Sugar and spice or snips and snails?

So everyone knows that we went to Disney not to long ago and most have heard about Palmer's new thing for Ariel (or as my husband likes to say...redheads). The most recent development of this is that Palmer has a new doll.

When we were in KS my mom bought Emily an Ariel doll which was very cute. Emily loves Ariel but for whatever reason completely lost interest in this new gift shortly after she got it. HOWEVER, Palmer has found a new love. He held this doll the entire way home from KS (17 hours) and has slept with her every night since we got home. The thing I found so interesting about this is how he interacts with the doll is completely different than the way that Emily does or would. He drags her around by the feet and usually only wants her when it is time for bed. Last night was the first time I really noticed the fact that he searched for her at bedtime and then laid her on his pillow (feet up with her head under the covers). When Emily plays with dolls it is in a very role playing way with her being the mom and the doll being a "real" baby. Palmer doesn't play with her he just carries her around and has her close to him.

Surprisingly Bret is cool with it and thinks it's pretty cute actually. He still thinks it is a strange attraction to redheads. I find it interesting that out of the hundreds of dolls that Emily has this is the only one he has ever even touched.

I remember taking a women's study class at KState as an undergrad and having a lecture about the conditioning we received as children (whether consciously or not) on what it means to be a boy or girl. I don't think that Bret and I have ever told either of our children to not play with each others toys or guided them towards one gender relevant things than the other. But I suppose we must have at some point because our children are as all girl and all boy as they can get. Emily is the princess with makeup, dress up clothes, Barbies, and dolls. She also plays basketball (or attempts to), carries around Palmer's matchbox cars, has a weird thing for bugs, and loves to watch/play football with her dad. Palmer is rough (he has a chipped tooth, had a serious concussion, and will be sure to break a bone from falling from the crazy places he climbs before he is 5 I am sure), he is fascinated with balls, dinosaurs, and especially cars. He also is a cleaning fanatic, loves to help in the kitchen, loves shoes of all sorts, and has an Ariel baby doll.

I think what is interesting about this is that some parents are worried that if their little boy plays dress up or their little girl want to be a football player they will end up "not normal". A friend of ours even told us that we need to nip that doll in the bud and get him a football to carry around. As supportive and open minded as Bret and I are I wonder what our limits might be. What if Palmer decided next year that he wanted to be Ariel for Halloween? Honestly if he wore it around the house I would think differently than him wearing it to school or out trick or treating. It's not that I think this would make him gay (not that gay is something I wouldn't want him to be or not be) but I worry (admittedly too much) about what other people would think or say and how he might be treated or thought of. Luckily for me kids this age are very easily swayed and change their minds by the minute. I guess this is where the conditioning comes in.

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