When Tiern was a little more than 2-1/2 years old, I picked him up and he returned my hug, “I luff you.”
“Oh, I love you too, Tiern.”
Then he patted my shoulder, “You’re a dood boy, Mama.”
Since then, he has grown in his appreciation for the differences between the sexes. He has even assigned certain colors to each side. When choosing a plastic spoon for his cereal, he avoids the pink and purple options in favor of a “boy spoon,” such as the green or blue one. He often attempts to impart his mature wisdom to Little Miss, instructing her on what things she should like or do because she is, in his words, “a gullel.”
Little Miss, however, is just a few months shy of 3 years old. She does not possess the mature wisdom that Tiern has acquired. And she has become enamored with Michael Darling from Peter Pan.
Somehow, Little Miss found herself identifying with little Michael after watching the Disney movie version, and dubbed a set of her pink footed pajamas her “Michael Jammies.” She always wanted to wear her Michael Jammies to bed, and it became a complex exercise in motherhood strategy to get the threadbare outfit through the laundry cycle of washed-dried-folded every so often.
Her obsession with Michael was helpful, however, the first night she was officially potty-training. As we prepared for bed, she realized she was still wearing underpants, and asked if she could put on a diaper. I told her no, and explained that she was finished with diapers–per our discussion earlier that day. She widened her big blue eyes and her lower lip quivered. Nothing I said convinced her that she should wear her underpants to bed.
Until I took a shot in the dark. “You know, Michael doesn’t wear diapers to bed.”
“No. Have you ever seen him wearing diapers to bed? Nope. He doesn’t.”
And that was all it took. She stopped crying and willingly submitted to the new routine.
This past Halloween, with Tiern excited to portray Peter Pan, Little Miss decided without hesitation that she must be Michael. She looked rather cute, tromping around in pink pajamas with a teddy bear tucked under her arm. In retrospect, it was the most practical Halloween costume we’ve had so far: no need to change for bedtime when we arrived home! No one asked her who she was–and that was just as well. We still think it’s a bit humorous that she doesn’t mind pretending she’s a little boy.
Meanwhile, Tiern can be conveniently selective when imparting his knowledge about what is appropriate for her as a “gullel.” For example, he easily goes along with her Michael persona; and when he is pretending that he is the Lone Ranger. she is the obvious choice for assuming the role of Tonto.
Whether it’s because she has an older brother who only occasionally distinguishes gender roles according to his fancy, or whether it’s because she’s 2-1/2 years old, the boy/girl distinction doesn’t seem to matter to her.
She frequently tells me that Dood Locka is a girl. She also mixes up gender-specific pronouns: he, she, her, his–as if English is her 2nd language, and she’s using the first pronoun that comes to mind.
Little Miss is definitely a girl at heart; her little ponies are her favorite toys, and she loves to make her Mama some “tea and cakes” late at night, while her brothers are sleeping.
I have no doubt that she’ll grow into her feminine identity by the time she reaches Tiern’s maturity of wisdom at 4 years of age!