My daughter’s tastes are what many refer to as “tomboy.” She has never taken to playing with dolls of any sort, never cared for the colour pink and couldn’t care less what she’s wearing as long as she’s allowed to play in the mud with it.
My husband and I have always chosen to just go with the flow, and let her play with whatever she likes, however she likes. So it’s never been an issue at home. And socially, it’s never been an issue either since she’s always had a crew of friends who enjoyed the same things (and who happen to be boys).
But I’ve really noticed a difference as of late. She’s now in Grade Two, and the gender divide is already happening. When the boys play with her at recess, some of the girls will tease her and say “Is that your boyfriend?” or alternatively, will taunt the boy with “Are you a girl?”
When it came to birthday parties in younger years, the birthday parties included friends — boys or girls. But now, it seems girls have girls to their parties and boys have boys to their parties. On occasion Stella still gets a birthday invite from a boy, and we’re never really surprised to turn up and find that she’s the only girl there. But more often than not, she just doesn’t get an invite at all these days.
So it was with great excitement that Stella came home about a week ago toting a birthday invitation from a Mary, a girl in her class. I acted casual, but inside I was thrilled that she had been included in a social event.
Today was the big day. As you can imagine, Stella is not a girl who wears dresses. It’s jeans and t-shirts only. But today, it was like she was more aware of being included by the girls. She dug out a t-shirt from the back of the cupboard; it had a dog on it and rhinestone accents. RHINESTONES. This was huge.
We arrived to the party and she immediately joined the girls on the outside play structure. She showed a little bit of nervousness, but within minutes she was happily waving me off while swinging up a storm. I returned her wave and went back home to put Max down for his nap.
When the time for pick-up arrives, I show up and she’s nowhere to be seen. Mary’s mom calls inside the house for her. Stella comes skipping out of the house. She looks happy as a lark. I feel so relieved.
Mary excitedly starts gathering up Stella’s loot bag items, which include a fairy wand, pink wig and butterfly wings. I can see that Stella has already assessed these treats and she’s got a response at the ready: “Oh, no, I’m totally fine. Thanks anyways.”
Naturally, Mary looks confused and thrusts the items towards her anyways. Not wanting to be rude, Stella accepts them with thanks. I glance at Mary’s Mom. I think she knows what’s going on, but I’m not sure.
I turn to Sara’s parents and thank them for having Stella to the party. Her Mom says, “We enjoyed having her. She’s … cute.” That long pause before “cute” was a bit wierd, but whatever, Stella’s happy and that’s what counts.
In the car driving home, I ask how the party was. Stella tells me it was SO GREAT. I am so pleased for her!Then she tells me that Mary’s older brothers and sisters served them their food. I think this was a highlight event for these younger girls. Stella continues, “And they said that Indiana Jones can have her cake first!”
“Who’s Indiana Jones,” I ask.
“Me,” she replies.
I hesitate. “Why were they calling you Indiana Jones?”
“Oh, that’s because when all the girls were playing fairies, she replies nonchalantly, “I decided to be Indiana Jones and chase them with a skipping rope.”
I can’t help but laugh.
“What’s so funny about that?” she asks.
Now I understand that long pause of Mary’s Mom. “Oh, nothing. I just think it’s … cute.”