sure how long before I told him that Max can wear any costume he wants and that if this is the one he likes, that is perfectly fine, there are no costumes just for boys or just for girls, and Max can pick anything he likes. Then Quinn looked at me a little less sure and pointed to the little Cinderella costume I was now clutching to my breast. “But that’s for girls.” No, I told him, it is a Halloween costume and anyone who wants to can wear it.
Then, I kid you not, he shruged his little shoulders and turned away from me while muttering “It’s for girls” under his breath. I turned to Max smiling and said “Okay, so lets get this one?” He shook his tiny little 3 year old head sadly and pointed to the Batman costume. The damage had already been done. His idol, his hero, his big brother had crushed his little heart’s desire.
Where did Quinn hear those things or get a sense of prejudice already at 5 years old running so deep that he apparently agreed to disagree with me on the subject? Certainly not in our house. And how to I counteract it? By my actions and my speech of course, but is that enough? I have to assume that he heard it from the kids at school or at soccer practice, but if our actions are not enough, then what is? Does this extend beyond gender rolls? We do now live in the South, but we just changed our state from red to blue, and we elected an African American Man to be president of the United States. Surely, my 3 year old should be able to wear whatever the heck he wants and not just on Halloween.
I hung both the Cinderella and the Batman costume on the cart and we finished our shopping. When it was time to check out, I held them both up and asked Max which one. He chose Batman, but that happy sparkle in his eye?… we left that behind at Target with the “sprinkley” Cinderella dress.
Happily, when I told Judd about it, he wanted to go back and get the dress anyway. We’ll add it to the costume box and he can wear it whenever he wants. Sadly I didn’t have the money right then and when I went back there weren’t any left.
I also had a talk with Quinn about the way he had made his comment and how it made Max feel bad and how that is not how we treat people, especially people we love. But I kind of got the feeling that all he heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wah Wha Wha Wha Wha Wha.
On a positive note, Max ended up really liking his Batman costume. Judd made cardboard accessories for the belt which I hot glue gunned to him. It also had fins on the sides of the arms. I told him “That’s awesome, you’re so aerodynamic you’ll run super fast!” I guess he was pretty psyched about that because later he ran up to me and said, “Mommy! I’m so aromatic in my Halloween costume, I’m even stronger than daddy!” What could I say? Of course I agreed.