Took Squid shopping the other day. We needed a raincoat and we were going to look at bathing suits. I let her pick out a rain coat and she chose the girliest coat, pink with flowers or apples or some such nonsense. It's cute and she hugged it and smiled and wanted to wear it throughout the store.
Then we went over to the swimwear area to see what they have. She was instantly drawn to the Spiderman swim trunks. Have I mentioned how much this kid loves Spidey? I'm actually getting a little worried about her obsession. She pointed and smiled and said, "SPIDEY!" I acknowledged that the swim trunks did indeed have Spiderman on them. Then I sang the theme song as she danced in her seat. And as much as I would love to say I bought her the swim trunks, I can't. I told her we should try to get her a girl's swimsuit and we looked on the slightest chance that they might have a Spiderman bathing suit. They didn't. I showed her Dora, Minnie Mouse, Princesses Galore... even an Angry Birds. She emphatically shook her head no and pointed at the Spiderman trunks. I promised I would look and see what I could find online and guiltily bought her some Spidey pajamas.
When we were checking out, the cashier looked at our haul, which now included a cloth diaper for her doll and a purple doll stroller (she had tried to steal one from a kid at the mall the other day, so we figured a $10 toy was cheaper than jail time). The cashier looked at Squid and said, "Is this all for you? Oh, wait... not all. The pajamas must be for your brother."
"Nope," I replied. "They're hers. She's a big Spiderman fan."
The cashier looked a bit incredulous (seriously? over pajamas?) and smiled and continued to scan our items.
|Don't you tell me what to do, cardboard dinosaur!|
At home, I learned that they only make superhero bathing suits for nubile teens. WTH? I had Wonder Woman Underoos and such as a kid. Comics are HUGE right now. And all that's available for little girls is princesses and Dora. Wilting flowers waiting for a prince to come save them or a girl who is constantly getting lost in the woods.
When I mentioned the conundrum at work, my male coworkers laughed and smiled, knowing my daughter and her fanaticism for the web-slinger. A newer female coworker was aghast. "Why would you want her to wear a Spiderman bathing suit? Wouldn't she rather have a princess or Dora? She's a girl!"
I change her diapers, I am well-aware of her gender. And I watch her play mommy with her dolls and teddies and Spiderman plushie. She rocks them. She feeds them. And occasionally growls at them and bites their legs. I don't judge. Hell, I don't even attempt to understand anymore. I just go with the flow and encourage her to be herself.
Eventually, I was able to find a site selling toddler Spiderman Speedo-style swim trunks and a Spidey rash guard shirt. It'll work as a swimsuit. It's not as brave of a choice as letting her wear the boy trunks. But it's still a subtle way of telling society that it sucks. Of course, I could just as easily refuse to buy her any character-emblazoned outfits, barring superheroes and princesses alike. But I'd feel a bit like a hypocrite, telling her that she can't wear a Spiderman or Elmo shirt, while I walk around in my favorite Death or Dawn shirt.
Plus, I don't know how long this Spiderman phase will last. She may be done with it all next week. And as a geek, I need to be sure to fully enjoy any glimmer of geekiness my little Squid may have. So, I'll buy her the bathing suit that I have cobbled together. I will dress her as Princess Wonderwoman for C2E2. I will encourage her to emulate the best characteristics of the best superheroes. And I will try to teach her the meaning of a real superhero.... ones that don't wear capes. But mostly, I want her to realize that the media and retail industry does not need to decide what you will like. We do not need to start pigeonholing our children before they enter preschool. There are plenty of years and people who are going to try to stuff them into boxes. Let them enjoy the outside for a while first.
|Teddy needs some fresh air.|