Molly is a cutie. She is five and one of C.J.’s BFFs at school, where they have bonded over their love of Rapunzel and the color purple (the hue, not the novel/film/musical). Molly has thick, brown curly hair and a perma-grin. Her happy eyes are always alive and looking for fun. She is sweet, the first to notice if one of her friends is hurt or sad. She’ll comfort anybody. She reminds me of one of the Precious Moments figurines that my grandmother collected when I was young.
It made me pause when I saw her at C.J.’s birthday party looking troubled. She sat with worried eyes that I didn’t know she owned. Chin in hand, bottom lip protruding. The kids were all sitting at tables waiting for the cupcakes to be served. C.J. was sitting across from her. I moved in a little closer to eavesdrop.
“I’m so sorry about your present, C.J.,” I heard her say to the birthday boy.
“Why?” C.J. asked, only giving her half of his attention.
“I’m just so shy about it,” she continued. By shy, she meant embarrassed. Girlfriend had really been giving this issue some serious thought.
“My Mommy bought your present while I was at school and she doesn’t know that you like girl toys. I thought she knew,” Molly said shaking her head in disappointment.
“Your Mommy thinks I like boy toys? Oh my gosh!” C.J. said, giving Molly his full attention upon realizing that they were discussing the birthday gifts that he had been waiting 364 days to receive and open.
“I told her before about you liking girl stuff but then she bought you a SpongeBob book and a Toy Story puzzle. I’m so shy (embarrassed),” Molly explained, telling C.J. exactly what she got him for his birthday before gift unwrapping even took place. A cupcake appeared in front of each child.
C.J. got sidetracked with eating his cupcake. Thank goodness because who knows what he would have said in reply to being informed that he was getting a SpongeBob SquarePants book and Toy Story puzzle. He isn’t always good at things like manners, considering the feelings of others and being gracious. He’s five. We’re working on it. The chances of him saying, “Oh, that’s okay Molly, it’s the thought that counts” were slim to none. I know my son. He can be a bit narcissistic.
There was a Beyblade in his Christmas stocking. He saw it and said with annoyance “why would Santa give me a Beyblade?” and promptly hurled it across the room at the Christmas tree. While Uncle Uncle tried to hide his elfish laughter behind his mug of spiked eggnog, I crossed the room, retrieved the Beyblade, showed it to C.J. and explained to him that it was a pink Beyblade and that maybe Santa gave it to him so that he could Beyblade battle with his brother and the neighbor kids. Then, and only then, did C.J. consider forgiving Santa.
For the past two and a half, gender nonconforming years, we’ve had problems with gifts and C.J. because:
- C.J. likes toys specifically marketed to girls and sometimes people don’t know that or aren’t comfortable with giving him “girl toys.” And, as he gets older, the formerly safe “gender neutral toys” really piss him off.
- C.J. seems to have an inability to fake happiness and thankfulness when opening a gift that he doesn’t like. He is a spitfire. If he doesn’t like something, he’s gonna make it known. Since Christmas, if he opens a “boy toy” we all duck.
Before his party, one mom asked me what she should buy C.J. for his birthday. I had my response down.
“Anything that you would get for a five-year-old girl,” I replied honestly, owning his gender nonconformity much more than I had in the past when asked about gifts for him. I’ve come a long way in a year. I don’t care about what other people think. I care about my son getting gifts that he likes, if he is lucky enough to be getting gifts.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Yes, and if you aren’t comfortable with that, he loves to do crafts or anything artistic.”
Three days later, at his birthday party, her child gave C.J. a genderless craft kit, which was fine, none of us had to duck. And that book and puzzle that Molly gave him? The Toy Story puzzle at Jessie and the purple Lotso Bear front and center, so all was right in his world.