Gender grievance and language lament…

Jacob and I haven’t really been up to much the last few days – gone out shopping a bit, visited a friend, etc. I’ve had some writing work to do and can’t wait to share my articles (as I’m playing love guru). Aside from that, two things have been resonating in my mind lately that I’d love to discuss.

When I was out shopping yesterday, I bought a few children’s books yesterday for some of my friends’ baby showers (as I love giving books as presents). They seemed like pretty neutral books when I bought them, but one of them has a page that says “Messy lipstick, messy floor” and shows the little bear playing with mummy bear’s makeup, shoes and jewellery. And I was thinking, hmm… perhaps I should give that one to my friend that’s having a baby girl. And then another book has a page which says “Feel the flowers on my dress. I try hard not to make a mess! Just like mummy!” – and I thought, no, definitely I should give THIS one to the friend with a baby girl.

And then I just thought to myself, what am I doing? Why am I so concerned? Perhaps my worry was that I would insult my friend by giving them a book that may influence their son to act in a girly fashion. In retrospect, if someone gave me those books, I’d still be more than happy to read them to Jacob (and let him read them when he’s older). And I don’t expect it to cause him to want to wear makeup or a dress. 

I think that too often, we’re so focused on giving girls girly things and giving boys boyish things that it more or less defines their roles even before they’re given a chance to decide for themselves. For example, is it so bad for a boy to wear pink? A friend of mine actually bought a pink t-shirt for Jacob as a joke (she didn’t know the gender back then) and I found it really adorable – of course, it did say “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” on the front.

ImageMy belief is that “Girls can wear boys clothes, but boys can’t wear girls clothes” – but I think that pink shirt suits him fine. Since we didn’t choose to announce the gender of our baby, we also have quite a few neutral things – even with clothes alone, we have green, red, yellow, orange, etc. which is just really nice to have! 

Another example is kids toys as well. Some people are under the impression that boys should play with cars and girls should play with dolls. My mum brought over quite a few of my toys from when I was a child, and I must say that Jacob prefers the soft toys over cars and blocks (though he’s only 5 months old so I don’t blame him – fuzzy things are cool!). Around Christmastime, I had some kids coming along to my Christmas party so I thought I’d pick up a few toys – one of the things I bought was a shopping basket, which my niece loved. And it got me thinking – boys should be exposed to grocery shopping anyway!

So, I guess what I really mean here is that I don’t want to be assigning roles to my little man, or at least I’m going to give him a choice. That being said, I do dress him up pretty boyishly but I think that’s because I like that look myself – if I have a girl next, I’d be more than happy for her to wear all Jacob’s clothes as she’ll look cool!

This topic was brought up quite a bit around Christmastime (which initially sparked my interest) and here’s one article that mirrors my sentiments:

And obviously, before I move on to the next thing I’ve been pondering about, a picture of Jacob asleep like a baby. I think those are girl pants he’s wearing, but it looks nice so who cares… 🙂

ImageAnother thing that’s been playing out on my mind is what language to teach Jacob. Yes, of course I’ll teach him English, but I mean what second language. So, here are some options:
Malay: I grew up learning Malay so I do know it pretty well, but I don’t really think I want to teach Jacob this language. I can teach him random words and how to string sentences together, but I’d rather he learned a more universal language.
Mandarin: Good language to know and probably good to learn the characters from young. But I don’t know too much Mandarin myself so I can’t teach him. I could learn it but I guess it’s not my top priority either.
Japanese: I LOVE this language. I only studied it for a year (and lost most of it because I didn’t speak it) but I’d be keen to pick it up again and have it like our special language. 
German: This is Dan’s preference, and he did a bit of it at school so he knows some children’s songs, etc. My issue is that I don’t think I can teach Jacob it at all, because I am terrible at European languages. I can’t even pronounce simple greetings! I think I’ve just got an Asiatic tongue…

What do you think? Frankly I’d like to do both Japanese and German, though I don’t think it’s a very politically correct combination. XD

I know this whole language thing screams “Asian mum”, but really – being bilingual from a really young age is really good. Kids pick up languages really quickly in the first 5 years of their lives, so I might as well make the most of it. It’s up to him whether he wants to go further with the language, but it couldn’t hurt to activate certain parts of his brain…

Here’s another really good article about brain benefits of being bilingual:

For now, I’m just enjoying singing Kira Kira Boshi with Jacob (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Japanese). It goes like this:

きらきらひか (kira kira hikaru)
お空の星 (osora no hoshiyo)
まばたきして (mabataki shitewa)
みんなを見てる (minna o miteru)
きらきらひか (kira kira hikaru)
お空の星 (osora no hoshiyo)

Anyway, I’d better go because Jacob’s trying to eat my Council Rates bill. He’s much more inquisitive and grabs anything and everything to put in his mouth. He’s been doing lots of push ups now, oh no… 🙂