Praise Be to Thee, Oh Ye Life-Changing Boxes
How I Did It

My American Boy

A few weeks ago, I took Ezra to Target for some good old-fashioned blowing of all the allowance money. 

His choices basically tell you everything you need to know about the type of child he is:


A sweet ass Bumblebee Transformer and a crib for his precious baby Bloon. 

The Transformer almost didn't happen, however, because Ezra was very torn between it and a set of "market stuff" that he wanted to get for Bubby. It was a $7 accessory set designed for one of Target's doll lines, in case your doll wanted to shop at her local farmer's market: A wide-brimmed hat, a basket, some fruits and vegetables, plus a couple tiny little dollars. 

After much debating, Ezra opted for Bumblebee and decided to save up for Bubby's Market Stuff for next time.

He dutifully performed all his chores and daily tasks without complaint. He was a man on a mission. Market Stuff. Market Stuff! 

(In case you're curious, his chore responsibilities include: making his bed, putting his laundry away, setting and clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, doing his homework, plus help with general toy/clutter and keeping his room clean.)

He also ate two or three apples every single day, hoping that one would knock his loose tooth out so the Tooth Fairy money could speed things up as well.

Jason took him back to Target on Saturday. Alas. There was no Market Stuff. The set was gone, and neither Jason nor I could find it or anything similar online. Ezra was incredibly disappointed, but apparently handled it pretty well. There was nothing else he wanted to buy. He brought his $7 back home and put it back in his piggy bank. 

So yesterday, on a whim, I took him to the American Girl store. I wasn't even sure he'd go in with me; the word GIRL is so prominent everywhere and of course the entire place is coated in various shades of Pepto Bismol pink.

I told him the store might have things for Bloon and Bubby though, and that was enough for him. Bloon IS a girl, after all, and was certainly dressed to fit in, wearing her best pink sparkly party dress and pink flowered sandals. Seems legit, I guess.


I have never seen this child so excited, so happy, so full of joy at every single tiny cute thing he saw. This was the coolest store he'd ever seen. 


After noting that the La Patisserie playset was "messy," he carefully cleaned it up, finding the perfect spot for each little item.


He ping-ponged from display to display, especially once he realized that each doll had her own unique lunch/food accessory option. He announced that Bloon would be starting kindergarten "next week" and would require a lunch box.

He settled on Julie's. It cost a hell of a lot more than $7, but I let that slide. 

His happiness was infectious. Nobody batted an eye at the little boy running around with a loveworn stuffed bear in a party dress. Nobody made him feel unwelcome or strange. Shoppers smiled at him. Staffers high-fived him and bowed politely when he introduced Bloon. 

I followed him around with a big stupid grin on my face, as he demanded to know each doll's name and backstory and mildly lost his shit over the historical dolls. He declared Samantha to be his favorite because she was the Most Beautiful. 

At the register, Bloon played peekaboo with the cashier. She mostly cared about my super-inside-Internet-joke no its becky t-shirt, but when she handed our purchase over said, "You know, thank you for not pushing gender stereotypes on him. He's probably the happiest kid I've seen all day, and it's awesome."


I wrote about American Girl here once, about the catalogs that followed me from address to address, almost taunting me and my prolific boy-children-having. I wrote that American Girl was one of the few things that could make me feel a twinge of sadness that I wouldn't get to share with a daughter (even if the prices and the excess and the omg girlyness were probably all good bullets to dodge).

I wrote about my own original Samantha doll, a long-ago, pre-kids gift from Jason, who remained in her box in our basement. Perhaps I'll give her to a granddaughter, someday, I wrote. 


Obviously, I knew exactly what to do when we got back home.


Before he opened the box, he had to confirm that yes, it really did say American Girl, and I was presenting him with the real deal.


It checked out. He was excited.


"Meet Samantha!" he announced to his brothers.

"Cool," Noah said, looking up from his latest Bionicle set. "Hi Samantha."

(I'd completely forgotten about the mini-Samantha doll I had as well. My sister bought her for me after I spent an entire Christmas seething with jealousy over my niece's new Kirsten doll. I was 22. Yeah.)


We brushed her hair, inspected her wardrobe, put on her hat and ascertained that the mini Meet Samantha book fit perfectly in Bloon's lunch box, which was GREAT, because tomorrow was Library Day, apparently. Then he and Noah played with the Bioncle set until dinner. 

He promised to take very good care of her, and keep her in the box whenever he wasn't playing with her, and I promised myself not to check out eBay prices on original Samanthas because I just don't want to know. 

Of course, when I came downstairs this morning it was obvious that NOBODY -- not even the Most Beautiful Samantha --  is ever going to replace Bloon's #1 spot in Ezra's heart and care...




Why am I crying? Like, hard?

You're a good mama, Amy.


So Sweet! I have a son who also enjoys babies and stuffed animals. He lovingly looks through the American Girl Doll catalog and asks for the boy (that only comes if you buy the twins). I know the company is called American "GIRL" but still, would it be too much to ask for a stand alone boy? My son desperately wants one but has made it clear he wants a boy....


OK, that is absolutely the sweetest thing ever.

Allison Hasel



I LOVE American Girl! I have two boys at home, who typically like "boy things." (GAHWD, I hate even saying that), but somehow still got on their mailing list. I'm hoping this means they don't gender stereotype as much as some other companies?

Yay for Ezra being Ezra. He rocks at being himself.


I heart him so much :)


I heart him so much :)


I heart him so much :)


I heart him so much :)


Great, now you know what he's going to grow up to be, right? Awesome, that's what! An awesome human being. Geez, what a burden. Have you no shame?


Man, you sure know how to make a girl cry.


Oh Amy. I love that boy. And I respect you so much for allowing him this. You are both so lucky.


This literally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a nice day. That


Ahh, pregnant raging hormones have struck again. I made my son a baby carrier this Christmas for his babies and he loves it. I hope if and when he wants to wear one of his babies in public he'll get the same reactions as Ezra. File this under the best mom ever category. :)


No, you're bawling like a little baby at your desk.


I have 2 boys and an original (much loved) Samantha doll that I worried would stay packed away in my attic. You give me hope!










This is the most adorable post and it has absolutely made my day! All of your kids are adorable but that Ezra holds a special place in my heart (not in a creepy way of course!) :)

Suzy Q



This post made me so happy!

My daughter is one of those who plays with toys regardless of gender specifics. She's 10 now and has a wide range of interests. I love it. I have encouraged the attitude of following her interests and passions and not paying so much attention to the "rules". That being said, I also work at my daughter's school. It physically pains me when my boss tells the boys they can't play with the kitchen set, that it is for the girls. The girls are discouraged from playing with the trucks and dinosaurs. And the coloring sheets are divided into bins marked "Boys" and "Girls". The kids I work with are ages 5-12. The older ones don't care as much, but the younger ones' faces tell it all. I do the best I can, because in this case, I can't win.

But cheers to you, your family, specifically Ezra, and to Bloon. This is the way it should be.


Ezra, you are an awesome kid. Not surprising, because (as the AG cashier said) your mom is pretty awesome for letting you be you.

Love this!


I feel so happy after reading your post. It makes me feel like everything in this world is going to be ok. I really wish my little man could have a play date with Ezra because I think they'd SO hit it off.


How sweet! And seeing that original Samantha made me so nostalgic. I also have Samantha (an original!) but she is so dirty and her hair is wrecked from so much aggressive brushing by my 9-year-old self. Maybe I need my own trip to the American Girl store, to see if they can fix her up.


Good lord, woman. You rock my world. And I love that everyone in the store was so sweet to him.

Also, I have that shirt too. And my name is Becky. For real.


I love how you honor all 3 of your kids' interests. You seem to really appreciate all of who they are! They're lucky to have you AND Jason. Tell Ezra one of your readers thinks Bloon looks perfectly ready for Kindergarten and I hope she has a good day!


Longtime reader since the pre-Noah days and this may be my first actual comment. This is one of the most heartwarming pieces I've read, online or elsewhere. Thank you for sharing this sweet story of your amazing boy. It truly brightened my day.


What an amazing kiddo and an amazing mom!!! I'm so glad you found a way to enjoy that with your kids, especially since it's Zah. My husband is one of three sons, and he and I have had two daughters together. They do not love dolls. Don't even like them (but VERY into stuffed animals). My mother-in-law is blatantly heartbroken that the dolls and girly things she saved (from the years when she had tried for a daughter) are not appreciated by my daughters. I have a little guilt, but feel that we should let our kids enjoy whatever they want and not push stereotypes on them... just as you've done with Ezra. You are the best mom!


This might be the greatest blog post in the history of blog posts. I love everything about it. I too have Samantha sitting in a box. You have inspired me to let my kiddos play with her.


I'm DYING from the adorableness of this post.


This is the sweetest thing ever!


I love this so much, it really did bring tears to my eyes. What a sweet boy. And Samantha was totally my favorite too.


Tears over here as well.


<3 !!!!


Oh, you made me cry.

My original Samantha (who I got when I was TWELVE, because, well, that's when I learned about American Girl / also I am old) is currently on a very high shelf above my baby girl's crib. I'm not sure when she'll get to come down and play.


I loved this post and shared in you and all your readers' joy at the sweet, infectious smile on Ezra's face. Our only job is to help them connect with what makes them happy. I am the proud mama of a toddler boy, and expecting my second boy. Hope I can always put smiles like that on my boys' faces.


OH MY LORT. This is the sweetest thing I've read in days!


I love Ezra! The End.


Oh, blu_canary, that story breaks my heart. And it makes me even more grateful for my daughters school where the kids regularly play together with all the stations.

Also, why is the kitchen for girls? Boys need to eat, too. And, as a career choice its actually a male dominated field.


I love this; I too had a boy that played with dolls. His father (my now-ex-husband) told me I was going to make our son gay (it was the 70's, not that that's an excuse). What it made him, now at 35 with two kids of his own, is the best dad I've ever known. By about 3rd grade he did stop actually playing with them, although he would play Barbie with his sister upon request. He sensed that it made his dad uncomfortable, but although he didn't play with them he wouldn't let me get rid of them. I still have his two favorite "babies", Missy and Oscar. Go Ezra, and his mom.

Sue W.

Heart. Stopped.

Love that kid and I don't even know him. You and Jason are raising some woman (or man) an awesome husband.


Absolutely beautiful Amy.

Doing a happy dance for your beautiful little boy who is allowed to just be who he truly is.

You are an inspiration as a mom :)


Okay, so please PLEASE know this is a compliment. My husband and I are 90% sure we're not having kids. A big part of the decision is that I don't know that I have it in me to be the kind of mom you are; the kind of mom I would want to be. I had a mom who loved me in her way, but she wasn't supportive and openly preferred my brother. You are my role model.

You are amazing.


Man, I love that kid.


Oh man, can I be a Mom like you as my daughter grows up? Seriously, I aspire to parent like you do - working with your child and doing what is best (and occasionally hilarious) for your family.


Ezra might love these toys too.


This is the best thing I've read all day.


I have a boy who loves all things pink and his beloved American Doll, Kya.


Man, who started chopping onions in here?


I'm feeling a bit of kinship with you right now - I had to take my son shopping for a new pair of sneakers today. Now, he (at 2 years old, mind you)nloves shoe shopping more than most women. Anyway, because we had to try on EVERY shoe in his size, regardless of gender, we inevitably ended up with him running around the shoe department at Target in a pair of bright pink Doc McStuffins sneakers. Another mom approached me asking if I usually let him wear girls' shoes. It turns out that her son sometimes likes "girly" things too, but she doesn't know how to handle it, so she usually just tries to deter him. The conversation ended with her complimenting me for being a good mom to allow my son to be who he is. Still makes me tear up to think about (granted, it could be the pregnancy hormones too). For the record, he ended up with a pair of black & red high tops that were in clearance for $7 and his father dislikes more than if he had chosen the pink shoes (because he hates any dark color clothing), but my son smoothed it over by telling him that they are his "fancy shoes".


Love, love, love!

Rachel N.

So very sweet.


Buckets of tears here. I always thought Samantha was the most beautiful too. I'm sure she and Bloon will be great friends.


I was once at a gathering at a friend's house, and her boss had brought his wife and kids with him. His middle child happened to catch sight of my friend's red heels near the front door and just put them on, clomping his way over to his dad. Immediately the dad shouts at him to take them off, saying "what the hell are you doing? you're a boy! you shouldn't be doing that!".

The look on the kid's face, i will never forget. He was so devastated and ashamed, I wanted to tell his dad to shove the shoes up his uptight, narrow ass, but i'm not one to tell a parent what to do with his own kids so I kept quiet.

when the little boy walked back to us, i just leaned down and told him quietly that i thought they looked great and he was very cute in them. he just gave me a small shy smile and ran off back to his siblings. i always wonder if he is going to go his whole life struggling to express himself without fear of being labelled or judged for just having an interest in something "unconventional".

i love that Ezra has you for his mum, and if i ever have kids i will do my utmost best to have the same attitude and values to raising my children as you do =)


My daughter and I are way into AG. There are many people out there who will give AG dolls a makeover and turn them into boy dolls for anyone interested in that... I really wish AG would come out with a boy doll; my daughter's BFF is a boy, and I know she would love a boy friend for her girls.

And Amy, FWIW, original Samantha doesn't yield much more than $100 on ebay. So, no worries. :)


So very sweet!


Most Beautiful Ezra

dawny dee

that is one amazing child. such magic in him. huge kudos to you and jason for your kind perceptive parenting.


Wonderful, just wonderful. My younger son was similarly unconcerned about gender stereotyping. He now does most of the cooking for himself and his wife, which she really appreciates. You're doing a great job, mom.

Average Jane

Aaagh! Everything about this post makes me so happy!


I love everything about this<3


You have the best mama instincts. Thanks for sharing this! You are my favorite thing on the internet and I spend a lot of time on there...


I have a 9yo son who asked for (and got) Bitty Twins for Christmas. He wants to campaign AG to have them change to "American Kid" and says boys like to play with dolls too. He has his own AG wishlist, thinks they should make boy clothing for his AG dolls (I buy used on eBay and rewig), and is going to absolutely love reading this post - and the comments - when he gets home.

And before anyone asks - he is definitely all boy. He is just as happy smashing cars and flinging dirt as he is brushing his doll's hair.


OMG, he is the sweetest child ever! And kudos to you and Jason for not enforcing gender stereotypes. Team Ezra 4EVA!


This post made me tear up. Oh my. So happy. I have a mint condition Felicity tucked away for some future daughter that I will likely never have. (I have 2 amazing boys, and I'm probably done...). Just seeing Ezra enjoy Samantha makes me so happy (and a little hopeful that my youngest might someday appreciate Felicity?!).


I definitely cried when you gave him the Samantha box.


Oh my god. All I can do not to sob at my desk at work. GO EZRA. And way to be a total rockstar mom Amy.


Ezra is THE BEST! And you're pretty awesome yourself. I love that shirt. And Taylor Swift (I saw a picture of her wearing it and laughed so hard!).


it's official....amalah wins the internet for being the most awesome mom! and ezra for being such an awesome kiddo!

Cheryl S.

I love this. LOVE LOVE. Erza sounds like an amazing kid!

If you look on the interwebz you can find people who turn American Girls into American Boys (cut of the wig, change of the clothes) if you think Samantha might want a brother some day.

And, BTW, my daughter has one AG doll. She could care less about it. I have 4. I may be a bit obsessed with them. I'm 43.


And now I'm crying. Thank you for sharing this and I hope that it inspires more parents to act the same way.


I can't believe how much this is making me cry. Maybe because I have a 2.5yo boy who wants to be JUST like his 5yo sister and wears her hand me down clothes, does ballet class at her studio (he's the only boy), and wants me to do pigtails in his hair whenever I do them for her. I love that there is another mom out there who just loves seeing her little boy happy and to hell with gender stereotypes.


I'm currently TTC, and any time I get nervous about any hypothetical future parenting challenge, you're here as a fantastic example. I have a much loved Samantha and Josephine tucked away, and I'll be pulling them out when I have kids, regardless of whether I get girls or boys. <3 keep the wisdom coming!


I <3 Bloon posts.


Thanks for that post, it brightened my day. My nephew Abe is a big 7 year-old who can make perfect machine gun noises and stages epic battles with his cousins, but he also carries his baby doll "Jewels" around in a sling and requested that Santa bring her REAL baby clothes for Christmas. Too bad Ezra and Abe can't hang out.


I'm pretty sure I'm in love with Ezra.


This is one of the Top Five Happiest Things I've encountered thus far this year. You've literally *brightened this world* by creating these three unique and brilliant children. Thank you.


Oh, Zah and his his Bloon. The tears started at Julie's lunchbox and just kept going. He is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing your boys with us!


This is the best thing I have every read on all of the internets. That is all.


I just love this. That is all. Thanks for sharing!


Love this post, filled with such love and happiness and love how you are raising those boys. Bloon is so ready for kindergarten!


Obviously by reading the above posts I am not the only one crying over this. Awesome job.


This is one of your best posts in awhile, Amalah! They're all good but this one is special. I've always had a soft spot for Ezra and this just touched my heart. I'm so happy that you allow your boys to be who they are and don't worry about gender identity. To put those kinds of labels and expectations on a CHILD who isn't aware of sexuality or gender roles is unfair and ridiculous. Kids like what they like. I played with G.I Joes, Transformers AND Barbies, and was obsessed with American Girl stuff. I turned out okay. I think.

I got in trouble for taking my 4 year old nephew to the American Girl in NYC by my brother and it broke my heart that this little boy is made to feel like there's something wrong with him if he's interested in dolls ALONG WITH his army of Star Wars toys and Ninja Turtles.

You're a great mom Amalah
Your boys are very lucky to have you.


I love this post. My 5 year old son LOVES barbie and mermaids...

...and fighter jets and playing with worms.

Sounds like he has a bit in common with Ezra.


I felt stupid for crying at this post, until I read the other comments. I shouldn't have felt stupid. I just needed to tell you how grateful I am (we ALL are, actually, as you can see) that you are willing to share your boys and experiences with us. The internet may seem weirdly anonymous sometimes but please just know that on the other side of this computer screen, you have touched another mom's heart in a very real way.


I'm a long time reader but I have never commented before. This post seriously brightened my day. What a good mommy you are!

laura belanger

Thank you so much for this! After reading it I promptly went and got my own Samantha doll w steamer trunk and all of her perfectly preserved accessories and gave them to my 6 year old, Levi. He had been asking about her at Christmas when I unearthed her from my mothers attic, but I told him I was planning on selling her and offered to buy him another less expensive doll. But the truth was, had I had a daughter ask I would have immediately passed her down. Your post helped me see the ridiculousness of what I was doing! Levi has been. In heaven all week playing with her!!

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