04 January 2011

Things That Are True - Overthinking

Since one of our dearest friends had a baby six weeks ago, The Imp has been playing, and talking, a lot about babies in tummies, babies being born, and about being a mommy. He's insisted at different times that he's a baby, that he's a big boy, that he wants to be in my tummy, that he's not a baby because babies can't walk, or talk, or do much of anything. He also tells me daily that he's a mommy*. Specifically, George's mommy.

Should I tell him putting George in the fridge isn't going to win him any parenting awards?
He arranges all his stuffies in a row, and tells me he's their mommy and that he's reading them stories and putting them to bed. I hear him, playing in his room, threatening various toys with the dreaded Naughty Corner. (Oh dear.)

This past weekend, visiting with friends, The Imp was playing with a big kangaroo stuffie they had. I explained pouches and joeys and hopping and Australia, and didn't give it another thought. This morning before daycare, The Imp was quite adamant that he was a kangaroo mommy, and that George was a joey. Sure, why not?

But then he was using his kangaroo-mommyhood as an excuse to not get dressed and go to daycare. Time for a little chat, clearly.

Me: You're a kangaroo mommy?
The Imp: Yeah. George is a joey and I'm his mommy.
Me: Well, it's time to put on some pants, kangaroo mommy.
The Imp: (looking at me like I was an idiot) Kangaroo don't wear pants, Mommy.

Damn. He kind of had me there.

Me: (Trying a new tack) Are you a kangaroo at school?
The Imp: No. I'm a kangaroo mommy at home.
Me: You're just a mommy at home? Not at school?
The Imp: Just at home. Not at school.

In a split second, my mind was racing with fears that I'd somehow managed to give The Imp a skewed view of motherhood. "Oh no!" I thought. "I've somehow imparted to him that motherhood belongs at home. I've inadvertently taught him that femininity and masculinity belong in entirely separate spheres. I've indicated through my words and actions that women do not belong at school or work. Oh jebus,  have I messed up the gender roles already? Or is there pressure from the other kids at daycare to be more masculine there? I'm a horrible mother for putting him in daycare when I work from home. Oh fuck. What have I done?!?" As showers of mama-guilt rained down upon my head, I managed to keep my game face on and ask:

Me: If you're a mommy at home, what are you at school?
The Imp: (without missing a beat) A light bulb.

Yeah. Maybe I was overthinking the whole gender-roles thing a little, there.

*I'm not worried about the gender discussion around who's a mommy and who's a daddy at this point. If The Imp says he's a mommy, he's a mommy. He'll sort out the gender stuff in the fullness of time, and be whoever he is.


  1. Well imagine how that conversation will go for me! Looking forward to a few tricky conversations in the next year or so.

  2. My son has started putting his cars in the time out chair. It's interesting to hear him parrot what I've said to a naughty Mater. It also keeps me on my toes for what I say to him. :)

    I wouldn't worry about the gender thing either. My 4yo just told me yesterday that he's "almost ready for high heels". Gender is an evolving thing for quite awhile I think.

  3. That's nothing. My daughter, at around 4 years old, said, "I'm not smart, Mama, I'm pretty."

    Screw you, Disney princesses. Screw. You.

    Honestly, though, I don't sweat it THAT much. I remember being kind of overly into the girly when I was a little kid, and I grew up to be a feminist and an engineer. Kids are experimenting, and not to be taken overly seriously.

  4. The others commented on having shared your experience. I struggled to suppress my laughter - Loki is still asleep.

  5. I love it when they play Mommy. I too worry when they are discipling their stuffies. I worry even more when they hit their stuffies- we DO NOT do that. I am even MORE worried when they laugh afterwards. It's just play though. I hope.