The YouTube Solution

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Anyone who has both girls and boys knows that there really is no such thing as "boy-toys" and "girl-toys" until someone defines them as such.  Sure Jude prefers actions figures to Barbies he'll still pick up a Ken (or Barbie) and use it to re-enact action figures.  Karenna, in turn plays with Jude's action figures, though not as much as a younger brother would want an older sister to play with him.

Then there's dress-up.  What child can resist pretend play with dress up?  What child can resist the sparkles and colors?  What child who has just recently perfected dressing herself or himself could resist using these skills?  We have far more dress-up for girls than for boys for two reasons: Karenna is older (thus collecting it longer) and she has retired costumes from three years of ballet and tap recitals.  This means that Jude is often in Karenna's dress-up costumes.

Up until recently, he's been happy to put on any dress-up in Karenna's collection and parade around the house in it with his sister.  They'd play rock star and bring their toy guitars out as they sang in costume.  However, in the last few weeks Jude's become uncomfortable showing us what he's up to.  We'll go searching for Jude in one of his quiet moments and find him hiding away in dress-up.  As soon as someone spots him, he takes off the dress-up.

"Jude, why are you changing?" I asked him once.

"Boys don't wear dress-up," he answered as if ashamed of himself.

I felt so badly.  Here he was unable to do what he enjoys doing because someone told him to be ashamed, that boys don't do this.  I was angry.  I tried doing what I could to encourage him to continue playing dress-up, that it was okay, but it seemed the damage was done.  The hiding continued. Then came Monty Python.

At dinner one night, Chris and I spontaneously broke into the Spam sketch and song after being reminded of it.  The kids laughed and thought we were insane.  Realizing that the Spam sketch is a Monty Python sketch with very little objectionable content, I played a clip for the kids and light bulb went off above my head. "See that guy?" I said, pointing to Graham Chapman, "He's in dress-up.  He's having fun."

Later, I pulled up YouTube for looking at music videos with the kids.  Jude loves Guitar Hero, and, probably because of Guitar Hero, songs by Queen.  We played some Queen videos.

"Why are they dressed-up in make-up like girls?" the girls asked.

"Well," another light bulb went off above my head, "that's Glam Rock.  They do that because they are rock stars and it's fun to dress up.  See boys like to dress up and have fun."

It worked.  Jude puts his dress-up on comfortably in front of the family again.  Thank you, YouTube.  Thank you, Monty Python.  Thank you, Glam Rock.  (Or as Jude calls it "Gwam Wock"!)

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