(This post was originally written two and a half years ago)
It’s been a little over a year since my little superhero-tomboy Allie decided that she wanted to wear boy clothes. Yes, boy clothes. Like down to the underwear. Allie had just started a new preschool with the majority of her classmates being boys. You see, Allie has always had a mind of her own and this was a decision she made.
Initially I struggled with the idea of my little girl wearing boy clothes; for no other reason than I just like little girls clothes. I like the flair and bows and leggings and bright colors and cute boots. Well, that ended abruptly for me when Allie came home one day from school and refused to wear the pink daisy panties. I had just bought her pink panties as we were deep into potty training. She asked for superhero panties and it occurred to me that she very well could potty train faster if she had the panties of her choice.
So, I went and purchased her some little boy ninja turtle panties because at the time I couldn’t find superhero panties for girls. Well, that was all it took. Once she put those superhero panties on, she would never again wear another pull-up nor would she have any accidents. El’ fanito. As you can imagine, I was thrilled. That was easy.
Well, the superhero panty purchase was just the beginning. Since then I have not made one girly purchase for Allie. Her entire closet quickly transitioned from tutu skirts and bright girly colors to nothing but superheroes and all things boy. It was tough to swallow at first, but I quickly realized something…I want Allie to be comfortable in her own skin, to choose who she is as an individual and what she likes. I did not feel the need to force her into something that contradicts her individuality. She is my tomboy. She is my athletic, strong-willed, happy little tomboy that has a right to choose even at three-years old that she wants to wear boy clothes.
Some people are very bothered by this. It makes me giggle because I find it absurd that anyone would find this troubling. On so many levels is this absurd, but to each their own. I have actually enjoyed the conversations that have come from this. The conversations either start with a high-five that we allow our daughter to be her own individual followed by how adorable she is and they love her confidence at such a young age. Or they start by asking how long we are going to let this go on and if we worry about Allie? Worry about her? Are you kidding me? Allie is a rock star and the only thing I need to worry about with this girl is if she remembered to wash her hands after using the restroom.
Allie had her Christmas program two nights ago at school. The program started by a procession of all the sweet children in her school walking down the aisle of the church to take their place on stage. As the procession of children started, we all watched as the sweet little girls and boys all decked out in their Christmas wardrobes were smiling and waving at their parents. All the little boys marched in with Christmas sweaters and slacks and the little girls were all decked out in super frilly Christmas dresses sporting huge matching bows. And then came our sweet tomboy, Allie. She walked in sporting the red sweater and black slacks that I purchased from the boys section of Target. We all started giggling because Allie had both hands tucked confidently in her pockets, smiling as big as she could; comfortable in her own skin and ready to take the stage to sing her heart out in honor of the birth of our Lord, Jesus.
And that my friends, is my sweet Allie in all of her tomboy glory.
As many of you know, my six-year-old daughter, Allie, is the inspiration behind Crossing Arrows. It was her spirited taste and desire to wear boy clothes that led to the creation of Crossing Arrows. Although Allie is the face of Crossing Arrows, my 12-year-old, Grace, is a huge inspiration to me as well. She doesn’t get enough credit for all that ways she contributes to Crossing Arrows. She is my model, encourager and helps with a lot of the social media side of the business. So, let me introduce her.
Meet Grace Elizabeth Louise. Grace is the sweetest, most compassionate and giving girl I have ever met. Her wit and humor make me laugh EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! She is passionate about her academia and works diligently every day. She is a stud at soccer and on the volleyball court. Grace also plays viola and lights up any room she walks into. She has the most giving spirit of anyone I know. Can you tell I am super proud to be her mom?
One thing about Grace, she rarely ever gets in trouble. She has been the easiest child to raise. She hates to disappoint and makes parenting a pre-teen so fun and enjoyable. We truly laugh a lot. Here are just a few pics to prove that.
Grace’s favorite things in life include…dogs, soccer, volleyball, teaching herself gymnastics, working tirelessly on the trampoline to nail her front handspring, makeup, spending time with her friends and loving on her super awesome mom (okay so she may argue the super awesome part). Oh and let me not forget her favorite thing…taking selfies with a double chin. She sends me random double chin pics throughout the week. HILARIOUS!! She thinks it is hilarious and what I love about her, she posts them on her social media accounts. How funny is that? The boys love her and she could care less, she is who she is and doesn’t hesitate to share her silliness with everyone. I LOVE her lack of reservations…even at her age.
So, about a month ago Grace got her phone taken away for a bad choice she made when she was with her friends. A very innocent bad choice but I wanted to teach her a lesson, so no phone for a week.
After the second day of no phone, I received a string of images on my phone sent from the iPad at home that read: This is me without my phone. I hope you’re enjoying this cruelty.
So, here she is folks…Grace in all of her hilarious and witty glory! Isn’t she the coolest? I promise when she’s old enough to have a boyfriend, he will be shown these pics.
We were recently featured in the April edition of 435 Kansas City’s Magazine. We thought Allyson did an incredible job of capturing our story so, we wanted to share it with you. A huge shout out to Allyson Wilson! Thank you for all the ways you showed excitement for our brand and our story!
IN THE SPIRIT
KANSAS CITY MOM TRICIA STEFFES CELEBRATES TOMBOYS WITH CROSSING ARROWS.
words Allyson Wilson
Many parents know to pick their battles with kids, but Tricia Steffes decided to pick her battles with something much bigger: gender stereotypes.
Through her children’s clothing brand, Crossing Arrows, the Kansas City mother of two calls to spirited girls, a.k.a. tomboys, by empowering them to embrace their individuality with fun and high-energy clothing while fighting gender stereotypes.
Created in 2016, the brand was inspired by Steffes’ own experiences with her magnetic, spunky and spirited daughter, Allie.
At 2 years old, Allie decided she had no interest in princesses or the color pink; she much preferred to express herself through boy clothes. After two and half years of struggling to get her daughter into anything girly, Steffes gave Allie’s way a try, letting her shop in the boys’ section. Not only did she notice a difference in her daughter, but she also saw a need for more options for girls like Allie.
“I’ve gotten such incredible feedback from people who have purchased from us – from parents, people who have come across our line and gone, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish they had that when I was a kid.’ It’s nice to know that we are making an impact.” – Tricia Steffes
“I realized over time how many children were more confident wearing what made them happy,” Steffes recalls, “And I realized that parents wouldn’t let their little girls wear boy clothes because of gender stereotyping. So that’s when I decided, ‘OK, I’m going to design a line of clothing that allows little girls to dress how they want without the stigma of being called a boy.”
Crossing Arrows appeals to every kind of girl – from the rough-and-tumble athletic tomboys, to the creative, academic minds like Steffes’ older daughter Grace – through products like superhero capes, leggings and Rowen Christian couture jeans. Its best-seller is its collection of graphic tees printed by H&H Bandwagon. The tees are emblazoned with fun and encouraging messages, like “Superhero Ninja Princess” – because some girls want to be all three, Steffes says – “Donut Holes Not Gender Roles,” “Future Coder” and “Be Adventurous.”
Designs like the “Squad Goals” tees feature real-life, literary and film heroes that girls are familiar with (think Ellen DeGeneres, Maya Angelou, Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger and Disney’s Moana and Mulan) while introducing them to new ones like Anne Shirley, Cassie Logan (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird).
Steffes found that adults want to celebrate their inner spirited girls, too. The company originally launched with children’s sizes, but after receiving an abundance of emails from mothers and other spirited girls wondering if they could get shirts in adult sizes, Steffes happily obliged.
“It’s fun,” she says. “I’ve gotten such incredible feedback from people who have purchased from us – from parents, people who have come across our line and gone ‘Oh my gosh, I wish they had that when I was a kid.” It’s nice to know that we are making an impact.”
Steffes wants Crossing Arrows to not only clothe children, but to also be platform for child advocacy, something she’s been passionate about since college. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales benefit organizations like Harvesters and the Kansas City Child Protection Center.
In addition to new graphic tee designs, Steffes is in the works of adding a raglan T-shirt dress, a bomber jacket and drop-crotch pants to her arsenal. She hopes to incorporate gender-neutral pieces, underwear, swimwear and pajamas in the brand, and she plans to host events geared towards empowering, encouraging and inspiring girls.
For more information, visit crossing-arrows.com.
We are honored to have partnered with the Kansas City Child Protection Center, a nationally recognized child advocacy center.
As many of you know, child advocacy is our first passion. We have always said that Crossing Arrows has a higher purpose than just clothing children. We are empowering children through clothing AND child advocacy. We will live out our promise to help serve children in need as well as the organizations who provide life changing services. We chose to partner with CPC because we believe in their mission and believe that our purpose with Crossing Arrows is to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and for us, that’s children.
The mission of the Child Protection Center is to respect the child and protect their voice throughout the investigation of child abuse.
The CPC accomplishes its mission by providing a safe, child-friendly setting in which to interview child abuse victims, coordinating investigative team services as well as mental health and medical services, and providing supportive services to assist children and their families begin the path toward healing.
Please take a few moments and watch our interview to find out how the purchase of our child advocacy shirt will benefit children who experience child abuse or witness homicide.
You can get your child abuse prevention shirt here.
“I didn’t give you the gift of life, but in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, as if it had been so. For us to have each other is like a dream come true. No, I didn’t give you the gift of life; life gave me the gift of you.”
I was given a heart for children very early in life and I knew that I never wanted my passion for children to go untouched. I wasn’t sure exactly all the ways my life would be impacted by this passion, but I was certain adoption was one of them.
Before I was ever in a position to become a mother, I knew that my life would be touched by adoption. For years, it was on the forefront of my mind to adopt a child internationally. I had researched international orphanages in high school and some of the conditions of orphanages would bring me to tears and ignited in me an unquenchable desire to speak up for the children that could not speak for themselves. So, I began praying that God would bless me with a child through adoption and every time I prayed that prayer, I always envisioned a child with exotic looks, dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin. This was often the appearance of the children that I saw in the photos.
Let’s fast forward to 2010. I was a single mother to my sweet princess, Grace. At the time she was 5 years old and I was on my way to law school, having just finished my Master’s Degree. Grace and I had a routine down that was beautiful and full of happiness. We would no more than get a foot in the kitchen of our new home and the music would be going and we were dancing, which often lead to cooking together and painting fingernails and cuddling until we fell asleep. We had this life together down to a science. Grace often asked me to give her a sister. She wanted so bad to become a big sister and neither of us knew that this would happen much sooner than we anticipated.
It was June of 2010 and my father gave me a call. He proceeded to tell me that he didn’t know what was wrong with my sister but she had been vomiting for two weeks. You see, my older sister, Pamela, suffered from a mental illness that rocked our world and not in a good way. Pam was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and personality disorder at the age of 18. Prior to her diagnosis, she was a straight A student, a phenomenal athlete with colleges beating down our door to offer her scholarships. She was the life of the party and made friends without an ounce of work. She was vibrant and full of life and she made entering my high school years so easy because I was “Pam’s sister.” Everyone loved Pam.
Our lives changed forever in 1998 when Pam’s grades began plummeting, she had no drive to go to school, she took up smoking, was severely angry and quickly turned to drugs. This was not my Pam. The Pam who taught me everything I know about sports. The Pam who spent hours challenging me on the basketball court. The Pam who taught me to be a leader, not a follower. The Pam who was goofy and quick witted.
Pam’s goals were to go to college on a full-ride athletic scholarship which she would conquer with ease accompanied by honors and a 4.0 GPA. She was going to go on to be a brain surgeon and make me an aunt and live a life chalked full of accomplishments. Pam was so determined to become a brain surgeon that one day as children we came across a dead cow in a pond, pulled it to shore and Pam dove into dissecting that cows brain as though she had studied it for years. Disturbing…maybe but she was determined. Unfortunately Pam’s life was robbed by this horrible illness and the drugs that would follow. She was suddenly faced with a mental illness that is impossible to escape.
Several months before her diagnosis, Pam dove deep into drug addiction. Her internal struggle was masked by drug abuse. We often thought that Pam’s behavior and actions were a result of the drugs, but what we quickly learned after her diagnosis was that people diagnosed with Bi-polar often turn to drugs to cover the pain of the emotional roller-coaster that they are unfamiliar with.
Pam’s drug abuse continued for 12 years which magnified the effects of Bi-polar and we soon realized that we had lost our fun loving, accomplished and vibrant Pamela to an illness and the drugs I hate so deeply. It was drugs that took my sister from me. The next 12 years left my sister’s mind and body abused and beaten by drugs; the illegal drugs that so often destroy families across our nation…across our world, as well as the drugs that filled her prescription medicine dispenser to help her function with her disorder. We slowly watched our girl’s life slipping from us.
For those who have never been affected by a mental illness or drug abuse, count your blessing. It is horrible and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I could write a book about those 12 years and the pain and struggles that my sister and my family experienced and still experience and maybe someday I will, but until then I want to tell you how one tiny little girl took 12 years of pain from my family and turned it into a magical blessing. Her name is Allie.
During that call with my father, I told him that it didn’t sound like Pam was sick, but pregnant. My dad instantly disagreed because doctors had told us that Pam could never get pregnant as a result of some cysts that they found years prior. I listened to my dad try to convince himself that Pam couldn’t possibly be pregnant and when he finished, I quietly encouraged him to take her to the hospital to get tested and so he did.
A few hours later I received another call from my dad and the initial silence followed by his cracked and devastated voice was enough for me to confirm that my sister was in fact pregnant. The devastation that my dad and mom suddenly experienced was for good reason, because after 12 years of Bi-polar combined with extensive drug abuse, we knew that Pam could not physically or emotionally take care of her baby.
Pam could barely take care of herself. We would go months without hearing from Pam, we often worried that we would someday receive a call that Pam’s life had been permanently taken by the daemons we call drugs. My dad had no idea what was going to happen, but I did. I knew in that moment that I would adopt Allie. I was given this overwhelming peace that Allie would be healthy and perfect and she would be my daughter.
I told my dad that I would adopt Pam’s baby but that I wanted to wait for her to ask me. One month later my sister called me and told me she wanted to talk to me. I met her and my parents later that day at Long John Silver’s…Pam’s favorite fast food restaurant. We sat in a red booth tucked away in the back of the restaurant and I sat fidgeting as I knew the question my sister was about to ask. My sister asked me to adopt her baby. She proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t in the position to take care of a baby and I told her that not only would I adopt her baby, but I would love her unconditionally and provide her the life that I know Pam wanted for her.
That moment was bitter-sweet because I knew that Pam loved Allie…I knew that Pam desired with every ounce of her being to take care of Allie, but she couldn’t. What a selfless, courageous decision my sister made for Allie that day. I am forever grateful to Pam for choosing life for Allie.
The next 7 months were emotional and that is quite an understatement. In a nutshell, there were two potential birth fathers of which one didn’t want anything to do with Allie and the other father we had no information on (a white man and a black man), Pam changed her mind more than once and some family members thought that I was forcing Pam into this adoption which created some tension and hard feelings. I also received the same questions over and over again from family and friends. What if Allie was sick, what if Allie was negatively affected by the drug abuse, what if Allie grew up with the same mental illness my sister suffered? My answer was and will always remain, “Then I will love her all the same.” I never questioned for a moment the health of Allie. I knew that God chose me to be Allie’s mom and beyond that, God would get us through anything difficult that came from this.
One very cold and snowy Monday on January 17, 2011 we had the pleasure of meeting our sweet little blessing. Alexandria Kaye-Geneice was born. I had the pleasure of being in the delivery room with my sister. At this point, we were still uncertain who Allie’s birth father was. That question was answered the moment I saw this sweet 5 lb 15 oz baby girl in all of her exotic glory. The child that I always dreamed of adopting from an international orphanage, that exotic child with dark hair, dark eyes and olive skin was lying on the scale and I never imagined that this blessing would be given to me, not from a third world orphanage, but instead my own sister. I was overwhelmed with emotion; crying my eyes out with absolute joy. She was PERFECT! Perfect in every imaginable way.
I was so overcome with happiness that when I went into the waiting room to tell everyone how amazing Allie was, I broke down and sobbed. It was as though all these months of uncertainty and emotion came flooding out of me. I was so madly in love with this sweet bundle and not a day passes that I don’t thank God for choosing me to be her mommy. Pam took such amazing care of Allie while she was pregnant, refusing drugs throughout her pregnancy. God was with Pam and Allie and now we have the most amazing little girl because of it.
The next four days in the hospital were by far the most difficult and emotional days I have ever experienced. Some nurses referred to me as mom, others referred to Pam as mom. Pam loved Allie with that impossible love that mothers feel when seeing their child for the first time. I felt as though I was tearing Allie away from her. I didn’t leave the hospital; I didn’t leave Pam or Allie’s side. We were in the midst of a blizzard in Kansas City during our time at the hospital, so our visitors were few.
I felt guilty…guilt that Pam went through the pain of delivery and a c-section, guilt that Pam wasn’t going to get to raise the child she so deeply loved. Guilt that through this time nurses couldn’t comprehend that Pam was choosing adoption for Allie and guilt when the photographer brought in her laptop of the proofs of pictures of Allie’s first session and the song playing was about taking care of your baby and never leaving their side. It was an incredibly emotional moment for Pam. I had no appetite and got very little sleep. The four days felt like four years.
We left the hospital on the fourth day and I drove Pam home. I sobbed the entire 30 minute trip to my dad’s house. Sobbed uncontrollably, to the point that I couldn’t even see the road. I sobbed because Pam chose life for Allie. I sobbed because Pam wasn’t going to get to raise her baby. I sobbed because I felt as though Pam didn’t fully comprehend the depth of pain she would feel over the following years not getting to see Allie every day. At one point I felt selfish for crying and Pam looked at me and said, “Sis, why are you crying? Don’t be sad for me; be happy that Allie will have a great life.” Pam has been so selfless and strong through this and I will forever admire her strength. I will forever be indebted to Pam for the blessing that she gave to us.
My family has been so supportive with the adoption and even those who were initially skeptical now understand that this adoption was arranged beautifully by the God that chose to bring Allie into this world.
Pam and Allie have a very close relationship. The most special thing is how often Allie at the age of three-years old asks about her Aunt PK and she is always the first person Allie prays for at nighttime prayers. Allie doesn’t know the story of her life yet, but deep down she knows something is very special about her Aunt PK and I can’t wait for her to be old enough for us to tell her the whole story. I know that Allie is going to grow up to be the woman that Pam was never given the opportunity to be.
I want to end with this…my sister didn’t choose to live a life of drug abuse and mental illness. If Pam was given the choice she would have chosen the path of surgeon and mother. Pam is still the vibrant, fun-loving person that we have always known and we still get to see that part of her occasionally. The good in Pam is still a part of who she is; it’s just often suppressed by her illness and the mind that has been devastated by drugs.