I Sense a Theme Developing

Putting His Money Where My Mouth Is

I took Noah to a toy store this week — he'd accumulated a pretty decent amount of birthday cash and gift cards from generous friends and family, and was naturally determined to blow it all on hats LEGOs. 

We were at that store for a long, long time, as Noah carefully considered his options and worked out the price tag math. (There was also a sale going on, which mostly revealed my incompetence at explaining math concepts like "buy one get one 40% off" to a second grader.) He decided to buy a Legends of Chima set — yet another giant 4,000-piece ship-type thing that will take him two days to build and 40 seconds to fall apart and morph into something else — and a small set of LEGO Friends.

For those of you not living with wall-to-wall LEGO carpeting, "LEGO Friends" is the newish line designed to bring girls back to the brand. The minifigures are all girls, and shaped more like tween-y Polly Pockets than the boxy traditional LEGO people. And instead of shit like NINJA SWAMP BATTLE COPTERS the sets are more like EMMA'S CUPCAKE BAKERY & PUPPY HOSPITAL. 

But you know, they are very cute. My childhood girl self would have been all over that shit, with all the tiny little windows and cupboards and accesssssssssories. Our next-door neighbor has quite a few of the sets and she and Noah regularly play with them together, in between their dramatic imaginary "I'm the Mom, Ezra's the dad, Ike's the baby and Noah is the ALIEN FROM MARS HERE TO RUIN OUR DINNER" scenarios.

Noah chose a karate studio, clearly stoked over the possibilities for many epic LEGO Friends/Ninjago crossovers. I noticed another boy skulking around the LEGO aisle staring at him a little strangely, and I pointedly ignored him, because my kids don't give no craps 'bout no gender stereotyping. Sure, they love tons of traditional "boy" things, but we also have toy kitchens and baby dolls and baby strollers and dollhouses — some in blue, some in pink, some in purple/yellow/green. They dig My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop and playing house.

To Noah, LEGOs are LEGOs. And they're universally awesome, even if they come in a purple box with butterflies on it.

At home, Noah assembled the karate studio in record time. When he got to the final page of the instruction book, he noticed that the usual "OMFG LEGOS!!11!eleven!" boy model had been replaced with a girl.

Photo (49)

"I guess LEGO Friends are for girls," he said matter-of-factly. "I don't care. I love them anyway."

I puffed up smugly. That's my boy!


The next morning we walked to the bus stop. The bus situation has been...not super great lately, socially speaking. I'm (finally, yes) drawing subjective lines in the sand more and more these days between what I consider "Noah's story to tell" and stuff that's more about my experience raising him, so let me just give you the Cliffs' Notes version that for Noah, like many kids with similar diagnoses, making/keeping/relating to friends is a big challenge. And it's a challenge we're all feeling more acutely this year.

For my part in it, I struggle with constantly flipping back and forth between "OMG NOAH STAHP WHAT ARE U DOING" and "OMG OTHER ASSHOLE CHILDREN I WILL FIGHT THEM." I want to protect and defend Noah with the fury of a thousand mama bears...but I also realize that yes, he really does need to work on reading those pesky social cues, on compromising and being flexible. 

As we walked, Noah excitedly said he couldn't wait to tell the other kids about the toys he bought.

And my smug-ass little non-gender-stereotyping heart sank like a rock

"Um, Noah..." I began, and then realized there was no non-asshole way to finish that sentence. 

Noah ran up to another second grader — a boy he's had an on-again, off-again, drama-plagued friendship with since kindergarten — and immediately started telling him about the toys he bought with his own money. Two LEGO sets. TWO! One was a LEGO Friends...

The boy's mouth dropped, and then a look of slightly evil amusement crossed over his face. He immediately turned to his older brother and the other "big kids."

"LEGO Friends! He bought LEGO Friends for himself!" 

Y'all. Y'ALL. Mayday. MAYDAY.

I stepped forward and opened my mouth, even though I had no real plan of what I could or should say. 

The boy continued. "You should buy LEGO City! It's way better! LEGO Friends is for..."

Noah interrupted with a sigh, like he couldn't believe he needed to explain something so obvious. "I already have LEGO City. But I didn't have any LEGO Friends. So I got a KUNG FU LEGO FRIENDS."

And poof, like that, the topic of conversation moved on, as the other boys expressed their own enthusiasm for kung fu, and then Noah mentioned the other set was Legends of Chima and the whole damn bus stop exploded in a giant nerd-off about the warring tribes of Chima and who was the best and most powerfulest. 

The bus arrived and everybody lined up. Noah waved at me. 

"Bye, buddy!" I said. "You're awesome, by the way."

"Yeah, I know," he said right before he boarded the bus, and disappeared from my view. 



My girls love Lego Friends but I agree with Noah. They my be intended for girls but what boy doesn't also want an ice cream shop? Why do boys only get police stations and no snacks? Go Noah.


Noah is awesome! Having a son with PDD-NOS, I get the social stuff. It shows up more acutely as they grow (son is now in the later years of elementary school). Sometimes we can step in and offer suggestions, sometimes they have to figure it out. Kinda stinks sometimes. But Noah is fabulous!


Yes he is. He's awesome and he has an awesome Mom and Dad. (And two awesome brothers, who will be more awesome because they have him to look up to.) Can I say awesome one more time?


Awesome...just plain ole Noah awesome!

Jacquie | @After_Words

Noah is awesome. And so are you.

When my son was 5, one of his favorite games to play--a game he'd made up entirely in his head--was My Little Pony. There was a version he played on the playground and at the pool and in the basement. But it was summer, see, and there weren't too many other kids around. Progressive parents that we are, my husband and I didn't bat an eye at this until my son started talking about how excited he was to play his My Little Pony game with his new friends at his new school.

And finally we decided to give him a head's up that some people--silly people, small-minded people, wrong people--thought that My Little Pony was just for girls. And those people are wrong. My Little Pony is for everybody!

But the damage was done. He stopped playing. This was 3 years ago, and I still feel like an asshole.

P.S. We have the karate studio too,and it rocks.


OMG. OHH MYYYY GAWWWDD. My heart just exploded into a million bitty pieces. Noah rocks like no other child I've come across in a long time. Awesome is just not a strong enough word!


I don't care for most sponsored stuff, but I would really, really, like it if Lego would call you up and offer you a ton of money to blog about LEGOS!!!! And you could be all, DONE!


One of my proudest moments was overhearing my son tell another boy that there are no such things as "boy" toys and "girl" toys, that there are only toys. I waited to see how the other boy would respond, and he simply nodded and went on playing. We need to give our kiddos more credit that if we don't shove our rigid societal norms down their throats, they'll accept differing points of view just fine. Good job, Noah!! (And momma!)


My boys play with the neighbor girls. My 6 year old is best buddies with the 10 year old girl. They play with her lego's and his lego's combined. I don't have the heart to tell him nor will I. Granted my almost 10 year old has made a few passing comments and I quickly give him the stink eye and he typically shuts up.

Regarding this whole social clues thing. How long until my almost 10 year old understands what's socially acceptable and what's not. Cuz he's ADD/ODD/slightly Bipolar and pretty much a negative social clue getter.

Cait B.

You go Noah!



That sound you heard was my hear a'sploding all over my desk.

Go, Noah!!


I bought my daughter the "girl" Lego box before Lego Friends came out. My son completely took them over. He was so excited to have some new colors (pink and purple).


I wish the lines between "boy" and "girl" toys weren't drawn so starkly these days. When I was a kid my brother and I would play with our Fisher-Price house together because it WAS NOT ENTIRELY PINK AND PURPLE BUT NEUTRAL HOUSE-Y COLORS INSTEAD. Gahh why do they not make stuff like that anymore?


Like like like Like like like like! This made me tear up... So so good for you and him both!


That. Is. Awesome. We bought a Lego friends boating set for my almost 4yo daughter so she could play with Legos when my 7yo son was. He routinely steals the good pieces. I was inspired enough to go eff this and buy a gender neutral, theme free bucket of bricks and whels that they both like. My son's heart is still broken from Disney marketing Teen Beach Movie paraphenalia to girls. He shouldn't have to feel ashamed of loving that happy crappy sunny singalong flick and soundtrack.


This made me tear up. I'm so glad to read things like this. You have an awesome boy there x


This is so heart warming and makes me smile. Way to go Noah and way to go Amy!

When it comes to Legos though, why is it that the girls can play with any Legos and it's all cool but when a boy plays with Lego Friends it's like, AHMAHGOD GIRL LEGOS.


I love this!

My son (just turned 5 on the 3rd)also doesn't care about gender stereotypes. He loves Power Rangers and Ninjago and he also loves My Little Pony and Sophia the First.

I do my best to follow his lead.


I generally find that the littlies don't have much of a problem - it's the old folks you have to deal with. I heard an old lady tell her companion today "oh, I'd never get you that cake - it's for ladies!" When you're assigning gender to cake, you're seriously missing out.


Yay Noah! And yay to you too! This makes me so happy. My daughter is really struggling right now and frequently makes statements like "I think I should be a boy" because she likes "boy" things and doesn't know many (any) girls who like the same things she does (dinosaurs, dragons, rocks ...). The gender thing bites. I want to take a moment to encourage you moms of boys not to discourage friendships with girls, thinking they're all "girly". My daughter could use a nice boy or 2 to hang out with. Yay Noah!!!


Excellentness, right there.


This made my heart smile.


Ugh. This is so harrrrddddd. Our 7 year-old is having social/bulling issues this year. My Aunt brought him back a Mickey shirt with a more grown scene on it so I thought it would be ok. Apparently, no. Mickey is for "babies" and so it began. A 4th grader in after-care wrote on his back and a couple of 1st graders (don't even get me started) teased him from underneath the bathroom stall. I didn't even know what to say when he told me. I did go to the YMCA and kick some college-counselor ass.


awesome indeed!


This is just the best thing ever.


I have no idea how the extra J got added to that comment. Stupid phone.






My son, Oliver, loves all types of Legos. He has bought with his own money LEGO Friends sets, LEGO city sets, LEGO Chima sets and LEGO Superhero sets. If they made LEGO Great Philosophers of the 18th Century sets, he would buy those too. If nothing else, Noah has a kindred spirit in Seattle to play LEGOs with.


I've an eight year old too and let's just say that the whole 'protect her from assholes but let her make her own mistakes but not let the other kids make fun of her but don't crush her spirit' thing is something we all deal with... I love that she still wants to play dress ups and little kid stuff and I just want to wring the neck of some of her ' friends ' who tell her she is acting wrong.

So I'm with you on this one, Amy.

Joe's Mama

Sounds like my just turned Eight Sunday son with Asperger's. He likes my little pony because it was on his TF2 mod and some kid made a smart ass remark about them being for girls. He was like whatevs, I'm a brony a bro who likes ponies. LOL. Rock on Noah.

Becca Lynn

Oh, that kid... *You* and that kid. Kill me every time.

Leigh Ann

The only way I could love this story more is if Noah was my own kid. My girls cross over frequently into boyland, but I know it's different the other way around, socially. I wish it wasn't.


Awww, I needed this story today.

When my brother was really little, he was often invited over to a classmate's house...who just happened to be a girl. Finally, her mom asked her, "Why do you invite Ned over so often?" Her response? "He'll play My Little Pony with me!" As the incredibly bossy older sister, I may have been slightly responsible for that, but our mom always encouraged us to play with each other's toys. I truly believe we are better for it.

p.s. Ned is now thirty, towers over six feet tall, and as manly as he can be.

Caz Stone

Love your post title. Love when they do that - pick it up, the important bit, and take it forward, awesomely.


He's beyond awesome :)


What a fabulous story. And a fabulous kid. And a fabulous mom.


Aww, my heart just swelled for Noah too! Love it.


I'm not going to lie... I teared up at the end. I have an almost 8 year old second grade girl and an almost 6 year old kindergarten boy. The boy is VERY boy but he also loves all of the things his sister loves because he loves HER. He plays house, dollhouse, My Little Pony, if fine if Fancy Nancy is the bedtime story his baby sister chooses, etc... but I do cringe a little when I think about the fact that he's going to have to find out by some asshole kid that some of the things he loves are "for girls."

That made me think. My eldest used to love things like cars and trucks, and magically, about the time she started school, they were forgotten and she's still into princesses and My Little Pony's. She was in to all that before, but she has left the "boyish" toys in the sparkly fairy dust.


man oh man, i rarely comment - and i'm sorry for that. but you're such a great mom. you are so obviously doing an amazing job raising great kids. just needed to share that feeling.


PARENTING WIN!!!! You're raising some fantastic boys.


Now you made me cry! like a baby. bhaaaa. he is awesome!


Thank you, Amalah. Please never stop writing -- it helps so much of us to read stories like this.

It seems so unfair that girls are encouraged be anything they want to nowadays -- tomboys, athletes, princess, prom queen, physicists -- but boys are taunted for being anything other than "boy." I'm all for female empowerment, of course, but it drives me nuts that that the uber-confident rocket-scientist-soccer-star-divas are the first to turn up their noses at my son and say things like, "You are a boy. YOU can't dance ballet!!" Gah.


Um, "helps so *many* of us..."



I think my heart is explode from the greatness of this story. WAY TO GO, NOAH.
1) Obviously, MLP is AWESOME. I teach a class at the university and yelled at one of my students when I realized he had a Rainbow Dash shirt on. I wanted it.
2) I was soooo worried at the "mayday" part of the story.
3) But the eye-roll and "duh" that Noah laid on them? Fantastic.


That one goes in the WIN column for sure! Good on you Noah- and Mom.


I love that boy of yours. Just sayin'.
One of my nephews told me at one time that his favorite color was pink, even though other boys told him only girls were supposed to like pink. When he got Nike slip ons with pink swooshes, he was very proud of them.


I love me some Noah stories with awesome endings.

A Mighty Girl recently distributed a petition to stop Toys R Us form having Girls and Boys sections in their stores,as they've done in Sweden and the UK. Wouldn't that be something? My girls are heavily into superheroes, and I've written to Disney twice now asking for some Black Widow Avenger stuff for the girls. In the meantime, my 3yo shops in the boys department.


I was leery of the Lego Friends line when it came out -- as the whole thing seems to be overly gendered -- but I've been pleasantly surprised by how many people I know are buying them for their sons. There are definitely a few sets I have my eye on for my four-year-old.


I love how you write...noah's triumph brings love to my heart, but the way you communicate it's beautiful. thank you


Simply awesome!


Noah = awesome! Simple, really. :)


My son who is also seven loves Lego Friends. He also loves Lego Chima whatever, and the waggletail beaver's bakery. Also star Wars. And his inherited doll house. None of his friends have ever said anything about his toys. And oh, his walls are covered in puppy pictures.

Jill UK

My son is 6, and has a shrine in his room which contains pink My Little Ponys (the cheap Tesco version), some rocks, some shells and various sundry weirdness. It has its own lamp and you "must not place anything in the shrine area". He took one of the pink ponies to school and waggled it in a friend's face. Boy-shaped friend said, 'that's a girls toy'. Son said, in the most derisive voice ever, 'no it's not, it's a UNICORN!'. My son also enjoys dressing up as a princess or a ballerina and killing every character in LegoPiratesOfTheCaribbean PS3(it's all one word don't you know) and playing rugby. I like having a child who thinks for himself but I have to kick myself everytime I feel the need to curtail his expressiveness to accommodate others.


You rock. Noah rocks.


This gives me hope. On good days, my little boy has a grand old time with his hat collection and making his My Little Pony collection play together in his dollhouse with the SPACEMAN! version of himself that is a Playmobil toy. On bad days, I've been given side-eye because his absolute favorite toy at the toy store is a pink, princess-themed Mega Bloks playset.

He's hardly a stereotypical "boy," but at the same time, he shows interest in those things because he sees other kids enjoy cars and trains. And he genuinely enjoys both of those, as his vast Thomas collection shows.

I only worry once he's graduated from Pre-K; I have no idea what we're in for in terms of an IEP and he's a friendly little guy. I don't want him to get labeled, and get teased for that on top of his inability to see that playthings have labels. For example, his favorite color is pink because I am a "gwirl" and that's what gwirls like, and that is an important fact to him as I am Mama and one of his favorite people in the whole world. I don't want to him to rethink the color pink into something that only girls like and girls have cooties, ew. I want him to stay open and happy.

So when you write about Noah and his trials and his own lack of "whatever" about the same things I worry about, it makes me feel less alone, as well as more proud that *I* got to be my son's mother, as it's made me see the world in ways that parents might not otherwise get to experience. Thank you.

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