My son (aka The Boy) is in summer camp all day, five days a week. I love it. Our city camp is amazing. The kids are busy all day. They swim, go to movies, take great field trips (They took a cruise around Manhattan yesterday. I was SO jealous!) and he comes home happy and tired. But he's also around new kids, some a bit older, and he's at the age when he's starting to pick up ... things. Here's an interesting conversation we had in the supermarket the other day:
The Boy says, "Look, Mommy. Look. I'm walking like a girl." He bends his arms up, lets his wrists go limp, then proceeds to skip/flounce quickly down the aisle singing, "Walkin' like a girl, Walkin' like a girl," in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.
I won't lie, it was funny as hell. Like stop-pushing-the-cart-and-grab-your-belly funny. But then again, it wasn't funny. Obviously, it required some addressing. So I say, "But I'm a girl."
I can see from his face that the gears are turning, but they haven't quite clicked into place yet. "Yeah ... You're a girl." he says suspiciously
"Right. So I guess I should walk like that," I say.
Now he's laughing.
"Is that how girls really walk?" I ask when he stops laughing. "Does your sister walk like that? Or Grandma?"
More laughter. The image of his grandmother skipping around like that actually cracked me up again, too. But then he says, real thoughtful-like, "No. It's not really how girls walk. It's how boys say girls walk. Or it's how boys walk when they act like girls."
"Yeah, but really girls and boys both walk pretty normally." I say
"Yeah." he says.
I left it at that. It wasn't a big deal, I just want him to know that stereotypes like that are silly. But then again, silly 6-year-old generalizations left unchecked (i.e. girls walk like this, girls can't do that, boys have to do this...) can turn into some really ugly generalizations down the road. And with the amount of stuff that kids are exposed to today (even more than when my daughter was his age 9 years ago) I'm going to do my best to stay on top of it.
This morning he asked me what sexy meant. First grade is going to be completely different from kindergarten isn't it?