4 articles Tag boys

How Gender Normative Attitiudes are Damaging Our Kids

I’ve written before about how we don’t believe in gendered toys and that we encourage the girls to forget gender conformity when it comes to pursuing their interests, and for the most part it’s worked well. BB plays just as happily with toy cars and Nerf guns as she does with her Barbies, and Sausage goes to a martial arts class where she’s often the only girl. A phrase often uttered by me is “as long as you don’t need a penis to operate it, it’s not just for boys!” and despite the cringe caused by the word “penis” the girls are happy with this rule.

However, just recently, BB has run into some issues. It started a while back when she asked for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear, and we discovered that they didn’t make them for girls. We did, however, find some stretchy boxers on the boy’s section of H&M which had TMNT print on them and decided that they were just as good as knickers and would probably be quite comfy. BB has worn them, happily, for months.

A couple of weeks ago, she was getting dressed for school and I’d laid out her TMNT boxers for her to wear, and she got a bit upset and said she didn’t want to wear them that day. I asked why and she said that it was P.E. day, so she’d have to get changed in front of her classmates, and she didn’t want anyone to see her in her boxers. It transpired that a few kids in her class had been taking the mikey and telling her that she shouldn’t be wearing that underwear because it was for boys. She told the girl who was mocking her that “Mummy couldn’t find any others for me to wear today”, but she shouldn’t have to feel like she needs to make an excuse.

She’s quite a resilliant kid, our BB, but it was clear that it was bothering her to have her classmates telling her that she was doing something “wrong”. I started trying to ensure that I gave her girly underwear on the days she had swimming or PE, but the whole thing sat really uncomfortably with me.

It gets worse.

BB’s school, like the rest of the country, offers free school meals in key stage one, but they recently got rid of their cold food provision, so if a child wants a cold lunch instead of a hot meal, they can now take a packed lunch. BB was super excited about this as she’s a little fussy with food AND wanted to show off her new lunch box. Her new Spiderman lunch box.

She’s used it twice, and BOTH times been told by some of her peers that her lunchbox is for boys.

The problem I’m having is this – what want her to do is to tell them all off about their gender normative attitudes and carry on using whatever she wants to cover her ass and carry her lunch. However, it’s not me who has to fight the battle, it’s her. I can encourage her to stick up for herself and tell her classmates where to shove it all I like, but at the end of the day, she’s the one who has to do it. Part of me wants to protect her feelings, buy her the pink knickers, buy her the LOL lunchbox and let her conform, but a MUCH bigger part of me wants to encourage her to stick to her guns and wear whatever she damn-well wants. We don’t raise kids to be compliant.

The whole thing has really stuck in my throat. The saddest part is, I’m not surprised. I still see posts on things like Facebook Marketplace on an almost daily basis of people looking for “toys for boys” or a “pushchair suitable for a girl”. We’re STILL, in 2019, so hung up on the outdated rules we’ve had drummed into us about what is for girls and what is for boys and it’s being passed onto the next generations.

We’ve given BB a pep talk and told her that the opinions of others are not important, and that she should carry on liking Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles without worrying about what people think, and I’m hoping it sticks but there’s a chance that the damage has already been done. Daddy also made sure she had undies she felt comfortable in for PE days and bought her some in pastel colours. NOT that we should have needed to…

If you’re reading this and still teach your kids that toys and charachters are only for a specific gender, please join us in the 21st century and update what you’re teaching your kids, because I will NOT be teaching mine to tolerate that kind of bullshit.

(Also, is it any wonder we’re still having these problems when THIS is what comes up when you Google “TMNT girls”…because obviously, no ninja goes anywhere without their handbag and fucking stripper heels. EYEROLL)

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Tween and Teen Boys

We’re at a point now where the majority of the Christmas shopping is done, bar the big food shop which will probably happen on Sunday. It’s been a funny year of gift buying; Sausage is at an age where toys aren’t really her thing and she has a phone, laptop, TV, tablet, camera etc already, so we’ve had to really wrack our brains to think of a main gift for her. BB is still easy enough to buy for, as she’s only got to sit in front of Nickleodeon for half an hour and she’s found 20 new things she wants from the adverts.

Husband and I have two nephews, one who is the same age as Sausage and one who is 14 and I have to say, they’re two of the hardest family members to buy for. They both love their labels, so they’d be happy with a boys Hugo Boss t-shirt but beyond that we always feel stumped. They’re the same as our girls in the respect that they have everything a tween or teen could want, but they’re also both amazing at saving money from Christmasses and birthdays, so they rarely have to wait for people to buy them stuff if there’s something they want, mid-year.

One thing that we’ve found works quite well is clubbing together with other family members to buy them larger items which would be out of budget if we bought them by ourselves. The family did this last year when BB wanted a trampoline for her birthday; it meant that BB got exactly what she wanted and it saved several people from having to come up with ideas for individual presents.

If we wanted to opt for something a bit more pricey, a boys Hugo Boss coat would be a great gift to club together and get them. What kid doesn’t love going back to school after Christmas and showing off the stuff they got, especially if that stuff is designer!

Are there people in your family who you struggle to buy gifts for each year? Have you found it harder as the kids have got older? Would you resort to simply sticking money in a card and letting them buy something for themselves in the sale? Please leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

“You Look Like a Girl”

boy dressed as princessThe other day, I needed to buy some new pillows so I went to the supermarket and was wandering around the clothing and home wares department having a browse. It was pretty quiet in there as it was only about 9.15am and there were only one or two other shoppers in the whole place. One other customer was a woman, probably in her mid-to-late twenties and her son, who obviously wasn’t quite school age yet, but still looked roughly 4-ish.

The kid was wandering around fairly unchecked and at one point started to try things on from one of those free-standing jewellery and accessory displays that turns – you know the ones, right? Anyway, he became particularly enamoured with a pair of novelty sunglasses which had red, heart-shaped frames. He put them on and after admiring himself in the tiny mirror for a few seconds, turned to his Mum and, with huge amounts of pride and happiness said “Mum! Look at me! I love these glasses!”.

The mother turned to him, narrowed her eyes and with pure vitriol in her voice said “Oh my god, take those off, you look like a girl”.

My initial reaction was one of sadness as I watched the boy, clearly deflated after being rebuffed by the mother from whom he’d so wanted a little bit of praise and affirmation, take off the glasses and put them gently back on the shelf. He looked really sad, and not in that “I wanted something and Mum wouldn’t buy it for me” way that kids do, but in a genuinely confused and upset way.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the madder I’ve felt.

Firstly, what is it about red, heart shaped glasses which is designated as a GIRLS ONLY thing? Even if you do subscribe to the (bloody annoying) notion that colours are somehow gendered, surely red is a pretty neutral colour? And hearts…I mean, do only girls have hearts?! Err, no.

Secondly, even if you do think that red, heart shaped glasses are ‘girly’, SO WHAT if he does look like a girl? How is that somehow a negative thing? Is it really so bad to let a child experiment with what they feel comfortable in and form their own notions of femininity and masculinity? I know loads of guys (Husband included on one or two occasions) who’ve worn pink and absolutely rocked it. They didn’t look like girls, they looked like MEN IN PINK, just like this little boy simply looked like a boy in heart-shaped glasses. There’s a big difference.

Also, I genuinely thought we were getting past the days of negative gender stereotypes? I see little boys on my friends’ Facebook timelines playing with dollies, pushchairs, vaccums, ironing boards; all toys which, even in my lifetime, would have firmly been in the girls toys aisle and equally, I see MANY girls playing with Thomas the Tank Engine – Burrito Baby got her own tool kit and farm vehicles for her 2nd birthday whilst Sausage’s favourite things are Pokemon, Match Attax and her NERF guns. But these are “boys toys”, no? Or, is it possible, that we can just have fun with things we like, regardless. Well, yes, obviously it is.

It makes me so sad to think that little boys are having their joy, their individuality and their creativity squashed by parents with an archaic notion of what it is to be a boy and I really dread to think about the issues that this could cause them as they grow up. As a parent, I strongly believe that, although it’s our job to guide our children in terms of morality, safety and care, it’s also really important to allow them to develop their sense of self.

What do you think? Would you allow your sons to wear red, heart-shaped sunglasses? Or do you think that boys should be boys and girls should be girls and that the old-fashioned line in the sand between the two genders should remain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Get £5 to spend at borntobeyoung.com!

Sausage is getting to an age now where clothes and fashion are of upmost importance. She loves nothing more than shopping for a new outfit and is never happier than when she’s allowed to choose her own clothes at the beginning of the day. In fact, fashion has seeped into other areas of her life too; she has her own laptop and can often be found playing various ‘dress-up’ games that she finds online, and is always asking me to tie or button something she’s dressed her dollies in.

She’s recently started taking an interest in Mummy’s work, and when I get the chance to do anything fashion related, she’s almost as enthusiastic as when she gets toys to review, so being asked to write about a new kids fashion site seems very appropriate for us at the moment!

Sometimes, being a blogger means that we get cool opportunities to have a sneak peek at new and exciting things, and today I’m able to pass that opportunity on to Mum’s the Word’s readers. The lovely people over at Born to be Young, the newest online retailer of kids clothing, is offering all lucky Mum’s the Word readers £5 to spend on their site, with no minimum spend, just because they’re feeling generous! Here’s what they told me about the site:

We are building something completely new in the children’s e-commerce sector as with Born to be Young mums (and dads ) can:

– save and endorse products they like through the lollipop button (when someone clicks on the lollipop, the product gets more “credit” and is saved in the mum’s profile)

– create a profile : see example here: https://www.borntobeyoung.com/profile/1

–  follow (designers and peers) and get followed

They’ve got some absolutely stunning outfits for girls and boys, plus a whole bunch of baby items, gifts, toys, decorations and so much more. Here’s a few of our favourites:

Born to be Young

There’s lots more to come on the site before its official launch but there’s items still plenty to see between now and then, and what’s already there gives you a really great example of the quality of the items that Born to be Young will offer.

To take advantage of this offer, all you have to do is head over to Born to be Young, register on the site and they’ll send you a code to the value of £5 for you to spend on anything you want on the site. Their kids clothes are absolutely to-die-for, but I’ve also got my eye on a few of their gorgeous ornaments, for when we move next month, too.

Once you’ve been over there for a look, do come back and tell me  what you thought of the site and what you bought (or are planning to buy!). I’d love to know what you all thought.

Happy shopping, dear readers!