It’s early, it’s dark it’s raining and I’m just too tired to crack open a book, opting instead to look at the window and strain to listen to any conversation on the bus. Not that there’s much-it’s 7am and people can barely muster the will to move towards a seat, let alone cobble together a coherent sentence. I should know. I fell over twice just getting out of bed.
There’s always this one woman who rides the bus-put together in the 1987 way of thinking-shoulder pads, oddly heeled boots, and a full crust of pancake makeup that I can see the cracks in 10 seats away. Her lipstick just can’t keep up, and she’s rather sponge like as the foundation heaves and falls as she speaks, like a busy road during the winter freeze and thaw cycles. I find myself frequently starring at her in awe, especially her over coiffed hair which totters like a scared child on her head. There’s womanhood, and then there’s Bundyhood. She strains the bonds of each.
But what catches me today, as I’m sniffing from the cold and wiping away the early morning leaky eye, is her conversation. Namely, one sentence.
“Oh, boys are just DIFFERENT. Girls like all the same things are easy to figure out. Boys? Well…”
I was struck then, with how bloody offensive that sentence is to, well, just about everyone.
Sure I don’t have boys. I have two girls. But are any two children ever the same? Are girls the same? One daughter of mine loves dinosaurs, insects, Bakugan, Ben 10…things mostly considered “boy”toys if you have the misfortune of buying a happy meal. Rosalyn, the youngest-very pink, loves Barbie, Care Bears, My Little Pony, princesses, playing with dollhouses. Traditional “girl” toys.
They ARE different. As your daughter or son is from you, from me. My children have complete opposite in temperment, and again, Vivian is more masculine, Rosalyn feminine, at least in how the world defines it. I make a point of not doing so. Toys at McDonalds are not “girl”or boy”-it’s the car toy or the kitty toy. We don’t refer to what Vivian likes as boy toys-it makes no sense, since she’s not a boy and she loves them. Vivian is very much mad then over it, as I’ve heard others attribute to their boys in the past, Rosalyn, well, she’ll be the kid in grade school that remembers exactly when you tripped her in the hall in Grade 6 when she’s 25. Rosalyn gets so vividly angry or happy…
The point is-there is no singular, defining moment for gender. We can’t point and say “yup. That’s a girl”. I have two who are so vastly different some days that I wonder where they came from and how they can be so much themselves. But that’s just it-they are themselves. I was told constantly to be more “ladylike” to stop acting like a boy, and in one inspired moment, to keep my shirt on, girls don’t run around without one. Girls wear skirts. Girls don’t wear black.
I’m who I am-not because I wore skirts, and not because my mother had a rigid view of gender. I am, inherently, who I am. Sometimes I’m difficult. Sometimes, I’m not. Just like my daughters.
This constant way we, as a society have of minimizing, making everything common and grouped, like a herd of antelope startled-it bothers me. A child is never him or herself. He’s such a BOY. She’s so girly. She’s just like her mother. He’s acting just like his father did at that age.
Regardless of any of it being true. We must fold our children into small shapes, until they fit. We must never allow them the freedom of themselves.
It was early, but I felt sad. I felt sad for this little boy, judged before action, framed in the perception of a stranger’s eye, now marked, ever so slightly, in the eye of his mother.
If we aren’t accepted, even there, what then?