We live in a world where the gender lines are becoming less defined in some areas, more defined in others (pink Legos, ‘nuff said). As a mother of a boy I’m happy to get my son pink items, dolls, and other “girl” toys. He’s been the type heavy into cars, trains, and superheros, so it’s nice to see those gender lines aren’t so black and white.
I didn’t expect to hesitate at his request to have a My Little Pony birthday party.
I knew my initial gut instinct was based on the gender lines I’d been taught and raised with. I also knew my second instinct was that of a mother who knows her child: this was a new obsession and ran the risk of dying out before the party. But I can’t deny that the gender issues weighed heavily on me, even as I did my best to shield all this from my son.
At the first mention of the party I was ready to start planning whatever theme he chose, already figuring on Legos as he’s been into them big time. I enjoy making a lot of my own decorations and like to plan in advance to prepare. Yet I held back this year, wanting to leave my child with an escape option, should he change his mind. Knowing any of his friends could tease him for his My Little Pony love and not wanting him to deal with that kind of negative feedback at such an early age.
He held strong to his desire, sans one week where Spiderman trumped. But after that week, it was back to My Little Pony.
This lead me to my next challenge, dealing with all the pink! Just about anything My Little Pony is saturated in pink, yet there are quite a few “Bronies” out there (boys who like My Little Pony). There was nothing I could do about the amount of pink available commercially, but I could balance it out. I chose a theme of rainbows, scattering more “boy” colors around to balance out the pink. Fortunately my standard deocrations already came in blues, greens, and reds, and melded perfectly into the theme.
For the cake, I opted to make my own. The result… well, let’s just say my creativity should stick with writing. I decorated a round cake with blue frosting, created a rainbow made out of Skittles, with marshmellow clouds at the ends. I found some My Little Pony candles and plopped them on the cake. Those who have seen this cake love it, I still fear if I post a picture it’ll end up on Cake Wrecks!
The end result of this party: one happy kid. My son had a blast. The guests were an equal mix of boys and girls and most of the boys got into the theme. I had favors of Ponies and Legos, and most of the guests opted to take a Pony home with them. My son was not teased, though I think most of that is due to the young age of the guests, and an amazing group of kids not affected by the gender roles yet. I’m sure it also helped that most of the boys had baby sisters at home.
For me, I still feel bad about my initial knee jerk reaction to my son’s request for a party theme. It makes me sad that I had to think of how his peers would react to his choice for a girly party. Bullying is all over the news these days, it’s forefront in our minds. Yet kids are kids. They enjoy things without regards to male/female. If we let them.
Ultimately, I’m proud of my son. He hasn’t compromised his love. In fact, as I sit and write this, I’m looking at decorations still handing from my walls. A former train table is filled with a bat cave, Batman figures, Legos, and My Little Ponies. I have one child, this is all him. I hope he continues to be true to himself, even after he grows to be aware of social stigma.