You know when you walk into target to buy toothbrushes and you’re instantly slammed in the face with dollar junk and handbags? Yea, thanks Target.
“Mom! Will you buy me this purse?” says my 8-year-old boy. He was dead serious. Not a crack of a smile on his face. He started pleading with me about how he needed something to hold his collection of Tsum-Tsums, so he could spontaneously trade with friends when the need arose. And to this day, I’m a little disappointed in myself for perpetuating the fallacy of gender roles in children when I said, “Let’s check out the boy’s section to see what they have over there.” ::ashamed emoji::
There was a quick and unimpressed “no” as we riffled through the more masculine options available.
Before we knew it, we had swept past the girls section–you know, the one where I always avert my eyes as we pass by because I will forever be a boy mom and even the slightest glance at those precious girl clothes crushes my soul. Yea, that one.
“This one! I want this one! Please?” He’s holding up a blue pleather Beauty and the Beast handbag from this forbidden girls section that looks adorably like an old book. It wasn’t long before we moseyed on in and my middle boy had also picked out a cute handbag–covered in flowers (and pictured above). What the hay. Who cares. So I buy them.
On our way home, we stopped into Chick-fil-a to grab dinner and maybe I felt a little uncomfortable when my 8-year-old and 6-year-old boys rolled in with cross-body handbags. I may not care, but the world can be cruel–and we live in The South.
But my boys are warriors. They were not phased by the curious glances. Went right over to a table, opened up their bags and started playing with toys.
Several weeks go by and the kids who are quick to forget about shiny new things are still using these handbags to carry things around–collections, Pokemon cards, pencils, art supplies, everything.
But one night at dinner, the 6-year-old says to me, “Dad says you need to buy me a boy bag.”
What?! Excuse me?!
Their dad may be insecure in his masculinity, but he’s not going to pass that insecurity on to his children if I have anything to say about it.
I looked Wade right in the eye, and with the lowest and steadiest voice I could muster, I said “You don’t let anyone make you feel bad for liking what you like–not even your dad.”
In talking with him some more, I could tell that all of a sudden, he was conscious that this was an issue–and it didn’t come from a bully at school or a bigot out in public. It came from his own family.
I reamed their dad, but I was careful to tread lightly in the face of an allegation that I somehow convinced my boys to carry purses. Did I?
Wade stopped taking his purse to his dad’s house and insecurity crept into his life like a stealth burglar. But I tried in every way to make sure he understood that he’s loved no matter what he likes and I listened to his worries as much as I could. Eventually the controversy slipped away, and everything became normal again–without a child feeling self-conscious about whether or not he’s acting boy enough.
It’s been a couple of months and Wade is still using that little handbag. In fact, he took it to school yesterday for Share Day. I’m thankful he goes to a school where children’s interests are celebrated and something superficial like this wouldn’t even be a blip on anyone’s radar.
I’m proud of him for working through this and getting past imposed insecurity. His bravery is inspirational to me.
Ronnie was never phased at all. He continued to carry his bag despite anything anyone said about it. Blessed are the children that don’t give AF.
My boys are warriors with handbags. And if they can continue on with life in the face of criticism now, the world better watch out for what they do as grown men.