#7: Christie Carson-Ginger: Why my daycare apologized for referring to the boys as ‘boys’

Why my daycare apologized for referring to the boys as ‘boys’

I am the mother of an almost 3-year old son. Or at least that’s what I think he is. I call him a he. He has a penis. On my ultra-sound, the tech told me it was a boy. There may come a day when he tells me he wants to be a she or a they or reaffirm his he status, or go back and forth as young children often do and adolescents and adults less often do. And I will happily continue to love him/her/they when that comes up, but for now we are going with he and he hasn’t told me otherwise.

So a few weeks ago, my son in all his two-and-three-quarters attitude, was upset with me for interfering with his mess-making and told me to “Go to sleep, boys!”. His way of saying “Get lost!”. I can only assume he repeated it from daycare. He goes to a small, family-run home daycare where the 4 children that attend all happen to be boys. I thought it was pretty funny and later told his daycare teacher about it. She apologized and mentioned it was probably one of the other teachers and she would ask her to correct her language. They use the term ‘children’ to refer to the kids, or some other affectionate terms like ‘you silly monkeys!’. But definitely not boys.

Why? Well, she doesn’t want to assume the children’s gender. I’ve learned that schools in our district are going this route as well. It’s “children” not “boys and girls”. Seems a lot of effort for a group of toddlers who I figured, probably don’t know the difference. However, it’s a lot of baggage to project an entire gender on such a small child and all the stuff that goes with that, especially if they feel otherwise.

My son knows he is a boy, or at least that’s what he says he is, based on what he thinks that means. Penis? Check. Ok, you are a boy. What else makes a boy? According to him, it’s having a penis, not wearing dresses, and not having a menstrual cup (he has taken a slightly unsettling interest in mine after seeing it in the bathroom). The rest, he has not yet said is boy stuff, but he has strong, STRONG, preferences for cars, trucks, airplanes, garbage trucks, pickup trucks, tractors, trains, helicopters, cherry pickers, street sweepers, front-loading bulldozers, combine harvesters, hay bailers and any other kind of motor vehicle has can imagine. Yes, he knows all the names. I gave him a baby doll 2 Christmases ago, which has gone largely ignored, much to my disappointment. He hates My Little Ponies, even though I try and push it on him because of the friendship message. The treatment of the child as a boy or a girl starts from even before they are born, that it’s impossible for him to not have strong feelings about it one way or the other. I like to think I try to present gender-neutral norms or a mix of traditional boy and girl norms, but I’m not perfect and he likes what he likes.
In the event that a boy feels like a girl or girl feels like a boy, a change in language goes a long way. But with boys and girls who feel like the boys and girls they’ve been called since birth, it can go a long way, too.

Here’s what I’m imagining to happen when a classroom is divided by girl and boy labels:

“Boys, settle down!”

Message: Boys are disruptive and rowdy.

“Girls, can you please help put away the art supplies?”

Message: girls are helpful, especially with arts and crafts

So then let’s assume you, amazing parent, are reading this because you want to do things differently for your own children. However, given your own bias of gender roles that probably started from before birth and every day since then through no fault of your own… can you promise that when you are referring to a group of boys you are only going to ever refer to gender-neutral activities? Or that the teachers can, every single time? No? Me neither. Saying ‘children’ instead is easier.


Christie Carson-Ginger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More about Christie:
Christie is a marketing professional who lives in Toronto and is a mother to one son born in 2014.
She joined Boys Will Be Boys in 2017 when she spotted the very first blog post and knew this was something that fit her parenting values. Coming from a very large family of many strong women, she found she lacked both personal knowledge and online resources of guiding principals for boys. She was determined to raise a self-assured son with a strong social conscience, emotional intelligence and someone that knows that whomever he is in life, his mom has got his back.

A semi-crunchy-granola mom, Christie embraces cloth diapers and homemade laundry detergent. When not working or raising her son, she can be found running, trying to introduce friends to her favourite podcasts or snuggling with her dog, Batman.

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#4: Can we Change the World?

Can We Change The World?

Like millions of people, I was aghast at the outcome of the US election in November 2016. As a Canadian, it might seem nonsensical to have such a strong reaction to a foreign election. For me, it wasn't, as many people would have you believe, about liberalism or conservatism, left or right. It wasn't about a reasonable difference in political ideology or garden variety disappointment in an election outcome. It wasn't about being sad that a female candidate lost; far from it, in fact.

It was that for the first time, my worst fears about the existence of hate had become really and truly evident. I knew that it existed, of course, but I had underestimated the scale of it. There's a lot of discussion and analysis about the election results and not all of them point to misogyny and racism and xenophobia. But I don't think it can be denied that these were a major factor in many circles. And for the first time, I felt real, genuine fear: fear that the enormous American cultural influence will negatively impact billions of us around the world.

And what I also realized, as truly humbling as it was, is that my privilege in life had largely insulated me from this fear for so long. The fear that so many other people from less privileged backgrounds see and feel on a daily basis had largely bypassed me until now. I'd felt anger, I'd felt injustice, and I'd seen and experienced firsthand how misogyny operates. But I'd never felt fear before, and I'm ashamed that it took this fear to really wake me up.

This project is overwhelming in its scope, and I suppose the pessimist would say that it can't be done, that it's too big: reshaping our culture by tackling attitudes of toxic masculinity. This attitude was so obviously a factor in the American election and is serving as a catalyst for the rise in outspoken extremism and hatred. This extremism was always there, but it seems like it has now been given legitimacy.

And it's true: this is a huge and daunting undertaking. But we have to start somewhere. And if this project can help change the conversation, can help be a positive light in a darkening world, or can help someone, somewhere, then I think it's worth it. If we've challenged the status quo in some small way, we've changed that tiny piece of our world.

 

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#3: Help Wanted!


Help Wanted!

As this is a grassroots, community-driven site, we are always looking for new contributors. If you are interested in finding good quality, evidence-based resources for the library and social media pages, we want to hear from you. We also need writers to create original content.

And if you're an educator, we will soon be launching lesson plans and other educational resources for teachers geared at boys. We would love to feature your contributions, and we would love for you to use our plans.

Please email us to find out how you can get involved.

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#2: Why Boys Will Be Boys?

Why Boys Will Be Boys?

"Boys will be boys" is the old adage used to excuse or explain behaviour by boys and young men, whether as something as innocuous as rowdiness to something as serious as impaired driving or sexual violence.

I don't agree that boys will be boys in that sense, and this phrase has justified so many destructive behaviours over generations. I believe that boys need to be able to see that there is a huge range of diverse behaviour, experiences and identities that make them boys beyond this. Among many other things, boys will be:

Funny

Serious

Active

Still

Quiet​

Loud

Happy

Sad

Angry

Loving

Confident

Uncertain

Playful

Reflective

Laughing

Crying

Outgoing

Introverted

Athletic

Artistic

Human

I wanted this site to turn the traditional meaning of the phrase in its head. Boys will be whoever they may be. And being a boy must never be used to excuse violent and dangerous anti social behaviour. All boys are worth so much more than that.

 

Amber Pohl
Founder

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#1: Welcome to Boys Will Be Boys!

On July 11, 2013, I gave birth to a son. After the dust settled (does it ever really settle with small children?), I began to notice that there was a wealth of wonderfully empowering resources for girls and young women, which is absolutely necessary.

But I started to realize that there is a major gap in comparable resources for boys. I'd often notice something geared to girls on, say, sex education or gender roles, and I'd think that this is something that boys need to see, too. If we want to move to an equitable and just world, we really need to focus on educating boys and young men on a range of topics that seem to focus mainly on girls while boys get left behind. Toxic masculinity is so pervasive and it harms everyone, not just men, just like misogyny harms everyone, not just women. I believe that educating boys is a big part of this equation.

And so I decided to create this site, and its associated social media pages, in the hopes that it might help change the conversation around toxic masculinity and to provide positive and evidence-based resources to help boys and young men. It's intimidating in many ways, and I have a lingering fear of getting it wrong. But I've decided that it's important and that the project's possible value should be greater than my fear. Our fear of making mistakes or not getting it right all the time shouldn't stop us from trying to make a difference.

I'm actually somewhat reluctant to present this as a project created by a mother, because I find that our society actually often devalues the contributions of moms: they're often seen as cute or light or overly earnest or worrying or what have you. And I think that toxic masculinity is much, much deeper than something that stereotypically silly mommies worry about, as it impacts every single one of us, mothers or not. We have a long way to go.

I sincerely thank you for visiting this site at its launch, and I also gratefully thank our community contributors. I must also thank the talented Bianca Smalley, who designed the look and feel of the site and whose input on this project has been invaluable.

I hope that you find something useful in the site's contents as it continues to grow.

Amber Pohl
Founder

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