When my daughter was three, we enrolled her in her first ballet class with gymnastics soon thereafter. The natural progression from that point was competitive cheerleading which she participated in until she was in high school. My niece followed the same pattern. As a matter of fact, our girls were the most “girliest” of girls growing up with huge bows to match every outfit, socks with ruffles, purses, pretend makeup and dolls of every kind. Their first favorite color? Pink…because we made it that way.
My son had a bit more freedom but he too was subjected to who he was through our purchases and desires. We bought him footballs, wrestlers, super heroes and clothing of the most “boyish” type. He played football at 5 years old because we enrolled him, which he hated. It killed me to force him to go to practice but in a space where boys were meant to play sports, he had no choice…until I stared listening. He finally quit and only returned when he wanted to do so.
There are moments that I wish that we could turn back the clock to the days when we decided who our children would be and undid those decisions. As a matter of fact, every time I watch Braeden create some new amazing piece of art, I think of where he would be had we not allowed him the freedom to pursue his own interest. I also think of how we may have deprived our other children in choosing for them.
When I shop for clothes with Braeden, he opts for neutrals, game based or more artistic attire. He won’t wear things with “boyish” sports themes or “rude kid” themes. (Yes, my son wore those too…unfortunately) He is his own person and we respect that.
He is the architect of his own identity. Every kid should be.
I’m glad that we learned from our mistakes and refused to rob him of the person that he is becoming.
Choice starts with the very young. It should anyway.