Annie isn’t the only one with Frozen Fever around here. Mike and I are singing the songs non-stop. Last week, Mike was doing his best Idina Menzel impression, belting out “Let It Go,” when Annie cut him off with a curt, “Boys don’t sing that, Dad! Only girls!” Lately Annie has been increasingly concerned with what girls do and don’t do. I don’t know where it’s all coming from, because while Mike and I have supported Annie’s love for princesses, we’ve always been careful never to limit her understanding of what girls can do, i.e. girls (and boys!) can do anything. In fact, the other day we were watching football when she said, “I’m going to do that when I’m older!” and Mike and I both replied at the same time, “Yeah!”
I wasn’t about to let Annie think that songs were only meant for boys or girls, so I told her that anyone could sing any song. Annie didn’t agree with me on this. “In the movie, the girls sing that song so only girls are allowed to sing it. IT IS IN THE MOVIE WITH GIRLS.” It was hard to argue with that three-year-old logic, so I dropped it with the intention of bringing it up again.
I got my chance a few days later when I heard Annie in her room singing “In Summer,” the song sung by Olaf the snowman (emphasis on “man”) in the movie. Mike and I ran back to her room and said, “Girls, don’t sing that, Annie! Only boys!”
Annie looked at us, surprised, and said, “But I like to sing it!”
“You said only girls can sing ‘Let It Go.’ If that’s true then only boys can sign ‘In Summer’ because Olaf is a boy.”
Annie thought for a second, then said, “You can sing ‘Let It Go’ if you want to, Daddy.”
Then Mike and I high-fived, because obviously.
I have a feeling this what girls do/boys do thing is only going to continue as James gets older (and gets into Annie’s stuff). This is gonna be fun.
Haha. Nothing like a little lesson which she’ll be thinking of over and over without knowing she is. Plus–that older sibling thing can be trying because the youngers always want to “do” the same things. Fun!
I worked at a preschool when I was in college, and it’s amazing how the gender binary reinforcement takes hold in preschools – even despite the parents’ best efforts. I was SO BUMMED when my nephew was Annie’s age and proclaimed a bunch of toys at a gift shop “girl toys.” Ah, the joys of pre-k.
You’re handling this well and with good humor!
The whole boy/girl does get more real once you have one of each. My 8 year old has 2 older brothers, and I’ve patted myself on the back that my boys had dolls, she had a baseball glove etc. Then this…last year before the Harbaugh brothers Superbowl showdown I asked my daughter Rylan, “if your brothers were coaching opposing teams in the Superbowl, who would you cheer for?” She surprised me and made me when she replied, “why wouldn’t it be me coaching a team?” Duh!
I have two girls, 3 and 6. The 6 year old spent over two years wearing a dress/tutu/skirt every.single.day. Then suddenly at the beginning of grade one, she laid off and now wears pants some days, skirts/dresses some days etc. I read quite a bit about how kids identify as a gender, and at that 3-5 age, it’s primarily by the pink/blue and skirts/boy pants and long hair/short boy hair types of indicators. When they reach 5-7 it’s apparently quite typical for kids to feel a bit more secure and not worry so much about whether external indicators impact their gender identification. Like you we certainly didn’t encourage either girly-girl-princess stuff or try to make her traditionally “BOY” but she picked up these cues at daycare and from friends, and eventually just outgrew it. Her princess obsession is mostly gone now too! I recommend reading “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein for a good examination of this stuff. And enjoy it while it all lasts!!
YES, I second the recommendation that moms of girls read Cinderella Ate My Daughter if you haven’t yet!
A third recommendation for Cinderella Ate My Daughter. A quick, fun, balanced read.
This is a developmental stage. Kids around 4 begin to talk about males and females even using that language. Ride it out; it is not permanent.
Funny…cause something similar came up last night with our 3yo son. In the car ride home from school he wanted “beautiful music….like princess music.” We didn’t have anything in the car that would satisfy him, so when we came home we watch YouTube clips of the Little Mermaid and Aladdin. (Wow, do I remember ALL of those lyrics!) And my husband tried to have him listen to Under The Sea but he didn’t want it…he was adamant about ONLY having girl songs…or boys AND girls…but not just girls. Like you, not sure where it is coming from but we enjoyed dancing around to Part of Your World!
YES! High five! Win!
I second what the other moms are saying here, that its a phase. At her developmental stage she’s deepening her self-understanding and combining that with her observation of the world around her (“I’m a girl. I see other girls do this. So, I do this and only girls do this.”). Just like the phase where children can’t learn to discriminate (in a scientific way) between different members of the animal kingdom (“I know my dog. My dog is furry and on 4 legs. All furry things on 4 legs are dogs.”). They develop beyond that gender-bias stuff. Unless you’re my mother [sigh].
Ha! When I was about 7 my friends and I made a “Girls Only Club” and told my brother he couldn’t be in it. So then he and my Mom started the Cookie Club but you could only be in the Cookie Club if you were not in other clubs. It took watching my brother eat half a cookie before we disbanded the Girls Only Club in favor of Cookie Club membership.
We are also dealing with gender issues – with our boy/girl twins. Everything was green when they were born but she eventually gravitated towards pink/purple & he towards blue/green. When she got glasses I was so happily shocked that she did not pick pink or purple. She picked black glasses for her first & 2nd pair. She just got her 3rd pair of glasses and they are blue! He is fine right now (they r 6) wearing purple socks – but one day I imagine he might protest. He also loves to dance & took dance classes in preschool with his sister. In kindergarten he announced that dance classes are only for girls. I am still trying to break that belief!
as others have said, it’s a phase! i remember freaking out about with my now 14yr old, but with the current 4yr old, i just correct her and move on and don’t worry about it.
it’s especially interesting in our case to have our little ones obsessing about boy/girl categorizing, since our house has a butch mom (mommy) and femme (appearing) mom (mama) and the shorty is quite sure that mommy is boy (as are all short haired people). In fact, looking at a 20yr old picture, she commented, “oh, that’s when mama was a boy and mommy was a girl” because at that time, mommy had a long mullet and i had a very short haircut.
Amy S. says:
Well done Heather and Mike!
My son told my husband at bedtime that he could could not kiss him goodnight, because “boys don’t kiss boys”. Wow, he’s 4. It’s 2014, and my beliefs are not popular here in Texas (whereas I’m from CA), so we kept it simple: Daddy can kiss/hug his son because he loves him, just like he does Sissy. He sees his sister get constant affection from her father, why doesn’t he too? He will not be brought up to think it’s wrong! A hand shake is great…but a hug and even sometimes a simple peck, can go a long way!
I can’t believe you allow your child to wear eye shadow…;)
I loved the “talk” about girls and boys and my boys were told that the only difference between boys are genitalia and breasts.
You guys should check out this video of 2 boys and a girl singing a Frozen medley – the boys do quite well with some of the girl songs! http://youtu.be/tA53EsnzlIg