Now that you’ve gotten the full story of where I’ve been, I’m really excited to tell you about where we’re going. I say “we”, because this isn’t just me. It is my giant community of parents and caring adults who elevate the conversation every day among their groups of friends and family. You all help me to get people thinking. As you know, once you see this, you can’t unsee it.
And so it goes with me. I see it now, all of it. Pigtail Pals is no longer going to be “Pigtail Pals”. It can’t be. It has to be more.
I had my daughter first, then my son. I have spent all my life as a girl, so it was easy for me to see and become passionate about girls’ issues. I had read several books about issues with boys, but it didn’t click with me like things did with girls. Until last summer. My son Benny was three years old, and we were at the park having a big playdate celebrating his successful potty training. Not long after we had arrived, a boy who was not with our group came up to my small son, put a plastic toy gun to his head, directly to his temple, and said “Boom! I just blew your f*cking brains out.” The other boy was six.
Benny didn’t understand what had happened, but his big sister did. I stood there in shock while Amelia marched up and read this kid the riot act. I went up to the boy and demanded his gun from him. He had four more stuffed in his shorts and socks. I told him to get the hell away from my kids. I was really disturbed by that incident. A friend I was with asked the boy’s mom to leave with her son, and then my friends and I sat and talked about raising boys. I was pretty quiet during that conversation. I just remember thinking, “Is this how it is? With boys?” Later that week I was out buying Benny some more big boy underwear (we call them “spanky pants”) and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t have a steroid-ridden super hero on it, skulls, guitars, or footballs. My kid was three. Where were the kites and ice cream cones? Or zoo animals. Hippo spanky pants would be pretty cool.
You all know Benny pretty well from the stories I share on the blog and facebook. He is a sweet boy. He loves his mama, reading, art, cooking, Angry Birds, and wrestling with our dog. Mud seems to have a magnetic pull on him, and he loves working on building projects and using tools. He loves the color pink and having his toes painted. He doesn’t really understand sports yet, but he plays a mean game of tag.
I started paying more attention to what was being marketed to him and what I was buying for him. I realized unless it came from Pigtail Pals, all of his clothes were shades of blue, gray, or green. When he turned four years old, his party guests brought him paints, an Angry Birds tee, a dinosaur water sprayer, and a sprinkler. I was relieved there were no toy weapons. The other boys his age that he is friends with are all equally sweet. Then I think about the boys in Amelia’s kinder class. A lot of them have lost the sweetness. Several of them have been in trouble for violence at school. One has stuck his hand up a little girl’s skirt. Several of them have sworn in class, including dropping the F-bomb. These boys are all six years old. Six years old, and acting like miniature ill-behaved men. Where was boyhood?
Benny is sleeping next to me on the couch right as this moment. His tiny chest moving up and down under his mint green shirt. The other day we were shopping for his grandma’s Mother’s Day gift, and he was very intent on finding her “dee mose breautifrul ting” in the shop. I always want him searching for and finding beauty. And love.
I get asked about boys a lot, and tried to make a shift by developing the Curious Crickets line. I made sure the Full of Awesome designs had a design that would also work for boys. But let’s be honest – that really isn’t enough. I really don’t have a lot of references for parents of boys asking for a group like what Pigtail Pals is for boys. My go-to answer is always Achilles Effect. I started to feel like I was so focused on Amelia and girlhood, I had ignored, maybe willfully ignored, Benny and his boyhood. I just kept thinking, I have time, he’s just a baby. The kid is now four, time is up. I realized I had to get over some of my own stereotypes about men and being a male. Not having ever been one, it took me being the mother to a boy for a couple of years to get it.
I got it.
Pigtail Pals is now going to be known as “Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies: Childhood Inspired”. I can’t only fight for one side of childhood. Aren’t I the one who always says, “there is no girl side or boy side to childhood, there is just childhood?” Yes, I am. And I was starting to feel like a hypocrite. Because everything I’ve been talking about with girls ALSO impacts boys. Sexualization. Body Image. Gender Stereotypes. Color Washing. Violence.
So everything is changing.
Actually, that’s being a bit overly dramatic, but it feels like a big change to me. Absolutely nothing is going to change with the work we do for girls. All of that is still going to happen. We’re just going to expand our focus to boys. Everything we’ve done for girls, we’ll now do for boys. The look of the store is going to change, the header on the blog will change. ALL of the designs in the shop will remain. We’ll add boys to the conversation on facebook. Mr. Pigtail Pals is going to start blogging for us, and I want to add the voices of more dads/men.
Pigtail Pals will always have our roots in the girl empowerment community. Truly, that is who I am, a champion of girls. But I am also the mother to a son. I need to act like it. Now I will fight for both of my children.
It is the right time to change. Here’s the new look, and I hope you stay with me as we continue on this journey towards a healthier childhood for our children. Our children have a right to chidhood. They’ll be teens soon enough, there’s no need to rush them there. Today they are our little boys and girls.
Tomorrow I’m going to release a new line of designs that show boys and girls playing together. When’s the last time you saw that on a t-shirt?
But for today, I’d like to introduce Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies.