This morning, Jender-Son (almost 5) looked down at his pajama top, pointed at some pink on it and said “I don’t like pink”. I asked if people had been telling him that boys don’t like pink, and he said they had. I told him that wasn’t true and gave him some counterexamples (he briefly tried to resist by insisting they were really girls/women), but then he accepted them. Then he asked if girls like blue. Same routine. I explained to him that it’s really bad for people to say that sort of thing about boys and girls, because that ends up keeping some of the boys and girls from doing things they want to do, and that’s mean. I suggested that if anyone said anything like that again he should tell them it’s not true, and it’s mean.
He then invented a game. I was to tell him things people say about boys and girls and he was to respond. So I gave him lots of real ones, like “boys don’t like making cakes”; “girls don’t like football”; “boys don’t like pretty things”; “girls don’t like running”; “boys don’t like sitting”; “girls don’t like numbers”; “boys don’t like reading”. He responded with, variously, “That’s mean” and “That’s very rude” (his idea). As we did this, I realised how absurd these claims must sound to him– I was listing off lovely things that are fun and saying huge groups of children don’t like them. Then he started adding his own, which made it clear that was exactly how he saw it: “boys don’t like birthday parties”; “girls don’t like presents”.
What a good start to the day.