Ev in his puddlesuit in the garden sniffing a yellow daffodil

Boys will be boys? Or will children just be children?

“Boys will be boys”. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve heard this phrase. But what does it really mean, anyway? It’s often used to reinforce the traditional stereotype that boys love dirt and play fighting and noise. But our little Ev isn’t like that, not really.

Yes, he loves running around in the garden, but he also chooses to stop and look at flowers. He’ll notice their colours, their scents, how soft each petal is. He’ll bend down and peer at a snail shell inquisitively, then remember where it is and make sure that he doesn’t stomp on it as he dashes about. He’ll feed our rabbit, Oreo, gently pushing blades of grass into his hutch. He’s not a rough, loud, little boy. But that doesn’t make him any less of a boy.

He’ll charge around soft play, until his cheeks are glowing from exertion. But he’ll also sit for hours looking at books. Staring at the pictures intently trying to understand the story. He loves construction and vehicles and building blocks. He loves puzzles and cuddly toys and glitter.

He expresses his emotions freely and loves openly. He’ll throw his arms around my neck and murmer “I love your face” before nuzzling into me. At snack time, he’ll sit next to me on the sofa, then crawl onto my lap and cuddle in. He can be boisterous and energetic and wild. But he’s also gentle and caring and kind.

He’s conscious of the emotions of others. He’ll search my face after a tantrum, and whisper “are you happy Mummy?” When Harmie is upset, he’ll sidle over to her with a toy and gently stroke her hair. Sometimes her tears will make him cry.

For his Birthday, he’s asked me to make him a cake with a crane, diggers and edible mud. But for his present he’d like a toy coffee shop with a till and pink doughnuts with sprinkles.

He loves what he loves. Whether it’s intended for boys or for girls. And why not? Maybe boys will be boys and girls will be girls. Or, maybe children will just be children. Free to enjoy whatever makes their eyes light up.

One day he might begin to better match the stereotype for his gender. But whether he does or not is immaterial to me. I’m proud of our little Ev. I don’t want him to be boxed in; confined to trying to conform to an image that doesn’t quite fit. Because who says what boys should be anyway? Ev will be Ev and that’s the way I’d like it to stay.

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