The boy was 3 when he first strayed from any gender norm. Before that he was just like every other rough and tumble toddler. Happiest when he could splash in puddles and play in the mud.
It happened at the shoe store. His shoes had fallen in to terrible disrepair (on account of all the puddle splashing and mud playing of course) and it was time for a new pair. He was excited and I told him he could pick any pair he wanted. I figured I was in for some flashy light shoes as most of his preschool buddies were wearing them. For the record, I hate those flashy light shoes but I was willing to let him have them if it made him happy.
We strolled the aisles and I picked up various shoes to show him, including the flashy light kind, but he had very little interest. Then we got to an end cap filled with Hello Kitty shoes. He stood there for a moment, completely taken in by these pink and purple kitty adorned shoes. He pointed to a pair of black Mary Janes with a little Hello Kitty face on the buckle. Those were his shoes. I had him try them and on he was completely in love. He wouldn't take them off, insisting he must wear them out of the store. I shrugged my shoulders not thinking much of it at the time. After all, I DID tell him he could choose ANY pair he wanted. Who was it hurting? No one.
Thinking back I think we were lucky because I don't remember getting any negative remarks about his shoes. Does that mean no one made any? Of course not. But at least if they did they didn't make them near me or my son.
That year at Christmas time I also took the boy to see Santa for the first time. I fretted to myself over what he might possibly ask Santa for. My sweet boy with his mop of sandy blonde hair wearing cargo pants and a dragon hoodie along with those ever present Hello Kitty Mary Janes. Over the year he had also amassed some Disney Princess accessories for dress up and had become fascinated with Barbie. What was he going to ask Santa for? I wasn't worried for myself. I don't care what people say about me. I was worried for the boy. I didn't want his first time seeing Santa to be damaging if someone said or did the wrong thing. I wished I could visit ahead of time and prep Santa and his helpers for what might come out of my charming little boys mouth.
We went to the mall on a crowded Saturday and the boy was enamored with all of the decorations and music. He loved the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. He didn't even mind waiting in the long line to see Santa. I held my breath as he sat on Santa's lap and was asked what he wanted. A giant grin spread across his face and he practically shouted "Trucks......in MUD!!"" People chuckled and I breathed easier. My sweet and silly guy was completely unpredictable. He skated across gender lines as he pleased and didn't seem phased. He didn't play with girl toys or boy toys. He just played with toys. And at that moment the deepest desire of his heart was to play with trucks.....in mud.