We recently got an incredibly positive message from one of our Every Bean customers about her frustration finding clothing for her child that didn't have overt sexual overtones including sayings like "hunk", "lady killer", and more printed all over it. This led me to a concept that's been gnawing at me the last few months as my toddler gets older and starts showing more of an interest in other kids.
We just started a daycare. He just turned two. That means both his age and his environment have suddenly catapulted him into "oh! other kids exist!" territory. That comes with random hand holding, occasional hug attempts and, unfortunately, aggressive vying for the best spot in front of the sprinkler at the park.
What I've found is very much in line with a blog I read recently, Let Babies Be Babies (So, Stop Sexualizing Them). When my son reaches for the hand of a young toddler in a dress there are oohs and aahs coming from all directions: He found his first girlfriend! Look at him flirting! He has a crush!
Except here's the thing.... none of that is true. Like all toddlers, ours is interested in other beings all of sudden. He's been taught to hold mum's hand and be nice to other kids. We kiss the kitty at home to show we love him. When our toddler meets another living thing, he tries out these same principles. That might mean a random kiss on another kid's knee after said kid fell down. Yes, we're working on boundaries. But we're also working on being gentle, kind and loving.
What we're not working on? Dating, flirting or attracting lady-toddlers. In fact, we don't even know if this kid we're raising will like girls. Or boys. Or anyone. Because, when you think about it, he's a toddler. And he doesn't care about any of those things; he doesn't know what those things are.
So let's stop with the sexualizing language. Those kids on the playground aren't flirting, they're looking. They aren't holding hands because they have a crush, they're doing it because it's what they do with parents. And they haven't found their first boyfriend or girlfriend, they're just trying out this whole friendship thing. More accurately, they're just trying out the whole "humanity" thing.
We'd love to hear from all of you. How do you all handle your children being talked about as romantic beings? Do you speak up or do you let it slide! Honestly, we don't have the right answer so we'd love to hear yours. Comment below!