The Boy Who Wears Bows

We are in a new time in our lives. When I was growing up, the ideas of what boys wear and what girls wear were pretty established.

Now, if you were growing up like me, it was okay to be a tomboy. You could wear boys’ clothing and play sports and video games and it was no big deal. But if you were a boy, the same gender neutrality wasn’t the case.

I have a son and a daughter. My son is the baby so he follows his sister everywhere. She is a tomboy in princess’s clothing. She wears dresses, does her hair, and puts on a necklace and then goes to climb mountains and play baseball. There is no separation of what is acceptable for her to do or wear from any other child.

My son likes to do the same thing his sister does plus a few things she didn’t do. He loves cars and trains and trucks in a way she was never into. And he will participate in all of it with a bow on his head. He sees his sister wear bows and asks for them as well. Because we have never established something was a “girl thing” or a “boy thing”, we put the bow on and let him rock it.

It definitely raises interest especially in our South Asian circles. We have heard “that’s for girls” a few times. But really is it? Or is it just something that we have established as a “girl thing” in society? If boys were given a fair chance to express themselves, would they themselves have immersed in the bow culture?

The next question that arises is what happens when my son wants to wear something else his sister wears. What about princess dresses or necklaces or bangles?

What do we do when we have let the kids live in a gender neutral zone where they can be free to do or wear whatever they want? Is it better to follow society’s gender norms at least for now so we can protect our son from the chance of being bullied until he can understand how to protect himself? Would we follow the same rules of parental protection as we would with climbing structures and riding bikes? Would we do whatever we could to protect them in the real world until the real world catches up with the way we think?

As parents, what is the correct path? I don’t know if there is one. I think we are in a new territory where children have the freedom to become who they really are, who they are truly comfortable with. I want to be able to be there for my children for whatever choices they make. I want to be there for them to fall back on and to be their shield when they need it. My parents did that for me when I was breaking society’s norms and I don’t want to be any less for my kids.

It may turn out that our son doesn’t care for “girl things” as he gets older. It may turn out that he loves them.

It may turn out that he may go on to drive monster trucks with a multitude of bows in his hair.

Inspiration

Has anyone else ever wondered why there aren’t more people representing India in the Olympics? India has over a billion people and another who knows how many around the world. How do we end up going to the Olympics with maybe 30 representatives?

We watched an Indian movie this past weekend called “Bhaag Milka Bhaag”, literally meaning “Run, Milkha, Run”. It was about Milkha Singh who participated in the Olympics in the late 50s, early 60s. It was such an inspiring movie about a man who found a way to make something of himself even though he had lost a lot when the partition happened in India in 1947.

I really hope this movie inspires others at it has inspired me. I hope that the kids growing up in India realize that they do have the opportunity to really do something great in this world if they just put their efforts into it. I don’t want to assume anything, considering I don’t live there and don’t know if part of the reason that Indians don’t have a great presence in the Olympics is due to politics or money or some other reason unknown to me.

I have two little cousins who are maybe about 10 years old that have been born and raised in India. Both of them are fantastic swimmers and have been winning competitions as long as they have been swimming. I know at least one of them has her heart set on participating in the Olympics one day. I can only hope that this dream does come true and we get to cheer her on in a few years.

So why doesn’t India have a more dominating presence in these international games? I know they do in some sports (I’d like to say namely cricket) but what about everything else? We can’t possibly have no one who can compete in swimming, track, gymnastics. Are people in India so caught up in becoming actors or models that sports just isn’t as important?

I look forward to the day where the country of my heritage can be competitive in these international forums.