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The Gendering of Preschool


My youngest starts preschool in a week. She has been a wild and naked thing all summer, climbing everything, running so fast she feels like flying, and eating pounds of fruit a day. She says things all the time like, "I am a silly boy," and "Monkey George! I love her!" and generally gets pronouns and gendered identities wrong all the time. We love this and how the world hasn't yet beat her down about gender and how it must always be rigidly maintained. At the playground she's usually the only kid in clothes (like what you and I might wear) and not pink things or shirts embroidered with footballs. All the time kids ask her if she's a boy or a girl. She doesn't really know how to answer, and doesn't care.

So, anyway, she's starting preschool next week and will be entering a cohort of kids in a way she hasn't before -- she has friends, but not groups of friends. I desperately want her first foray into such a thing to go well. It probably will: Lyra is a hurricane in all kinds of weather. I am planning, (and I feel all kinds of conflicting things around this) to dress her like a girl for the first week, so that she's not bombarded with confusing questions by a whole bunch of kids around her gender and forced to define herself. After week one or two, we will resume our usual mishmash of random hand-me-downs clothes. I knew going into it that parenting would involve some camouflaging of all the ways we're different to protect the kids, but I didn't know it would start so young.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kate_schaefer
Sep. 1st, 2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
My granddaughter was surprised, while in kindergarten, to learn that a friend who invited her to a birthday party was a boy. He, in turn, was surprised to learn that she was a girl. They'd been in school together for months, playing together frequently. Thier mothers were all amused.

Now she's at college. At this point, gender isn't a problem, but identity continues to be challenging.

Best of luck!
rose_lemberg
Sep. 1st, 2013 11:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for supporting your child in her gender expression.
ktsparrow
Sep. 1st, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)
To clarify, I think gender is a social construct, and she (for lack of a better term) doesn't have it yet, at least not to the degree that will be pounded into her. So it's less gender expression and more the kid being free.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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ktsparrow
Katherine Sparrow
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