The other night I was putting Joe in bed, he started crying and said he wanted to be a girl. I said okay and then asked why. I said, “What do you think girls can do that you can’t do?” He said, “Play with dollies.” I said, “Boys can play with dollies too!” (Harry and Joe have dozens of soft toys, but no dolls. I didn’t choose not to give them dolls, it’s just not something they’ve expressed an interested in before.) Joe said, “Can I have a dolly?” I said of course.
He wanted one that wees, inevitably, so yesterday I bought him this Baby Amelia potty training doll. I chose her because she was the cheapest (£12.99. Some of them were almost 50 quid!) As soon as I gave her to him, he dressed and undressed her, fed her, sat her on the potty. He took her in the bath with him and we made her a bed (from the box she came in) that he set at the foot of his bed so she could sleep with him.
This morning we walked into town (it’s half an hour’s walk, but it takes an hour with Joe) and Joe insisted on bringing Amelia with him. I’d suggested he leave her at home, but he said, “Can real babies stay at home on their own?” So along she came.
On the way to town, he stopped every now and then to cuddle her and more than once told me “I’m happy you buyed me my baby, Mama.” Halfway there, we sat down on a wall and Joe cuddled
Amelia Abigirl (he changed her name on the way – I kept accidentally calling her Abigail, Joe prefers ‘Abigirl’) and kissed her head. It was really sweet.
In town, we went in M&S and there was a man offering food samples. He said, “Are you interested, lads?” and then added, “And lass.” I though he was talking to me. He then said, “I’ll bring the plate round so she can see.” I still thought he was talking to me. And then he asked Joe to help him get a basket for me and said, “Aren’t you a good girl, helping Mummy?”
I didn’t say anything to the man because I didn’t want him to apologise for thinking Joe was a girl – it’s happened before and I know people get embarrassed, presumably because they think I’ll be insulted? Once we were out of the guy’s earshot, I said, “Hey, why do you think that man thought you were a girl?” Joe pointed at his doll and smiled. I said, “That’s funny, isn’t it? Cos boys and men can love babies too, can’t they?” Joe said, “Daddy does!” I said, “Exactly.”
(It was particularly interesting to me, because I think everything else about Joe was signifying boy. Shoes with dinosaurs on, navy jeans, green t-shirt (I know green’s not automatically masculine, but you only have to look at most shops to see that pastels = girl, brights = boy) and he’d just been swinging poor Abigirl by her ankles to try to hit Harry. But the fact that he was holding a doll overrode all of that. Doll = girl.)