Friday, May 1, 2009

Gender Identity

A typical question family, friends and strangers will ask when you and your partner is expecting is whether you know the gender of the expectant bub - or simply, "do you know if it's a boy or girl?

For many, the surprise on the birth day is the best thing. For others, knowing the gender can help, in their minds, decide what they do with the nursery, and preparing clothes and toys. It's fine if you are a firm believer of the "boys should be blue and girls should be pink" school of thought. Also, if you are inclined in sending your child to a prestigious private school, then you would be able to register your (expectant) bub on the waiting list before birth - handy huh?

We wanted a surprise for our first born and while I, as future dad quietly wished for a boy (and don't the majority of first-time dads?), a beautiful and gorgeous healthy daughter was the new member of our family.

That was four years ago. Three years ago, last March, we had an ultrasound to confrim the prospective birth of not one, not two, but three bubs - at the same time. Over the ensuing weeks, we had verification that the likely combination would be two boys and one girl. While I don't entirely recall whether we asked to find out at the time, it certainly assisted us in identifying each in the womb at every ultrasound appointment.

However, what I'd like to discuss is the subject of gender identity as a toddler - the stage at which our trio are currently experiencing. It's a time when they are developing their expressions and language skills, beginning to understand each other and others through communication in play.

Dressing up is a very popular past-time with our tribe; Saffiya, the elder, has a handful of princess and fairy costumes, and both she and Soraya will quite often don these costumes, to be copied by Zak wanting to do likewise. Zak has also gone through a phase where he would insist on wearing one of sister's skirts (over his shorts).

Initially, as a dad, this was peculiar and I would attempt to discourage Zak and his dressing up ways - after all, how soon would it be before he got into borrowing his mum's make-up?.

In the end, I appreciated that this was all good in the growth and development of self-expression. Perhaps he is so metro-sexual or that he is in touch with his feminine side or he dreams of becoming a footy player and decided to prepare for Mad Monday celebrations.

But one thing I have to add is as a toddler, Zak has a wonderful sense of logic. Somewhere along the way, someone had told him that boys don't dress in princess or fairy costumes, only girls do. So now, he replies, "I'm a girl, I can dress up".

You think Zak is mixed up - not really. Ask him how different boys are to girls and he will simply explain the anatomical difference - he knows he is a boy.

No comments: