The first time my son put on a tutu, I watched my wife's face go white.
As for me, I'm not totally blameless in the judgment department -- I may have shot her a look like "Ummmm....OK," but I wasn't anywhere near panic mode.
Our two boys could not be more different. Andrew, the older one, is so anti-girl things that he had a full meltdown at 2-years-old when we tried to put a pink swimmy diaper on him. He even pulls the pink pages out of the holiday toy catalogs because that stuff is "for gurrrls." (I almost consider this to be more of an issue requiring attention than liking tutus). And here's his younger brother, gloriously sporting the tutu and fairy wings:
When Andrew first saw his little brother in this getup, he ran over and pulled the tutu down, chiding Dylan for the "girl dress." Dylan, unfazed, looked at his brother with defiance and pulled that tutu back up so quickly and fabulously that the adults watching cheered out loud.
The tutu thing didn't go away. After the first dress-up party, he found his cousin's pink tutu in our house and wanted to wear it to bed every night. His little best friend is a girl and he loves wearing the princess dresses, tiaras and glass slippers when he's at her house. He's also learning to accessorize with purses, wands and the like.
I still didn't think much of it. But my wife was visibly squirming even more as he continued to play dress-up. "We should really get that tutu back to its rightful owner," she'd say. I asked a few friends for their two cents, wondering if I should care more and the majority said, "Who cares, let him be," while some people who I really thought would give a different answer said, "Get rid of the tutu."
Here we are, lesbian moms, worried about our boy (WHO IS ONLY 3!) loving dress-up. For the record, he is just as content putting on his Hulk hands, Superman cape, policeman shirt (OK, it's a bib) and fireman outfit -- not usually all at once, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did. So, why the immediate "oh no" response from the moms? After ignoring my wife's discomfort, I figured we should finally talk about it.
I asked her: "What's the big deal? OMG. He likes princess dresses and tutus, what does that matter? He wants to have his toenails painted, so what?" I asked her why her immediate response seemed like panic. She responded:
I know he's so little. And I know it probably means nothing. And I know we will love him to the ends of the earth if he wants to wear tutus when he's 40. But we know what it's like to feel judged or different and I just have this little small pain in my heart that I don't ever want him to face any hatred or horribleness that the outside world may level against him. Does that make sense?
It does make sense, and I get it. I don't want my precious little boy to be at the receiving end of bullying, discrimination, violence or just plain ignorance. Who does? But two things: 1) He's flippin' 3 years old. I'm not even going to dare to project what trying on dresses at 3 would mean when he's 9, 19 or 29; and 2) Why not let him be fabulous? I want him to keep that "what do I care what people think" outlook because we are so busy quashing individuality in kids that they grow up to be adults who then spend all their time seeking out who they really are. If Dylan had his way, he would wear a Spider-Man mask as a hat, red rain boots, a sleeveless shirt with his policeman bib over it and plaid shorts with mommy's belt. Add a pink tutu and he'd be over the moon. And then he'd jump onto his quad and ride around like daredevil.
And I say, more power to him.