My Daughter Wants to be a Boy!

Tomboy

I came across this article by Lisa Selin Davis and had to share.  Lisa does an absolutely beautiful job of capturing the emotions that most parents feel about how to navigate the responsibility of parenting a tomboy.

Lisa opens her article with this profound statement, “When my daughter turned out to be a tomboy rather than a princess, the feminist in me was relieved…and then worried. Is life harder for girls who defy gender roles and blaze their own trail?”  I am by no means a feminist, but I too worry if life if harder for girls who defy gender roles and blaze their own trail.

I hope you enjoy Lisa’s article as much as I did.

On the first day of school after winter break, all of the girls at my daughter’s preschool were sporting their new Christmas duds: Sarah with her pink cowboy boots; Jane in her sparkly cardigan; and my daughter, dressed in her white button-down shirt (“like Daddy’s”), draped over a Spiderman t-shirt, and her navy clip-on tie with a pattern of white reindeer. She had asked Santa for a solid black tie, but we couldn’t find a toddler tie quite so…adult.

The Anti-Princess Problem

This outfit had been her lone Christmas request, the apex of a gradual, year-long shift toward all things boyish. Enna, 3 and a half, had spent her first couple of years at a daycare where girls were dressed in Disney princess outfits with their nails painted purple and pink. We noted with humor that Enna always looked a bit like a drag queen in such getups, with those frilly, fluffed sleeves drooping over her lumberjack-inspired plaid jacket.

When she switched to a preschool where such outfits were verboten—they keep strips of fabric that can be imagined into any costume—she announced almost immediately that she no longer wanted to play princess. Or, rather, she would play princess with the girls—every single one of whom engineered those malleable yards of gingham or tulle into something from a royal fairytale—but only if she could be the dog, or the police.

My heart swelled with pride. I mean, my only hesitation about having a girl was that I’d have to endure the dreaded princess phase. And—lucky me!—as it turned out, we’d be skipping it.

She insisted on being Spiderman for Halloween, and on getting light-up superhero sneakers “like my friend Luca’s” when she needed new shoes. They told us at school that she gravitated toward the boys, and though she is quite small for her age, and not particularly hearty, they told us she could hold her own with the rowdy bunch of them. 

And again, I thought, “How great is she?”

Well, okay, 90 percent of me said that. The other 10% thought, “uh-oh.” As she started to announce in ways both subtle and direct that she’s a boy, and ask me questions like “Why can’t boys have vaginas and girls have penises?” the ratio of heartwarming to heart-sinking has shifted.

When Kids Gender Bend

Let me say that I don’t hold particularly conventional views about gender or sexuality. There are so many lesbians in my family that I fully expect either or both of my daughters to be gay (though of course I will love and accept them if they turn out to be heterosexual). But there is something about having the only girl who won’t play princess, the only girl in the school who thinks and says she’s a boy, that has shaken me a bit. Dressing like a boy? Cool. Thinking you actually are a boy? Way more complicated.

Feeling fairly confused, I called Peggy Orenstein, author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.” Indeed, she set me straight. Only in America at this time, said Orenstein, would not being a girlie-girl, not identifying as a princess, be seen as a problem. 

Orenstein makes a lot of connections in her book between girls who consume a tremendous amount of media infused with these traditional notions of femininity, of worth defined by beauty, and later life struggles. Such girls are more likely to have low self-esteem, or to have a less pleasurable sex life when they become sexually active, and are less likely to be ambitious. She calls this princess obsession, and the media’s proliferation of it, “a gateway into a femininity defined by consumption, beauty and narcissism.” There is a fairly direct line, she says, between Cinderella and Kim Kardashian.

And, yeah, it would be upsetting to think that my daughter would grow to idolize reality stars with a lifetime’s worth of plastic surgery at 25. But I suppose my fear is about what’s on the other end of that direct line when your kid wants to be the royal dog? Because rejecting the princess model, the modern paradigm of girlhood, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re locked in for a lifetime of high self-esteem. It might, in fact, mean the opposite.

Some of my fears for Enna-as-boy are rooted in reality. It’s a much harder way to move through the world, identifying with the gender you weren’t assigned at birth. I fear she’ll be rejected, first for insisting on being the royal police, but later for not participating in a host of feminized activities, from nail-painting to chatting about boys. Already she has separated herself from “the princess girls,” as she calls her classmates (without a drop of derision—it’s just who they are), and they’ve begun to impose their lacey worldview, their appreciation for and demand of beauty, upon her. She told me this week that the princess girls told her not to “scribble scrabble” all over her paper during art time because it’s “not pretty.”

And I’ve already endured the heartbreaking experience of having long-haired, pink-and-purple-clad girlie-girls look at my daughter and say, “Is that a boy or a girl?” Her predilection makes her vulnerable, and that’s what snaps my parental sentry into action. Orenstein says that there is absolutely nothing wrong in rejecting the princess model of play, but she admits that it can be difficult for such resisters. “One of the unfortunate outcomes of this one mode of play is that it excludes and makes freaks out of girls who aren’t into it,” she says. “And that’s really sad.”

Looking at Myself

Enna has made me realize how conservative and old-fashioned some of my ideas about girlhood are. Like most parents, especially parents of girls, I have conflicting desires for my child. I want her to be exceptional, and yet I want her to fit in. I don’t want her to be judged or defined by her looks, but I want her to be adorable. I don’t want her to need male approval, but I want her to have it. It’s embarrassing how relieved I was to hear that one of the boys in her school wanted to marry her, even as I was so unhappy that, at ages 3 and 4, they’re already discussing this subject.

Girls, our society seems to think, should be strong and smart and bold, but also pretty and sweet and demure. Let’s be honest: the ultimate girl is someone who chooses to be a rock star, a spy, or a high-powered politician…but not because she couldn’t get a job modeling. It’s a very high bar for girls these days. They’re expected to grow into women who have careers and run households—big brains and breadwinners—but are still objects of beauty. 

And this is where I struggle. I love that Enna has rejected this restrictive, dominant paradigm of girlhood to forge her own path—it’s exactly what I wanted. But I don’t want her embracing of all things boy to be a rejection of all things girl. I want her to feel pretty enough, worthy enough, to even be a princess if she so desires. When Enna goes to school in a baggy soccer t-shirt, two sizes too big, I find myself worried that she’s expressing low self-esteem sartorially, that some part of her has absorbed the idea that she’s not princess material.

The solution, I think, is to encourage girls to diversify their play, and for Enna to be seen as a trailblazing, ass-kicking cool kid, instead of a freak. Teachers and other parents should celebrate her for introducing other modes of make-believe to the one-note princess girls. “Before the princess onslaught, little girls did play at being dogs and ponies and cats,” says Orenstein. “Now they only play on this one script.” It’s a script my daughter is trying to rewrite, and I’m lucky in that none of the girls, or the boys, at her school rejects her for it…yet. They’re fond of the royal dog, or the royal police, and content to let her play with them. For now.

There’s really only one remaining objection to Enna’s proclivity: we have the loveliest assortment of hand-me-down dresses, ones that currently Enna refuses to wear but that I don’t want to waste. For this, though, I have clear-cut solutions. We wear dresses on Thursdays, and any time she wants to wear her tie, she has to wear a skirt, too. Which she does, as long as she can wear jeans underneath and, as always, her Spiderman shoes.

(Top image from Fashionbank.ru) 

Tomboy Talk: Allie Unfiltered

Allie beach

Meet Amazing Allie.

Allie is 5 years-old and her adventures as a tomboy began at two and a half years old when she started a new school with a classroom full of boys.  Allie became very adamant about not wearing girl clothes and was in the midst of potty training, wearing pink daisy panties, with little luck.  She came home one day after preschool and declared that she wanted a pair of superhero panties and was no longer interested in wearing pink daisies.  I thought that this may be the trick to getting her potty trained and it most certainly was.  We drove to Target as fast as we could without being thrown into jail or putting anyone’s life into danger and bought her first pair of boy superhero panties, because god forbid they print superheroes on girl panties.  Never again did she have an accident and never again did she wear a pull up.  Well, that was easy.  Her closet quickly transitioned from pink, lace and tutus to all things superheroes.  We noticed Allie felt more comfortable and was happier in boy clothes and so began her tomboy independence.

Let’s hear from Allie herself…

TOmboy allie

Are you a tomboy?  What makes you a tomboy?

Yes Mom (insert eye roll)… I don’t like girl clothes and I like to ride my bike and scooter fast and I play tball and am the only tomboy on my team with all boys, but I hit the ball better than the boys and run faster than the boys.  I really love riding on my scooter with you when I can stand on your feet and we go really really fast and you make funny noises like we are going super light speed fast.

Allie Florida

What is your favorite bedtime story?

The story you tell about me being a superhero and the cotton candy villain and how I have to protect a lot of people by defeating the villain and when I finally get him wrapped up in string, he cries and I ask him why he is crying and why he is so mean to people and he said because he has no friends and so we become friends and he wasn’t mean anymore.

Halloween

What is your favorite cartoon or movie?  Why do you like it so much?

Mom, you’re so weird.  You know it’s Sandlot.  I love when they throw up on the rollercoaster and it gets all over everyone.  That’s hilarious.

Allie Soccer

Have you ever been to outer space?  If you’ve never been to outer space, have you ever walked on a rainbow?

No, mom, I have never been to outer space, you silly.  (Insert hand on her forehead)…no silly, I haven’t walked on rainbows either but I know you like me to use my imagimation (pronounced by Allie with an “m”).

If you could have any special power, what would it be?

I would fly really fast and I would help Hulk beat up bad guys.

Sleeping Beauty

Do you like bedtime?

No, I hate bedtime. (Sorry mom, I said hate).  I like when you and dad scratch my back and tell me stories and I like when you sing to me but I don’t like actually sleeping because I don’t like having to wake to go to school and then have to take naps..naps are (insert pause…mom can I say stupid)

Do you get yourself dressed or does someone help you?

Why are you asking these questions mom, you know the answer to these questions ya weirdo.

I then explained to Allie I was interviewing her for the blog.  She rolled her eyes again and asked if she was getting paid.  HAHAHAHA…Love that child!

I dress myself unless I am tired and then I let you and dad help me but I don’t like wearing girl clothes at all and I don’t like when you make me wear a dress to church.

Allie swinging

Do you like getting your hair brushed?  Tell me about that.

Mom…you know I don’t like getting my hair brushed.  Unless you slick it back when it’s wet and I look like a boy.  Can I get a haircut like a boy, mom?

Allie KU

What’s your favorite food?

French fries and popsicles

Do you like jumping in water puddles after it rains?  Does your mom or dad like when you jump into water puddles?

I love jumping in water puddles and playing in the rain but you don’t always let me do that because you don’t like when I get messy.  I keep telling you that you need to buy me rain boots so I can jump in the puddles more.  You don’t know this, but I just do it when you’re not looking.

Allie Captain America

What would you rather be doing than talking to me right now?

Playing baseball in the backyard.  Can we go play baseball now, mom?  I want to hit it over the fence like Benny.

Do you like to draw, paint or color?  Will you have your mom or dad email us a picture of your favorite painting or drawing?  We want to feature it with your interview.

Mom, I am tired of the questions already.  My favorite is painting and yes, you can take a picture of my paintings to put on your blog…I don’t even know what blog means. 

Allie Soccer 1

What was the most fun you had today?

This morning when you were leaving for work in your dress and I squirted you with my new water gun.  That was hilarious. (insert huge grin from Allie)

Allie, you’re the bomb dot com.  Thank you for taking time away from playing baseball so mommy can share how awesome you are with people who read the blog.

(Photos courtesy of yours truly.  Interview by yours truly).

 If you want your tomboy featured, shoot us an email at crossing-arrows@outlook.com and we will be in contact to set up an interview over the phone/skype or send you the questions for you to interview your own tomboy.

 

The Story of Allie

By Tricia Steffes

The picture above was the last image we got of Allie before she decided she was no longer wearing girl clothes.  I wrote this blog post over a year and a half ago about how Allie made the abrupt decision to wear boy clothes and how nothing has changed in two and a half years. 

Enjoy…

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 superhero 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 decisiveness 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.

 

Why Crossing Arrows

By Tricia Steffes

image.png

Okay, okay, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.  Why is our clothing line and blog called Crossing Arrows?  I thought you’d never ask.  A friend shared this poem with me a few years back by Kahlil Gibran.

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
And He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves also the bow that is stable.

arrow

I wanted our children’s clothing line to reflect the significance of these little beautiful beings being arrows and we as parents are the stable bows.  The final name, Crossing Arrows, is a sign of friendship and was suggested by a dear friend of mine who will be joining the team of awesome people working with me to give tomboys what they want…their own identity.

As I mentioned in the About page, the clothing line was inspired by my sweet, funny and adventurous tomboy, Allie.  Go check out our About page to read the full story about Amazing Allie.  She’s pretty Amazing.  You don’t want to miss out on getting to know this little beauty.

Okay, so now…what you’ve all been waiting for, the first 5 designs of the Crossing Arrows clothing line.

Drop Crotch Pants

Tank top with movie quotes and a pair of suspenders

Blue and white checkered button up shirt with a bow tie

Chino crop pants

T-shirt Dress offering different colors and tomboy inspired prints

In addition to our own designs, we will be selling a number of different suspenders, stocking caps, bow ties, ball caps, and super hero box sets.

We can hardly wait to take the store live at www.crossing-arrows.com.

Now that our lame one post blog is moving up in the world with a second post, we ask that you start sharing with your friends and family and getting the word out.  If you know a tomboy, please forward our site to their parents.

Skater kidWe know how tomboys operate, we know how spunky and strong-willed they can be and how they LOVE to express their individuality and their confidence and we are here for just that…to inspire them to express themselves even more through our clothing line.  AND we can’t wait to meet more parents of these tomboys we love so much to learn what designs they would like to see us offer as well as grow a community of friendships and stories.

We will be premiering each of our designs with images in an upcoming post to announce pre-sale orders.  In the meantime, we’d love to hear stories about YOUR tomboy.  Please email us funny stories about your tomboy.  We will start featuring tomboys from around the world.  If you would like your tomboy to be featured, please let us know.  We won’t use last names and we will ask them a series of questions that we want them to answer with pictures.  The first featured Tomboy will be our little inspiration, Allie.

Okay, I think I’ve rebelled enough with this excessively long post.  More coming soon!

(Skater girl photo pulled from Pinterest)

Welcome to Crossing Arrows

By Tricia Steffes

Happy child playing with toy airplane

Welcome to Crossing Arrows.  I did quite a bit of research on what a”first blog post” should offer so that I could sleep better tonight knowing that I threw the first ever Crossing Arrows blog post into the blogging universe where it will just float aimlessly.  What I came up with was this list of what to include in your first ever blog post.

  1.  Be short and direct…yeah that’s not happening.
  2. Use a funny opening sentence…I am not sure readers are ready for my humor yet.
  3. Ask a thought provoking question…how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  4. Ask a multiple choice question…are you stoked about Crossing Arrows? A. YES B. Heck YES C. Heck to the YES
  5. Share a shocking fact or statistic…1 out of 5 kids in America struggle with hunger.  (This statistic shouldn’t exist)
  6. Share something personal…I eat cereal almost every night before bed.  True story and so unhealthy…I know this.

So, there you have it folks.  Here’s my attempt at a first blog post for Crossing Arrows.  No, but on a more serious note, we are glad you visited.  I will be sure to lure you back with amazing give-a-ways, funny stories from parents around the world about their tomboys, parenting advice (because I have this parenting thing down, said no one ever) and a world of other super awesome information about parenting and all things tomboy.

I trust you’re as excited as me and want to shower me with amazing gifts for the creation of such an awesome store that tailors to your tomboy, so you can send any amount of salted caramel dark chocolate to my home address.

The next post is going to be unusually long just because I don’t like following rules and keeping it short is a bit overrated.  In the next post, you will learn about why the name Crossing Arrows, what designs you can expect to go up for pre-sale soon on our site, the super incredible super hero sets that we will soon be selling, and so much more.

Alright, so I would ask you to share this blog with your friends, but right now it’s pretty lame so I won’t do that.  I will wait until my second post when it is less lame. 😉