A few weeks ago Mazzy came running from the living room to find me. I believe she found me in the bathroom, but we don't need to elaborate on that.
"Mom! Mom! Mom! Come with me! I want to show you something COOL!!!"
Okay, okay, I mumbled as I (pulled my pants up and) ran into the living room to see what all the fuss was about. Mazzy had never used the word "cool" before so I was curious.
"Look, Mom! Isn't that COOL?!"
On the TV screen were the fully masked, weapon carrying, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Huh. Not exactly appropriate television for a three-year-old. I quickly shut it off.
"But MOM!!!! I like that! It's so COOL!!!"
"Sorry, sweetie but that show is for bigger kids."
"No, just for older kids."
"For older boys?"
"No, boys and girls."
Sigh. This line of questioning is not new. Lately, Mazzy is very interested in the differences between boys and girls. Somehow she knows what are stereotypically "boy things" and "girl things" although she herself does not seem to have a clear preference.
At least, not yet.
She prefers stuffed animals to dolls and loves to cook in her play kitchen, but associates cooking more with her dad than with me. She likes Diego just as much Dora and alternates between asking for Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Tinkerbell on Netflix.
We let Mazzy choose her clothes in the morning and she goes back and forth between demanding dresses and demanding oversized slogan t-shirts paired with backwards baseball hats. She calles the dresses "pretty" and the t-shirts "cool". And she is equally adamant about wearing either, depending on the day.
I've written posts about Mazzy liking both "boy" and "girl" things equally before, but what's changed is that previously, the only person who associated her likes and dislikes along gender lines was me.
Now, Mazzy seems to register these differences as well.
In addition to oversized t-shirts, the "cool" category includes water guns, superhero masks and light sabers. The "pretty" category includes tiaras, bejeweled purses and ballerinas.
Her interests of the moment are most influenced by who she is playing with. She has girl friends who are very into Cinderella and tutus, and when she plays with them, she gladly traipses around in their Disney Princess heels and layers necklace over necklace.
But when she plays with boys, she is just as happy running around in a fire hat and fighting over who gets the bigger truck.
Oddly, Mazzy's dedication to pink has not wavered in two years. She'll say things like, "Mom and me like pink and Daddy likes blue" to which I always respond, "I like pink and blue". Then she'll say, "I like blue too." Although her work at art camp shows her preference for pink to be much more exclusive.
Can you guess which picture is Mazzy's?
But after Mazzy hands me her Pinkalicious-inspired art, she'll ask me to call her Buzz Lightyear for the remainder of the day. Then she'll pick Madeline for a bedtime book and sleep with an oversized Curious George.
I'm not sure why I keep waiting for Mazzy to choose a side. I like that her interests remain so varied and try my best to squash any pre-conceived notions I have about what she might enjoy. But the older Mazzy gets, the more she seems aware of what's expected.
The other day, Mike took her to a baseball game. When I told her she was going she said, "only boys play sports".
At first, I was confused. Mazzy plays soccer every Sunday and has for months. She owns every kind of ball imaginable and we play games with them all the time. I tried to tell her both boys and girls play sports but she insisted— "No, only boys play sports."
That's when I realized Mike watches football and baseball on TV and the people playing are obviously all men.
Then, while at my father's summer house, I sat with Mazzy and Harlow indoors while Mike and my father put up a fence around the pool. Mazzy told me she wanted to help. I said, no, because it was dangerous.
She said, "Daddy is doing it because he is strong."
"Mommies aren't strong."
Oh, man. Not promoting gender stereotypes is pretty tough when you're a walking gender stereotype.
Note to self: 1) Watch women's basketball. 2) Use tools.
Alright. Maybe I can't change who I am but there is something I can do…
While I was looking for photos for this post, I noticed I take a lot of "pretty" pictures of Mazzy in dresses, but not a lot of her when she wears her big t-shirts with backwards baseball hats.
I found two.
That's my bad. Because "cool" Mazzy is equally as awesome.