My daughter thought I was a boy for the first 2 years of her life.
One day, as she was sitting on the toilet, she showed off her knowledge of sex and gender.
“Mommy, I a girl.”
“And Daddy a girl and you a boy.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Cuz you have breastses and daddy and me no have breastses.”
“Well, believe it or not, I’m a big girl.”
She thought for a few moments, puzzling. Then her eyes lit up.
“You a different kind of girl!”
“Yes, a grown-up girl, and Daddy is actually a boy.”
“But me and Daddy no have breastses. We same.” She pronounced.
“When you get big like me, you will grow breasts. But Daddy won’t.”
She smiled, then her eyes grew big.
“Can I lose my breastses?”
Then I remembered – her great-Oma just had both breasts removed due to cancer.
A few days later she came running to me, her eyes full of sadness.
“Mom, daddy doesn’t have a vulva!” (We have an open bathroom door policy when no guests are there.)
She was really concerned for her poor daddy who was obviously missing something. Take that, Freud!
Since then, she has begun to construct gender. Which are basically rules about what boys and girls can or can’t do or look like.
Apparently, girls can’t have short hair. So, many girls and women she knows are actually boys. My hair is shortish, and she still is confused about how I can be female and have shorter hair than my brothers who I keep telling her are boys. Her baby sister has almost no hair. Very confusing.
Women are supposed to have breasts, so a few months ago she actually went up to different people and felt their chests to figure out if they were boys or girls. My poor aunt has short hair and no cleavage. Apparently, Gramama is a boy too. (I get my A cups honestly.)
Boys can’t paint their faces. Boys can’t wear skirts. Or sit on chairs at the kitchen. Or eat candy. Not allowed. (She now allows boys to sit at the table.)
Girls can wear dresses. Girls can paint their faces and nails. Girls can dance.
All kids can play with guns and drive motorcycles.
Girls can get married. Boys can be married occasionally. Queens get to marry princesses all the time. Princes can marry a princess sometimes. Kings can never get married “cuz they are mean.”
Some of these things I know she gets from the neighbour kids. Some of it she makes up while trying to understand her world. Some of it … I have no idea!