Today, I was blown away by how blown away a group of kids between the ages of four and eight were when I told them boys can do ballet, too.
One of the readings today was about letting go of anxiety, "don't worry about anything, pray about everything." I always try to apply these readings to their lives, so I asked the group what they worry about. One of the older boys was joking around and said that he's worried about having to go to ballet class. The room ruptured with laughter, and a four-year old girl said, "He's a boy. He can't go to ballet class." When I told her that boys can indeed go to ballet class, and some boys are great ballet dancers, the whole group of girls between the ages of four and six exploded with awe. It was like I had opened the door to Narnia for them.
I forgot that at this age, especially the younger ones, they're world is so simple and probably as far as they can reach. They're still putting basic pieces together, kind of like those puzzles for pre-school kids with big pieces so they can hold it with their tiny hands, and so that they don't eat any pieces and accidentally choke on them.
The same way kids don't see hate until we teach them to hate, they don't see stereotypical gender roles until we teach it to them. I read recently that Megan Fox received some backlash from trolls who found it abominable that she would let her son go out dressed as one of the princesses from Disney's, Frozen. The only thing I find abominable here is that reaction. It's playground bullying brought to the internet by adults. Not only are the trolls saying that boys and girls are confined to doing, dressing, and behaving certain ways just because of their gender, but more atrocious are their mean comments. These trolls show our kids that if someone doesn't conform to what we believe, then they are wrong and deserve to be ostracized. Maybe the kids in my class would be more accepting of boys doing ballet, if we didn't teach them it was wrong or uncool.
How we learn to see the world as kids shapes how we see the world as adults, and trust me, it's a lot easier learning something new to open up your mind, than it is to unlearn something harmful or unhealthy for you. If we raise them to respect others and to see and treat each other as equals, then perhaps less people will feel like outcasts.
BIG LOVE & HUGS