Little Boys And Barbies


Little Boys And Barbies

Before I start, I just want to take a second to answer what a few of you might be asking yourselves. It feels inherently important for me to address this, for some reason. Why am I choosing to remain anonymous? Why haven’t I chosen to write under my own name like I do every single month? Maybe I’m embarrassed? Maybe I’m ashamed? Maybe I’m worried that other parents might judge me or other kids might judge my son? Well, the answer to all of those questions is a hard NO. As a single mom who co-parents a great kid with a good man, I am simply showing a little respect here. I’m the one who chooses to write and share her parenting ups and downs with you. But, this one hits a little deeper in a spot that might be a little tender for some parents. My son’s other parent, included. And, out of respect and love for both my son and his dad, I’m going pull the blanket of privacy up a little closer to my chest this month.

My little boy is different. He’s also very much the same.

He can be a rough and tumble. He can throw a mean football. He can talk about YouTubers all day. He loves Vans shoes and skateboards and video games and sports cars. He loves a good fart joke. He has moments where he is “all boy.” And, then there are the other moments. The moments that, recently, he’s become more comfortable sharing with me. He loves whatever his heart gravitates towards and whatever makes that heart happy. He loves rainbows and bright colors. He’ll rock pink hoodie in a heartbeat. He loves watching me put on make-up not because he wants to wear it, but because he’s fascinated. He doesn’t shy away from his love and curiosity of things that are “for girls.” He never has, really. So, a few months ago, when my son had a seemingly very simple request, I wasn’t at all surprised. “Mama, can you paint my nails?” And, so I did. That one question was like opening the flood gates of things he’d always wanted but never felt he could ask. A week later, “Mama, I think I’d really like to have a Barbie.” And, that’s how we got here. With a drawer full of Transformers and Barbies.

The thing I love the most about his Barbie collection are the ones that he chose.

He could have chosen any of them. Ballerina Barbie or Pretty Princess Barbie or Look At My Glittery Eyeshadow Barbie. I would have bought any of them. But, as we stood there in an aisle that felt so very foreign to me as a Boy Mom, what he chose didn’t surprise me one bit. We came home with Braces Barbie, Prosthetic Leg Barbie, and the gorgeous black Barbie with braids and real lady curves (y’all, she’s my favorite). He loves to style their outfits. He loves to fix their hair. He really loves to ask me about the Barbies I had growing up. (Also, did you know that their shoes stay on now?!? What wizardry is this??) We sit on the floor, surrounded by swords and Hot Wheels and Legos, braiding hair and laughing and just being in his safe place.

When his dad came to pick him up for the first time after buying his Barbies, I did something that I’m not exactly proud of. Not proud of all, actually. I hid them. I hadn’t told his dad what we’d bought, so I hid them. It was a selfish move on my part. I didn’t want the argument or the tension or the “why.” Mainly I didn’t want my son’s heart to get broken. But you know what? My son wanted to show his dad. He was proud of their sunglasses and cool clothes and curled hair. And, you know what else? His dad was completely supportive and cool about it. It was no big deal. Everyone smiled. Everyone breathed a little easier. And, life went on. The world didn’t fall apart. We didn’t suddenly explode in a cloud of glitter.

It is as normal to have a collection of Barbies as it is to have a collection of lightsabers.

We have treated our son’s new love of Barbies like a totally normal thing. Because you know what? It is normal. It’s normal to love and cherish and care for a doll. It’s normal to find beauty in braces or a prosthetic leg or curvy hips. It’s normal to learn a new thing like braiding hair and finding pride in that. There are so many “normals” that boys simply don’t get to have because they aren’t “boy things.” Well, not in this house. In this house we paint nails and shoot Nerf guns and build forts and play with Barbies and we figure it out.

Want to know what my son told me one night at bedtime not too long afterwards? “Mama, sometimes I want to ask you things or talk to you about things but I don’t. I feel like I can’t. But now I know that I can and it’s ok. You won’t think any different of me.” Oh, my Mama heart. It broke and mended in the same exact second. You think it’s just a Barbie. But, it’s not. It’s so much more than that. So much more.

My little boy is different. But he’s also very much the same.
And, he’s exactly who he is meant to be.


  1. Unconditional love is profound. Thanks for sharing this. Your kiddo is perfectly who they’re going to be. This idea that we control value of another based off of things as silly as a toy is wild to me. Shame can break the strongest of souls. We just need to love these little souls for as long as we can and encourage them to find joy because we all know how easy it is to let it slip away.

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