A Very C.J. Christmas 2013

C.J. can hardly wait for Christmas.  No.  I mean it.  I’m not sure he can wait.  He’s never been particularly patient.  He’s tried to convince me that if he eats two chocolates out of his advent calendar every morning, two days will pass in one and Christmas will come sooner.  He has also tried to convince me to let him open one present every night like his Hanukah-celebrating classmate gets to.

His Christmas wish list has been done for weeks.  He keeps it in various “safe places” – like under his pillow, in his dirty clothes hamper, rolled up and jammed in the shower of his Barbie Dream House and folded up in his jewelry box.  He wouldn’t let me send the hard copy to Santa lest he forget the items on the list; so he instructed me to “email text it to Santa on Instagram.”  Rest assured that I did just that and hashtagged it #americangirldollsareexpensive, #ithoughtwewereluckyenoughtoskiptheamericangirldollphase and #pleasehaveyourelvesmaketheamericangirldollsothatidonthavetobuyit.

photo 1

introChar-holidayYes, at the top of C.J.’s wish list is the American Girl doll named Julie Albright.  She’s a San Franciscan from 1974 with long, silky blonde hair.  Second and third on C.J.’s list, are gymnastic equipment and a bed for Julie.

pTRU1-16293914enh-z6You’ll see on the list that C.J. has also been coveting the Barbie FAO Schwarz Toy Soldier Doll offered exclusively by Toys R Us – which says that the doll is “the perfect gift for any girl!”  I think she’s fabulous and would love to wear her complete look from head to toe.  She may already be wrapped and under our tree, allegedly.

C.J. wants every Monster High doll.  I asked him why he didn’t put them on his list and he said because Santa and everybody in the world already know that he wants them.

He put a Barbie Dream House on his list even though he already has one.  When I asked him about it, he explained that he wants to make New York City in his bedroom and have lots of buildings, skyscrapers and apartments for “his girls” (his girls = every 11 inch doll that he owns).

pTRU1-15923750dtAt the bottom of the list, you’ll notice he wants a WWE wrestling ring set.  That one really surprised me.  When asked about it, I learned that C.J. likes the figurine that it comes with (you should zoom in to take a closer look) and he thinks that ring will go well with his Monster High dolls.

Researching and writing the wish list was a labor intensive task for C.J.’s personal life.  For his academic life, he spent quality time decorating a giant construction paper gingerbread person.  Here it is:

photo 1

It is half girl and half boy.  I’ve been told that the boy parts are the pants, sunglasses and lips.  The girl parts are the peplum (I hate peplums and C.J. loves them.  When it comes to this matter, we’ve learned to agree to disagree), the hair and the jeweled barrette.  The shirt is covered in candy and candy is for everybody and, so, the shirt is for boys and girls.

This Friday is the last day of school before C.J.’s two-week winter break.  There’s going to be a party and book exchange.  Here’s the fine print:


…because books aren’t for everybody, there are “books for boys” and “books for girls.”  When I read the note to C.J. he said, “so, I’m going to get a book that I don’t want?  A boys book?”  For his contribution to the book exchange, he selected Yakov and the Seven Thieves because he thinks that it looks like boys will like it and, more importantly, because it was written by Madonna.  He had me sign the gift tag “To a boy or a girl, Love C.J.”


About raisingmyrainbow

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63 Responses to A Very C.J. Christmas 2013

  1. zombiepug13 says:

    It was awesome of CJ to make his book for a boy or a girl! His school shouldn’t be using stereotypes. i hate it when people assume that only girls will like some books and boys will like others.

  2. Jenni says:

    Just happened to your blog and am enjoying it except for CJs teacher! I’m a school librarian and I spend too much time telling my students there are no such things as boy books or girl books!

  3. Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate
    your content. Please let me know. Cheers

  4. Pingback: Pondering the past… | Because I'm Fabulous

  5. So happy I found you! I saw your appearance on the Today show, and honestly, it had slipped my mind to find and follow your blog until now! Bravo on all of it. Being courageous enough to blog about this, for being awesome enough to care, and for being a rock star mama! Your story strikes a personal chord with me as well- as I have four children; a daughter and three sons, and since about the age of 18 months, one of them has been very gender-flexible. I happily embrace this reality completely. In fact, I think its fantastic! Whichever way things pan out is exactly as they are supposed to. Thanks for sharing your story, I will be back!

  6. Just found your blog and really enjoying reading it 🙂 It’s so sad that adults seem to feel the need to categorise everything as being for boys or girls, even books! C.J.’s response and tag are fantastic though, and I hope they make others think about it too.

  7. Sparrowgrass says:

    I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine award. The details are on my blog.

  8. I’ve only just discovered your blog and am so excited to read more. From what I’ve seen so far, you do an amazing job with your child’s chosen gender expressions, and I thank you for that! I wish there were more parents like you in the world. Looking forward to reading more!

  9. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for your blog, I look to it for inspiration for dealing with the outer world while protecting our 6 year old rainbow. Keep up the great work of support and enlightenment!!

  10. Marcy says:

    Beat ya to the punch Lori. Bought my son one in Nov for his birthday.
    Enjoy CJ!

  11. paul urban says:

    I discovered you on salon.com today. I am a transgender man. I was born female. When my wife and I decided to have a child who is now a 21 year old cis-male, we decided to allow our child to be who they felt most comfortable being. our son played with dolls given to him by his grandma and played with a feather boa we brought home one day. We never worried what others thought and that was 20 years ago.

  12. Pingback: A Very C.J. Christmas 2013 | madalaha's Blog

  13. Amy says:

    Michaels Crafts has American Girl kits, stickers, etc., (and some really cute off-brand outfits to supplement the expensive AG clothes). When we went through the AG craze at our house, the Michaels kits went a long way as presents without breaking the bank. Of course, there was no way around a couple of dolls!

  14. jeff says:

    what are peplums??

  15. jeff says:

    kudos to CJ for the way he handled the book exchange at school. I guess I am not familiar with the Monster High stuff, maybe I will have to look for it online.

  16. Sonia says:

    Okay. This made me laugh a fair bit. American Girls? You mean the only remnants of my super girly phase around the fourth grade? God, I remember loving those for a while. My mother drove herself insane with the costs. Each doll a hundred bucks… plus the 40 dollar outfits. xD Until I started hating them and ditched them for Legos and my backyard. 🙂 (Until I just became practical to a fault and the only remotely “gender-specific” things I payed much attention to were essentially tomboyish but really just neutral.) Oh, and the book thing. That is just stupid. Honestly, tastes have nothing to do with gender. Especially when you’re talking about a good story. Most good ones are gender neutral, you know. What if someone likes pink and princesses but doesn’t have the patience for your average slow-paced girly realistic fiction novel? Or if someone likes swords AND fairies? Honestly, I don’t think it even matters. I was a bookworm for most of my life, and although (excluding fourth grade AG phase) I always preferred “boy” books (aka everything action because they don’t make action for “girls”) no one bothered me because they were just happy I enjoyed reading at all. 😀

  17. Vic Anne says:

    That makes me really sad that the teacher did that for the books – books are for everyone! 😦
    But I’m so proud of C.J. for his tag! 🙂
    Happy Holidays to you and your lot.

  18. Christy says:

    PS- just noticed my spelling error and imperfect grammar, but I know you won’t judge 😉
    Until next time!!! xoxo

  19. Christy says:

    Wishes for a very special Christmas.
    Unfortunately toys are divided into many categories and emphasized being for girls or boys for marketing/sales purposes, but I tell my children all toys are for all children ( and my students, I teach pre-k). When I drive through McDonald’s and they ask me girl or boy, I tell them the exact toy I want, I refuse to say girl or boy toy. My daughter always wants what they consider the ” boy toy ” and my boys vary, sometimes they like the ” boy toy ” and sometimes they like the ” girl toy”. I just wish they did not label there Happy Meal Toys this way, it probably makes some children and parents very sad. On occasion I have mentioned it to the manager, and I plan to write a letter to the company.
    I hope CJ enjoys everything about his Christmas, especially his toys 🙂 🙂 and I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a happy, healthy 2014.

  20. lovingthem says:

    My girls are in the same (but opposite boat). Laurel’s Christmas list is comprised of “Farm toys, tools, and cars.” Ellie’s is “Trains, dinosaurs, and a Buzz Lightyear that talks.” As for the book exchange, that is ridiculous.

  21. Tom says:

    My husband and I love cruising through the American Doll flagship store at The Grove while wearing our head-to-toe leathers. I totally love the furniture and accessories. Always loved doll furniture and proud of it!

  22. Kristi says:

    I love, love, love his gift tag!! So wonderful!!

    So truly, truly sad his school is adding books of all things to gender stereotyping. I love how C.J. handled that!

  23. Elaine says:

    Wow. Books are “gender specific”? I always preferred the Hardy Boys to Nancy Drew (and did that just give my age away?) My best friend in 1st grade was a boy. He would come to my house to play with alll my dolls (I never asked for them, but being the only girl….), I would go to his house to play with his Tonkas. My child would have gotten Tonkas no matter what gender, just so I could play with them, too.
    I loved science, sports and lots of other “boy” things. And except the whole doll/truck bit, I was allowed to have my way. Why allow others to determine what (or who!) you love. We all fall somewhere on the “gender spectrum” – and it is a lovely wide spectrum…all people are people, we just need to remember to be kind.

    • Felicia says:

      You’re not dating yourself as Nancy Drew was published and loved by both boys and girls from 1930-2005 (it’s still enjoyed, they’re just not making new ones!)

      Also I totally agree, sometimes I too loved books that might be considered “boy books” and preferred them, sometimes i preferred the “girl books” . books are for everyone, and what books you like have nothing to do with your gender.

  24. Siobhan says:

    The idea of boy books and girl books is just ridiculous. My daughter is as “girly” as a girl can get, she loves dresses and getting her nails painted (she’s barely 8) but she LOVES dinosaurs so we get her books on dinosaurs to help encourage her to read…of course she loves Fancy Nancy too but my point is boys and girls can like the same types of books; just because their “gender” is classified one way doesnt mean they should only be given books that are (stereo) typical of their male/female “parts.”

  25. Lyss says:

    Haha oh that’s rich. The boys books/girls books thing. I was out at Target earlier this evening, and a family of three (father, looking positively bored, mother directing the show, and young daughter about the age of 9 or 10) were buying books as gifts for presumably a person they didn’t know. They had papers with them that told them only the gift idea, the age, and the gender of the person they were buying for. Whenever the little girl would bring over a a certain book, her mother would dismiss her and remind her they were buying for a “girl.” Didn’t happen to catch what they were buying in the end because I didn’t want to stare, but confound it. Just buy a gender-neutral book and get it over with. It’s this very idea of gender that bothers me. If “girl” is written on paper, they automatically have to limit their selection to something bright pink, feminine, and popular. Gotta get that formula right or lest it’s a bad gift. If I were buying for something like that, I would look for female authors before judging the book by the cover. Girls need to know that other girls can write about dinosaurs and adventure.

  26. Kim says:

    My son’s Christmas list is almost EXACTLY like CJ’s. (except my Alex wants Josephina) He’s going to have a great Christmas. And I’m so sorry about the book thing….so glad my son’s school doesn’t do a gift exchange. (we sponsor a child and get presents for the sponsored child instead) My son really wishes we lived near your family because he wants to have a play date with CJ. They could totally rock those Monster High dolls!!!

  27. Maddux says:

    I’m a 9 year old and I am like CJ. But I do not like that CJs teacher made boys get boy books girls get girl books. I would have liked to get a girl book and also would have signed to a girl even though it was a boy book. I am glad CJ stood up for himself and put ” to a girl or a boy”.


  28. Julie says:

    I don’t know what it is with the gender-specific gift exchange! My son’s 6th grade teacher did that, too. Lori, did you talk to the teacher at all about this?

  29. Ally says:

    I know you’ve got your bumps in the road, like the whole bathroom thing, but when I read CJs response to the whole gift thing, I know that kid is going to be just fine. Actually, he’ll do better than that, he’ll stay fabulous. Your family makes my heart smile. Happy Holidays! 🙂

  30. Lisa says:

    Ugh! How thoughtless! I am shocked that a teacher who has been through all the gender issues with CJ would be insensitive to this. I do a book exchange in my class and the directions state that each book should be grade level appropriate and a book that would be appealing to any second grader. We discuss examples and includes examples in the email to parents. It takes so little to be inclusive of everyone’s feelings. I hope your family has a wonderful holiday season!

  31. I love the part about creating NYC 🙂
    People can be so clueless even though they might have decent intentions. You and your previous boy are teaching many!!

  32. There are no gender specific toys. Any child can play with any toy. People who think differently are purely being influenced by manufacturers and stores. Are you going to let someone else influence your opinions?

  33. wetzelkm says:

    When I was CJ’s age I would have wanted RL Stein’s goosebumps books, or something similarly creepy and typically “for boys”… If someone had given me a princess or Barbie book at that age it would have ended up in our next yard sale… I don’t think that has anything to even do with my being gay… It is just what I liked? That’s so silly to require “boy” and “girl” books, and CJ handled it like a champ

  34. Rachel says:

    My 5 year old son got an American Girl doll for his birthday. And then we got him the bed for Hanukkah. It cost as much as a real crib. Just wait until he wants all the clothes….Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I love your blog.

  35. Wow! Unbelievable…This teacher is well aware of CJ’s “gender nonconformity”, “bathroom” issues etc… here is the PERFECT teaching moment for her and she elects this.. let alone the spirit of giving and the meaning of Christmas/holiday is to make another happy by going out of your way…Let’s hope that she is just “an idiot” rather than being subversively mean. Perhaps you should get her a “Love conquers Hate” T-shirt from HRC as a gift…LOL. My LGBT son after being show a Westboro Baptist church video as an example of “free speech” in his Gov class, has now been assigned to do a project on the Russian Gov. Of all the countries the teacher chose Russia for him! So we promptly ordered the Russian love conquers Hate T-shirt (where all of the $$ goes to help LGBT people directly in Russia) for him to do his presentation in. Aren’t teachers wonderful? Merry Christmas!!

  36. Miranda says:

    My son’s pre-school is having a share and exchange as well. We were asked to bring in a gender neutral age appropriate gift. When we first got the info, that was left out of the description. All I kept thinking about was, what if he gets Transformers, or Ninja Turtles, he’ll be clueless. He’d also be heart broken if he saw the girls getting Barbies, or Hello Kitty. When I found out it was gender neutral, I was relieved, his teachers completely understood my feelings. We are so very lucky.

  37. Nicky says:

    Hi Lori, I don’t know if you’ll actually see this but maybe you can recommend for next year (using this ridiculous exchange as a “teaching moment” – don’t you just love being the world’s educator, 24/7, haha) having every student list what the genre/theme of book is instead of what gender its for. All the students could choose what their favorite genre/theme is for the distribution of the gifts. That way, every child gets to experience the joy of being identified by their interest instead of their body parts. I’m a girl who has always loved dinosaurs, science, space, robots, fantasy worlds. I’d have been PISSED to get a princess or fairy tale book just because someone had to buy a “girl” gift!

  38. Pingback: Day 255: Explain This to Me….. | Writer's Desk

  39. Oh for the love of books!

  40. Carissa says:

    Regarding the fine print: long sigh.

    Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

  41. Christie D says:

    C.J.’s school hasn’t learned much have they? Gender-stereotyping in schools is against the law and this is the perfect example of that. The situation might warrant an email to the teacher suggesting the option of “for a boy or for a girl.” I think she would appreciate the opportunity to learn something new about these types of “activities.” Our middle school had a “boys wear blue and girls wear pink” day and my son and his friends all wore pink; fuchsia pink. They are all gender-conforming (sorry for “outing” them without permission). After the event, the school got called on the activity by the district (after some phone calls by a particular parent, ahem), and that activity and other gender-stereotyping activities will “never happen again” at that school. LOL

  42. Kirsten says:

    I *love* kids’ wish lists, including CJ’s… awesome! But the book exchange note? Seriously?!? What about, “To a kid who loves ____…” Wouldn’t that cover it? CJ’s solution rocks! He’s a natural advocate for humanity.

  43. Jess says:

    Kudos to C.J. for wanting to label his gift for both genders!

    Is there a G.S.A. (Gay Straight Alliance) in his school district? It might be useful to talk to a group like that about making gift exchanges gender neutral througout the school. It’s worth a shot and might help to pave the way for C.J. and other kids like him to have an easier time at school in the future. Other LGBT organizations will usually help with school situations like this as well.

    I came across a similar problem in my college art class in which the final project had to include something that signified whether we were male or female. The professor said this was a requirement and would dock grades if it was not fullfilled. I contacted the local G.S.A. who filed a complaint with the art department for me and the project requirements were changed.

  44. LA says:

    truly maddening. I’m a children’s librarian. the children should bring a book that will be appropriate for all children, whether girls or boys.

  45. Joycelyn says:

    They sell the wrestling figures separately from the ring, just in case you needed to know that! What a gross idea, that books are divided by gender…I’m sorry cj is running up against a teacher that doesn’t get how “little things” mean a lot. Looks like it was handled perfectly by cj. I hope the book received is wonderful.

  46. urbanmythcafe says:

    The gendered book thing really bugs me too. I try not to get to worked up over these things. Yet another generation grows up with biased expectations.

  47. Monica Converse says:

    CJ has the world by the tail! That young child brings so much joy to my heart…now, if all of the world could think more like CJ!!!

  48. I almost cried when you said CJ had you sign it “to a boy or a girl”. I hope hope hope I raise my (eventual) children with as much awareness and consideration as you have.

    Love your blog and reading about your kids.

    Merry Christmas!

  49. Cheryl S. says:

    We had the $5, gender specific secret santa this year too. It’s funny. I wish they woud just ask for a gender nuetral gift. My daugther would much rather get art stuff than dolls. (in fact, she just sold all her barbies).

    Merry Christmas CJ! Too bad he didn’t want Marie Grace as his AG doll. They had her on sale for $50 a few weeks ago! And I’m surprised he doesn’t want Saige, she’s a redhead!

  50. mewilhoit42 says:

    I think that teacher should have been more considerate. I have a teaching degree and know that you can make your gift exchange work however you want. I also will let you know that my sister is in the American Girl phase and we talked her into a different doll. Wal-Mart carries a brand of dolls called mystyle. They are just as big and pretty as the American Girl dolls, but have more everyday outfits. They are also more budget friendly. I hope CJ gets everything on his wishlist, and that you don’t go broke in the process!! Good luck and Merry Christmas!!

    • ravinj says:

      Their outfits fit AG dolls, too, except the shoes, as do ones at craft stores. There at also inexpensive sewing patterns available, or thrift store baby clothes can be cut down to fit.

  51. Jane C. says:

    Thank you for writing this delightful Christmas article. CJ is wise beyond his years. I *love* the way he thinks!

  52. Miranda says:

    You know, I think his teacher could easily have dropped the gender specific gift exchange for the year that she had C.J.in her class, at a baseline minimum. She could have asked the kids to bring books that would be liked by both genders, and kids could have chosen one of the thousands and thousands of books that are really and truly gender neutral. Although there are books that are clearly marketed towards girls (princesses, fairies, etc.) or boys (monster trucks, dirt bikes, etc.), more books are just books, stories about kids and animals and all sorts of things. If it makes C.J. feel any better, you can share that my kids never, ever get something they like in the school exchanges anyway. I always tell them to go with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised if they like what they get. His teacher, if she is willing, might be able to talk to some of the parents as they bring in their gifts and get an idea of what is in the packages and quietly guide C.J. toward a package that is more gender neutral, instead of one that is classically “boy.”

  53. Rachael says:

    Wait? They have to bring gender specific books now? Oi. I’m so annoyed by that I can hardly stand it. Looks like CJ handled it just right! I just admire you and your family so much!

  54. Isabelle says:

    We just had the boy/girl book issue crop up while volunteering at an organization that provides clothes, books, and other items to kids in need. My gender-fluid 7 year old was indignant that both books and art supplies were divided into girl and boy packs. He wanted to know if gender-nonconforming kids could have their social workers ask for the opposite gender items or whether they just got stuck with things they didn’t want. Merry Christmas to CJ and all of you!!

  55. Nancy says:

    As a retired teacher, I’m appalled that this teacher is asking students to bring in gender-specific books. But I love the rest of this post. CJ is wise beyond his years, at times.

  56. Daniela says:

    CJ are right – why I am supposed to like a book only because someone labeled it as “for girls”? I was never exactly a tomboy but not exactly pink either; and I don’t like “love stories”, I love to read science fiction books. Girls Books – Boys Books … it’s hilarious to divine.
    CJ has more wisdom than his teacher and his choice is great!

  57. riselikeair says:

    Happily there are many books out there that are appropriate for both boys and girls. It’s hard to fit in when everyone tries to make you the same as everyone else. I’m glad CJ has someone to help him navigate that challenges. He sounds like he’s got a very good head on his shoulders. I was wondering if there are any older kids at CJ’s school that might genuinely like him and sort of take him under their wing. There have been a few stories of children who are “misunderstood” for lack of a better term right now and when someone who is respected in the school takes the first step at acceptance an attitude shift seems to happen. I wish you and your family the happiest of Christmases and hope that Santa knows just what to bring for CJ and the rest of your family too.

  58. whatyouwant says:

    What if there are an uneven number of boys or girls? Does someone not get a book at all?

  59. Tristen says:

    Every time I see Monster High anything, I think of CJ. 🙂

  60. 'Angela' (John) says:

    Love it! A Happy Christmas, and a bright New Year, to all of you – may it be the best yet.

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