Turi had his first 'grown up' ballet class today (we've been going to 'mummy and me' classes for a while but he's finally graduated). He was so excited and so well behaved. The only slight hiccup was that he wanted to wear a skirt like all the girls. I can completely understand where he is coming from. All the little girls get to wear special ballet outfits with leotards, crossovers and twirly practise skirts while the boys just have to wear black leggings and a white bonds singlet. He wanted something that felt special. So I let him wear fairy wings to class today so that he didn't feel too left out.
Which brings me to my point tonight. Everyone is so caught up with raising their 'non-gender' stereotyped girls that we often forget how narrow the gender expectations are for our boys.
We are going to a friend's wedding on Friday. I took Minty out shopping and bought her a new dress… velvet with tulle and flapper fringe for extra fantastic twirling. When we got home she paraded it for Turi and he asked me hopefully, 'do I get one of those too?' I'm fairly sure that the pair of slacks and shirt that I had in mind isn't going to cut it. So I took him out shopping today to find something that would meet with his approval. He whispered to me with excitement, 'I'm going to look fabulous!' and then proceeded to pick out a faux leopard fur vest from the girl's department, some oversized sunglasses and some black shiny gum boots. Suffice it to say we came home empty handed. Gender stereotypes aside, I wasn't about to let a child of mine go to a wedding in an ensemble that looked chillingly like something 'Scary' Spice may have worn in the early 90s. He cried all the way home.
I like to think of myself as a liberal minded parent but the few times I have let Turi go out in a skirt it elicited such alarmed and tortured looks from (I thought) otherwise progressive parents that I'd rather not subject him to that and burst his bubble of innocence. People's facial contortions generally resemble someone trying to politely swallow an unexpectedly unpleasant mouthful at a formal dinner party.
Which begs the question what is it about a boy in a skirt that is so unnerving? And why is boys' fashion so boring? And even more importantly what on earth is Turi going to wear to this wedding?!?