As I drag out our green bin filled with Halloween decorations and costumes from previous years, the kids descend upon me.They've been asking for weeks to decorate but I am insistent that we will not start until October 1st. During our evening walks, we pass many houses decked out and the kids are bitterly disappointed at my stringent stance against early celebration. But the first is here, and the kids are overjoyed as they pull out our rather pitiful supply of orange lights and skull candles. Every year, I think "I'll buy stuff on clearance so we'll have more." Or better yet "This year we'll CRAFT decorations." None of these things ever happen but the beasties are thrilled with what little the bin offers.
As we peel apart the window clings, Camille gives a shout of joy as she pulls out Umberto's ninja costume from last year. She immediately puts it on and begins to run around the house, leaping on the couch and back to the floor. We had assumed she would be a werewolf or a wolf and I had already done some research to find her a mask that wouldn't drive her crazy. But it's clear now as she strikes a pose that what she now longs to be is a Ninja. I admit that I am a little reluctant to encourage her wondering what the reaction will be at various places but I push that aside. It's early yet and the kids are apt to change their minds a few times. We'll cross the gender bridge if we get there.
Two weeks later, we're allowing the kids to pursue the Walmart Halloween aisle. Rowena is terrorizing us with a giant scythe that is at least two feet taller than she is. Umberto has a fake orange Tommy gun. And Camille has just run to us with a plastic katana. "This is perfect for my ninja costume." she tells us. And I know that the moment has come. I don't think that many parents realize that this gender costume stuff comes up for those of us with girls. The big show is always the ultra cool liberal parents who allow their boys to dress up as girl characters or princesses. But you know the parents of girls have these moments of gender bending as well. And I hesitate not because I am not ultra cool and liberal (hell yeah I am) but because I am a caring parent who worries what her sensitive child will do if someone comments. And I'm guessing that at some point someone will because we live in Georgia. We will be attending costume parties at some conservative places. People are going to wonder why she's not a princess or a fairy. And they might let their horror that she's in a boy costume show. But I also know that sometimes you have to let you child take that hit. Not unprepared for sure but you have to let them decided "Hell yeah girls can be ninjas." So we buy her the sword.
We spend the next couple of weeks watching people's eyebrows walk off their faces when they ask Camille what she's going to be for Halloween and she says proudly "A Ninja!" H thinks people are shocked because it's cultural offensive. I point out that in a place where people still think it's okay to say "Orientals" that it's likely that she's a girl and that she's not going to be a princess. I don't know what's going to happen when she shows up at Girl Scout's or to the Catholic Center's "Fall Festival" but I suspect that Camille will have no problem setting the record straight "Girls can be ninjas."