Picking Sides

  We’re big fans of avoiding gender stereotypes in our household. 

G does ballet and loves Elsa, pink and the girl pups from Paw Patrol, but she also grew up playing with train tracks, dumper trucks and football.

She started playing football when she was 3, at a local class called Diddikicks. She loved it so much she kept going until she turned 6 and she could join the after school football club. C has now started at Diddikicks too and is just about getting the hang of things, and enjoying it as much as her big sister did.

Other than her Diddikicks kit, G’s first football kit was a yellow and blue Sweden kit – an awesome gift from her Scandinavian cousins.

When she grew out of this and needed a new one for school we gave her a choice of country kits – Scottish like her Dad, Welsh like her Mum or English for where she was born. She chose Welsh, and I had a smug face for days, maybe even weeks.

But disaster struck, and the Wales kit went missing. I suspect foul play, but regardless, G needed a kit to wear to football club, so I stiffened my upper lip and we duly trotted off to our local sports shop to pick something up in time for her next class.

Not being a huge football fanatic myself, it had kind of passed me by that at some point G might have to choose her football allegiances. And I naively hoped we could simply skirt the issue – after all she’s still a 6 year old girl who struggles to decide what her favourite TV show or breakfast cereal is on a daily basis.

But there we were, confronted with a simple, yet baffling choice – Manchester United, Manchester City or Liverpool.

G studied the aisle carefully. She picked up one, then another, then started checking for her size, blissfully unaware of the importance of the decision she was making and how it would quite possibly stick with her for the rest of her life. And I did want this to be her decision, not mine.

“I want the red one, Mummy!” she started by saying, and so I explained to her that one of the red ones was Liverpool, and the other Manchester United, and did she have a preference?

She hesitated, hovering between the shirts, and looked up at me as if expecting me to know the answer.

“Well” I started, “I know Liverpool have a women’s team, but I have a feeling Manchester United don’t, do you want me to check?”.  Suddenly reminded of something we had said previously, G piped up “which is the one we could go and see?”

“We could see any of them” I replied, “but I think we talked about maybe going to see the Manchester City women’s team.”

“That’s the one I want,” she responded, quickly finding her size on the rack and exclaiming “oh look! It even comes with socks!”

So, Manchester City it is! Unless she changes her mind of course…

Fast forward a couple of days. Picking her up in the evening after her football class, I asked her if her friends at school had liked her new kit.

“No,” she replied, “except J, as he likes City. The others all said ‘City in the bin, United win’. I told them ‘United in the bin, City win’ but they said that was made up.”

My heart sank. We’d made such an effort to ensure she hadn’t been put off things like football as a result of being a girl – had all that effort been spoilt by something so simple as picking a shirt?

“You’ll never guess what happened when I saw Mr T and Mrs E,” she continued, “they said ‘ewwww, go away!’ because they don’t like City.”

I could feel my blood rising.

Then she laughed. “It was so funny” she said, “that I couldn’t stop laughing all the way back to the hall!”

As she turned and carried on playing with her toys, still giggling away, I thought to myself “we must be doing alright at this parenting lark.”

Party girl

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Last weekend was G’s 5th birthday party. In fact the whole weekend was spent celebrating this event, with our now traditional trip to Chester Zoo on Saturday, and her superhero-football themed birthday party on Sunday. The theme, of course, being what you end up with when you have a fickle nearly five year old who can’t decide what type of party she wants.

It was also a weekend for fancy dress, with G’s gift from us for our trip to the zoo a homemade (because you can’t seem to buy them anywhere) Go Diego Go outfit. Slightly obscure, perhaps, but G liked it, and rounded off the day by collecting her own Baby Jaguar (Diego’s sidekick) from the shop.

For the party, we already had a superhero outfit for G, and partnered her cape, mask and cuffs with a suitably pretty party dress for the occasion. C, however, had clearly grown out of her last superhero outfit, and needed something new.

I’d left it too late to make something for her myself, and quite frankly had worn myself out baking and decorating what I must say was a rather epic looking birthday cake. But thankfully M&S came to the rescue, and tucked away in the boys section (because only boys like to wear superhero stuff, obviously…), I found a rather cool superhero Tshirt complete with attached cape and velcro strips on the front so that you could choose your own superhero word for the front from the included letters – zap, pow or, if you’re a nearly five year old who hasn’t learnt to spell yet, zpo. Teamed with a tutu skirt to up the girly factor she was set to go.

And she came very close to ‘going’ as well – for the last couple of weeks she’s been trying very hard indeed to crawl, and coming very close. She’s not quite figured out what to do with her legs though, so luckily for me I can still put her down and be sure she’ll still be around about there when I turn around.

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C thoroughly enjoyed the party, being cooed and fussed over by some of G’s friends throughout. However she didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as her big sister, whose football coaches from Diddikicks truly delivered by arriving not only with a host of superhero games for the occasion, but also rocking some rather ace superhero outfits themselves!

My own half hearted attempt at a superhero outfit for myself (a cut up Tshirt dress using the neckband to tie it around the neck) was testament to my less than perfect organisation skills for the day, which saw us blowing up balloons in the hallway, hastily making up packed lunches as the children arrived, and stacking cakes at the back of the hall as overexcited 4 year olds ran around our legs. But no matter, they all seemed to enjoy themselves and G left one very happy, and very lucky girl, laden down by rather a lot of lovely and very generous presents!

Party done, the only thing that remained was to sit back with a glass of wine. And boy did I need it.

Play centre next year?