My boy is wearing all pink and pigtails every day.
I think he wants to be like his sister for a variety of reasons. She makes friends easily and he wants to join in. She’s very charismatic. He is trying to be more like her to fit in. He only wants to wear pink and he wants to wear pigtails like her. He says he likes her clothes better than his clothes, and calls himself a girl.
He has no boy friends. In school I’m not sure he plays with other kids. I think if he’s not playing with his sister then he is by himself. He tries to be a part of her groups.
We went on a playdate with boy girl twins. The other girl wanted Banana to play with her and then she goes, YOU CAN’T PLAY, YOU’RE A BOY, to my sweet sensitive boy who does not like being excluded. He cried. (The boy of this boy/girl twin set has some social anxiety and often disappears while we are there, so this is doubly hard for Apple because he can’t even go to play with the other kid, and he really wants to be one of the girls because Banana is one of the girls).
Banana says, You can’t say that, that’s mean! And Apple is once again rescued by his sister.
I honestly feel bad for both of them. I feel bad that Apple always has to tag along and is often being excluded and waiting for Banana to pull him into the group. Sometimes she doesn’t, sometimes she teams up with the other kid and is mean to him. I guess it depends on her mood.
But I feel bad for her too. It’s not fair she always has to do the rescuing. It’s not fair she always has to look out for him. Sure, it’s not nice sometimes she is mean to him, but she is almost-4. She’s not a saint, she is a child. It breaks my heart when she does it and I don’t stand for it, but you know there’s only so much I can do.
We decided to separate them this year. We thought it would be perfect. They had a meeting with all the twin families going into the 4s (there are SIX twin families in the 4s!!). We discussed it with a social worker. They said this is a great time because it’s a familiar setting, it’s only a few hours a day, they would still be together on the playground and in any after care programs. So really it would only be 2-3 non-consecutive hours apart. They could branch out and meet other kids and learn to grow and thrive as individuals.
Then we got the class list. Four weeks before school starts we see who is in what classes.
Banana is in a class with every child they know in the entire school. Somehow all their friends ended up in one class with Banana. Not only their school friends but their synagogue friends all ended up in this class.
Apple is in a class of strangers. NOT ONLY are they all strangers, none of them go to our synagogue. NOT ONLY do none of them go to our synagogue, THEY ARE ALL GIRLS.
They put him in a class with 9 girls and 3 boys (him included). And one of the other boys is the boy from that boy / girl twin set who has some social anxiety and Apple finds him hard to play with. The other boy is new to the school.
Banana’s class is 7 boys and 6 girls. And everyone they know. And all the kids they will encounter outside of the classroom, too.
They’ve set Banana up for success. all the kids she knows everywhere we go.
They’ve set Apple up for disaster. All strangers. And also Banana will know all the kids at shul and he won’t. He will be excluded from her even off hours. When we go to someone’s house for a meal, she already is more comfortable going off to play than he is, imagine if she was in the same class as that kid?
And the one kid he does know in the class is someone I already know he doesn’t really get along well with, and we have tried. They just don’t mesh. But the teachers thought they did because they’re both quiet boys. Just because they’re quiet doesn’t mean they like each other. It just means that you don’t really know them personally because they are harder to know than the kids who shout and jump around and get your attention.
On top of ALL of that, they gave Banana the experienced teacher and Apple the new teacher.
I mean I was fucking livid.
I had a conversation with the director and Apple is being moved into Banana’s class. We are not separating them under these conditions. Not only is it a set up for disaster for this year, but it potentially can cause Apple to have a negative feeling about school that can last and last. If he hates school because he’s alone and left out and the teachers don’t understand and ignore him, that feeling is going to persist. I can’t have that happening.
I’m sad that we aren’t separating them. I think this would have been a good year to do it. I think they are settling into these patterns where he is trying to join in with her and she is always speaking up for him and rescuing him.
We are planning to try to get a meeting with their teachers to talk about how important it is not to let Banana speak for Apple. How important it is to try to encourage him to make his own friends and use his own voice. Try sitting them apart. Make it a routine, maybe, that they don’t sit together for snack or lunch or something. Try talking directly to Apple. Try paying attention when he comes over to you for something because he is the kind of kid who will try that once, and if you ignore him, he won’t try again. He would rather figure something out for himself or go without than keep being rejected.
I don’t have a problem with him wanting to be in pink and pigtails. I have bought him all the pink boys clothes I can find. Pink t-shirts of various shades, and pink shorts, and pink baseball caps, and pink shoes. He’s got it all.
When we’re out, everyone thinks he’s a girl. I’m starting to get a lot of comments. It bothers me more than I feel like it should and my progressive non-gender-stereotyping self is like WHO CARES … but I don’t want people to think he’s a girl. But everyone who doesn’t know him calls him by female pronouns. And I feel like correcting them, but usually I don’t. It’s too complicated. It’s easier to let them think I have 3 girls than to explain why my boy is wearing pigtails, someone once assumed it was Banana who forced him to dress up, not knowing that he has a tantrum when I don’t let him put his hair up like her.
I wanted them to be apart because I wanted them to grow and thrive as individuals. He is very much a part of her and vice versa. But one more year, we will see how this year goes. And maybe in kindergarten they will be separate, we will do one big transition – new school, new kids, and separate classes. Seems like too much but maybe this is the way we have to do it.