I've been doing some research on gender and preschoolers for V, for a paper she's working on. It's bringing back all sorts of fascinating articles and memories, like the now-infamous story of a preschool boy's Daphne costume and the startling picture series of children's gender-colored belongings.
It's also making me think of Patrick, of course. He's mild on the gender-nonconformist spectrum, only wearing a daily ponytail or barrette and wanting the pink bed at Ikea. In my world, that's mild; when I'm reading about Jazz's young transition, Patrick seems downright normal. And life with him is pretty normal.
I forget these things until we go out. Thankfully, he's young and cute enough that people don't make negative comments, and having his sister always with him helps "normalize" what might be his "deviant" behavior. We walked to get ice cream the other night, and three different people commented: one lady told him she liked his hair, one girl said to her boyfriend after we walked past, "oh how cute!," and a guy on the street looked at me and said "nice ponytail," pointing to Patrick. Each time was jarring to me. I forget that people don't see him everyday, don't know that this is one of the most normal parts of life for us. Grab one or two ponytails for Lilly, grab one for Patrick. Do their hair while they eat breakfast.
Even their dad is resigned, now. I'm sure he thinks Patrick will grow out of it, and he very well might. I'm totally okay if he does. (Well, I'll be a little bit sad.) But each time Patrick pulls a certain shirt out of his drawer that is sleeveless and slightly longer than some of his others, he exclaims, "This looks like a dress!" and gleefully puts it on. I want to buy him a dress, but that would cross the line with his parents (gut feeling).
Anyway, there are always a thousand thoughts in my head about gender. And I love that Patrick keeps it in the forefront of my mind, and is so willing to buck tradition even without knowing it.