It really started with Harry, my eldest son, who is eight years old. He was about 2 when it began and so was Dan. Dan was really just copying what Harry was doing.
We feel that role playing is important to creativity and growth. Dressing up has been a gradual progression for Dan. Wearing a skirt started as a dress up day for school, so my husband made him a skirt for that day.
He liked it and had fun, plus nobody bothered him so he felt comfortable to continue. Dressing up is something all kids enjoy doing. And so they should. Same goes if we had a daughter. Society tends to want to label people. When we do that, it changes who we are. Why would we want to do that? When our eldest Harry was in JK, we spoke to his teacher to let her know that he enjoyed dressing up and we were okay with that.
She let us know that her Boy tied up in girls clothes was an open free environment where you could be who you wanted to be. He did like to wear a hoodie on his head that was tied up in the back to look like a ponytail. He always wanted long hair so he would never take it off.
And … there was nail polish. He loved having his nails painted.
I loved that about him too. The teachers were very supportive but Harry let it all go in about the middle of the JK year. The boys were relentless with him, so much teasing, so he decided it was better just to wear his hoodie and nail polish at home.
That made him so sad. You could see it in his face.
It was hard on my husband and I. Here we were, trying to teach him to be himself: The kids were changing who he was.
But, in the end, it was his decision. Dan started the same way in JK. Wearing the same hoodie on his head and the nail polish. He was experimenting and they were wondering why?
Why does Dan wear nail polish? I thought only girls are allowed to do that. So many questions from all the kids. Were those questions answered at home?
For us, we got asked questions from our kids too. Dan had to explain a lot to the other kids, and the teachers helped him. That went on for a while.
He tends to play with dolls, or play house with the other kids. I admire him for that. The parents in the neighbourhood are great. We live in an amazing part of Toronto.
All sorts of families live in our hood. There are two-dad families, two-mom families, single-parent families and so on. Being a part of a warm, open, creative community is a big part of our values at home. Our neighbours are amazing and all of the parents really rally around each other. We feel lucky to be where we are. If you look around, for a moment, you might see other kids wearing superhero costumes at the park, or maybe their pajamas to a party, those are Boy tied up in girls clothes parents allowing their kids to choose what they wear outside the house.
My husband and I tend to have our own fears about what other kids will say. My husband said he had a moment of fear come over him as Dan was in pigtails and barrettes.
Will they make fun? I think we tend to underestimate our kids and how accepting they can be. That makes us happy. We have always warned our kids about people not understanding self-expression.
Especially when they were little. Little kids have lots of questions, because they are curious. My answer sort of took him by surprise. All I said was that rock stars like to wear nail polish and that one day Harry wanted to be one too.
He looked at me, then looked at his mum and said, I want to wear nail polish too then. That made me happy. Why are we ok with adults standing out, or being their own person and not kids?
What are we so afraid of? I think the more self-expression the better. Without it life would be so boring. Both of my sons love to shop. Harry just goes off and comes back with a ton of stuff he loves.
I think he takes after me, of course. I love that he loves fashion. I try to keep Dan in check sometimes. We just wanted to take it slow.
Work up to it. What do you want to say to other parents of boys who just like to dress like girls, or, for that matter, girls who want to dress like boys? The only thing we can say is, for us, self-exploration is a positive thing.
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The earlier you find out who you are, and what makes you happy the better. Some people take a lifetime to find out who they are and what makes them happy.
Why not speed up the process? We just try to love them as much as we can and let them lead the way. In the end I think the kids are teaching us a thing or two about life. Why should it matter if we wear a dress or pants?
I never had a doll. If I was playing with a truck no one came up to me and questioned what I was doing. Why question a boy with a doll? Why does gender come into play when it comes to toys? My boys have never liked to play with trucks. But that was his choice, not ours.
Dan really does like dolls. He really does have a lot of Barbies. He has many playdates with his friends too. All the parents have been amazing to him too.