Donovan: "Mommy, your hair is too long. It is long like sisters' hair. You should cut it."
Me: "I've been thinking about getting a hair cut. How short would you like it?"
Donovan: "It should be shorter."
Me: "But what should it look like? Should it go down to my shoulders, or my chin or my ears, or should it be short like Daddy's?"
Donovan: "No, it should be short like mine, but shorter." (This is basically a shaved head.)
Donovan: "When I am a grown-up, I want somebody to grow in my belly." I didn't have the heart to tell him he can't. Since I have committed to honesty with my children, I couldn't think of anything to say at all. I sat silently, touched that he values motherhood, feeling for him a bit heartbroken over the absence of that opportunity.
I love that he is the age that most children are becoming rigid in their expectations of gender roles, and he still doesn't care at all. I've known so many four year olds who think anyone with short hair is a boy and anyone with long hair is a girl, and yet he wants me to cut all my hair off. He still wears pink sparkly sunglasses with his Superman shirt, wants to be a mommy when he grows up (a mommy who works in a stereotypically male career as a police officer, recently changed from fire fighter), and practices his "karate" kicks with his painted toenails.
I know that society will eventually teach him everything it expects of him as a boy and future man - both good and bad. I hope he will only internalize those expectations that are the right fit for him and help him grow. I hope he will feel a small sting of disappointment when he does eventually learn that he can't be pregnant, and I hope he will admit it freely to other men and to women. I hope he will take the space I have given him to be his own person and fill it up with the humanity I know is within him and the values I try to teach him. I hope he will fill himself with integrity, courage, compassion, and respect, and shine that light out into the world, teaching other men that it's okay to be themselves, and teaching them to respect women and to respect men who don't fit our society's narrow constraints on acceptable masculinity.
It's not too much to hope for, and it's not too much to fight for, either. May I raise him so that his strong, loving, and open-minded soul grows and blossoms.
Two links before I go:
1. Patrick Stewart shows himself to be this kind of man
2. The original "All boy" post