Tiaras vs. Tonka Trucks


A toddler boy playing with a doolhouse.A little over a year ago, we were in the delivery room, and my husband proudly exclaimed, “Meet your baby boy!” We had waited to find out the gender of both of our little ones, and I can honestly say I was surprised each time. As I held my tiny baby boy in my arms for the first time, I was ecstatic and a little nervous. I was on new terrain.

In the blurry haziness of newborn land, I recall asking a mommy friend with an older daughter and younger son what I should prepare for going from a girl to a boy. “We love to watch him and see what he’ll do next. He constantly makes us laugh.”

A year later, I understand and have to say there are definite innate differences among genders, and the nerd in me loves that I can observe this first hand!

Let’s begin with my daughter. The one that wears frilly dresses even to hang out in our backyard and loves yellow because it is the color of gold and can engage in imaginary play for hours with just about anything. I have caught her in the backseat acting out a story with her toes! She is a girly girl.

Some of that can be blamed on a certain brand of beautiful princesses that shall remain nameless, but the rest is just who she is. She was easygoing, loved to sleep, and was hesitant to leave the beach blanket as a baby. A daycare kid since the tender age of three months, her best buds were all boys! She is more comfortable with boys and is more drawn to them in new situations. She is well-rounded in her playing interests just as long as she looks pretty and never has to wear jeans.

Meet my son. He dives headfirst into life. Really. Life is one big experiment for him. “What will happen if I do this . . .?” seems to be his motto. He has a very irritating fascination with the toilet and successfully sent his first item down as soon as he could walk. He is busy, busy, busy. He went from taking a few steps to running. I really should count the time chasing after him as my cardio for the week because he can move! His most endearing activity is crawling into things – boxes, bins, the hamper, cabinets, the bottom of his exersaucer. He gets such a kick out of me finding him in these places.

Being the younger brother to a princess, he also finds himself engaging in dress-up and other various activities that may not be deemed appropriate by the gender police. With a tiara on his head, I have spun him around the room singing “I Feel Pretty” on several occasions. He adores his big sister and loves to be a part of whatever she does—our very own Max and Ruby episode, daily.

The other day, a little boy kept gravitating towards my niece’s baby doll at a library group. I casually said to his mother, “I guess you know what toy you need to get him next.” “Never!” she replied. I was taken aback, but it got me thinking. Would I be so agreeable to my son playing with girly items if he didn’t have an older sister? The answer would still be yes. Maybe I would ease off a little on the West Side Story moments, but I wouldn’t limit his play to just cars, trains, and trucks.

Although I find myself saying things like, “My son is a typical boy!” I have realized that I am okay with my children blurring the lines drawn by our society. Regardless of their characteristics that are distinct to their gender, both of my children are open to all types of play, and I love it. My son loves the baby doll he received for his first birthday, and my princess also moonlights as a pirate. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In what ways do your kiddos fit their gender stereotypes? In what ways are they different?

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Shannon has lived in Fairfield County, CT for most of her life and currently lives in Monroe. She has a daughter L (September, 2008) and a son B (May, 2012). Shannon balances being a wife and mom with working 186 days out of the year as a special education teacher. Thank goodness for vacations, summer break, and snow days! You can be sure that she fills those days with as many amazing activities and outings that she can think of to make up for the time that she is at work. In a distant life, way before babies, Shannon was an aspiring actress and musician. You can sometimes still find her leading sing-a-longs with her guitar at the kids’ playgroups or at her daughter’s school.


  1. Good stuff, Shan. El blurs the lines too. She loves to wear dresses, and refuses to wear jeans (they push on my tummy!). She likes to play with Barbies, but she also loves train sets. She’ll play on her swingset but also throw around the football or shoot hoops with Dad. She doesn’t like bugs, but she’s not afraid to get dirty. I love that she’ll try new things and is well-rounded.

  2. My son loves fairy wings, and was dressed as queen Elsa for most of New Years. He likes Barbie dolls and mermaids and designs clothes for them. Sometimes this is a bit of an internal struggle for me… Maybe because I worry that he may get picked on/bullied when he is older… Still, at the end of the day I think unwound rather he play with dolls than guns.


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