So, here’s something a little strange. My daughter sneaks out of her bed at 2am to “shop” for dresses in her closet. She has lots of dresses. Purple mostly, some pink. She pulls them out, looks them over, tries some on. Sometimes, she falls back asleep in the closet, pulling those dresses over her for warmth.
Cute? Disturbing? I can’t decide.
Ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, and she’ll tell you: “I want to be a princess.” Ask her what a princess does at work, and she’ll tell you: “twirl.”
She spends a lot of time twirling. And changing clothes.
The other day, within the same conversation, she said to me, “I just want to wear a little black dress.” WTF? Then she followed up that gem with, “just give me some space, daddy.”
I’m not really sure when it happened. She’s three going on 13.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s hell bent on “shooting” any moving object (with pretend lasers) and “fixing” any stationary object (by bludgeoning it with a plastic hammer). He’s such a stereotypical dude: He likes sticks and hitting things with sticks and occasionally peeing on things.
What’s amazing to me is how easily they’ve both fallen into these classic gender roles. You might think the kids are just imitating what they see from their parents, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Cooper’s never seen me pick up a hammer or fix anything and Addie rarely sees her mom in anything other than hospital scrubs. I do the cooking, my wife mows the lawn. I drive a tiny Jetta, my wife drives a four-wheel drive SUV. And yet my daughter will spend an entire afternoon spinning around in front of a mirror while saying, “I’m so pretty,” and my son is obsessed with monster trucks. Specifically, monster trucks that smash smaller trucks.
That’s not to say Addie is strictly a princess. She’s hell on a climbing wall, sending all kinds of routes with grace. She’s a fast little trail runner, too. And I’ve occasionally caught her smashing shit with a plastic hammer. She also loves chicken wings. I think that’s pretty cool.
Cooper has a soft side too, which I’m doing my best to nurture. Like his sister, he’ll occasionally strap on a skirt and twirl like a princess–a fact that drives certain grandparents crazy, I’m sure. I know some dads might take issue with their son wearing pink skirts and pretending to be a Snow White, but I like to think I’m more open-minded than that. I’m evolved: I’ll love my son if he grows up to wear pretty dresses…as long as he’s still the starting center fielder for the Atlanta Braves. That’s non-negotiable.