I get it.
Girls have cooties and whatnot.
I understand that at 3 and 4 years old, you have already established that girls should only play with dolls and make cakes out of sand and have tea parties. I understand that we, as parents, have done this to you by buying gender-specific toys and clothes. I understand, young boys, that you see pink and that makes you think, "Different." I understand that there is a boys' club in this world; I've been excluded from it for most of my life But, I never realized it started so early, in the sandbox at the local preschool.
My Jane is so special. She can rock a tiara while wearing a Lightning McQueen costume and playing "Dusty Crophopper Fire and Rescue." She builds kick a** Lego playgrounds while having tea parties with dolls and dinosaurs alike. She could certainly add some spark to that volcano game you're playing. And, if you'd give her that chance, she wouldn't come home asking why it is she can't play a game because she's a girl. She wouldn't come home with a tiny seed planted that she'll have for the rest of her life -- that she is unworthy of playing with you boys simply because she has a vagina. That she is, quite literally, not on an equal playing field with you.
You can't ever take back what you told her yesterday in that sandbox. It's a done deal. I know, because I've lived it. This will only be the first of many things Jane will be excluded from based on gender. And, believe me, I know that she will do plenty of excluding too (maybe even today, on the playground, when her resentment erupts and she demands you leave the sandbox because you wear blue instead of pink). But my hope is that we parents can get it in gear and demand from our children that they not engage in gender stereotypes -- that they realize that volcanoes really belong to us all.