“How does he feel being the only boy in the class?” I was told she was an older lady asking about my son in his ballet class and the minute I heard it, I knew that I was glad I hadn’t heard it myself.
“I don’t think he’s even really aware he’s the only boy.” Was the response from his grandmother who had taken him that week. She was a lot more tactful than I might have been.
Let me get right down to it, we live in Vermont. If we were living in New York City the ratio of girls to boys in a dance class wouldn’t be so drastic. It would be probably as common as Little League is here, it’s just something boys do.
Now, I’m sure this innocent woman meant no harm in her comment. Most likely she was trying to make small talk, there’s only so much four year old kissing themselves in a full length mirror you can watch. But what she did do is open up a huge can of worms that I have a hard time putting the lid back on.
Last year during my son’s recital practice, I heard an older sibling of one of the girls on stage whisper to his mom,
“There’s a boy on stage!” His mom leaned over and said,
“Boys dance too.” And with those simple words, maybe that mother opened her son’s mind to other possibilities.
My son is on the spectrum and for a very long time, one of the things he loved was watching old Gene Kelley movies over and over again. Gene Kelley became a hero of his. During a session with his therapist at the time, she gave the wonderful suggestion of a dance class. It might be a way for him to connect with other children on a level we already know he likes.
I enrolled him right away and he has loved every minute of going.
We’ve come so far as a society. But it’s comments like the ones I’ve heard, that make me think there is still plenty of work to do.
The light that comes to a child’s eye when they’re doing something they love doesn’t have any concept of gender, that’s something we as a society dictate for them.
The stereotypes of a boy with a baseball and bat need to be examined. We’ve come a long way in the world of young girls, no one thinks at all of a young girl playing t-ball. But our boys are missing out in knowing there’s just as much safety in choosing to spend an afternoon in tap shoes rather than cleats.
I remember wanting to get a book for my son about dancing. The only ones available were ones about girls. It’s sad that at only four my son is already being discriminated against in the literary world.
This whole gender thing. It’s really my achilleas heel since having these kids. I hate the fact that the world only sees my kid’s gender and extrapolates what the rest of their life will look like.
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair when it happens to me and it’s feels worse when it happens to them.
Boys dance society. Girls play baseball. It has nothing to do with what’s between their legs and everything to do with what’s in their heart, the part of the human body I think we should be focusing a lot more on.