Okay, Is This Wrong?
Yesterday, a student brought in cupcakes to celebrate his birthday, as is our routine*. However, he opted to bring in Spider-Man cupcakes for the boys and Hello, Kitty cupcakes for the girls, distributing them as such. Should I permit this?
A bit of context… this particular class tends to divide more neatly along traditional gender lines than most. No one objected to the cupcake they received. If they had, there were enough extra that I could have swapped out with no problem (which I have had to do in the past with girls who objected to pink frosting or boys who just had to have the decorative flowers on theirs).
Going forward, I’m thinking of enacting a policy prohibiting gendered offerings for birthday celebrations. If parents just must do so, I’ll insist that they bring enough of each to guarantee everyone gets a cupcake of their liking (which will in effect require them to buy twice as many goodies). Enforcement will be an issue… if Mr. and Mrs. Smith show up with 8 pink and 7 blue cupcakes and no way of acquiring more, I’ll simply have to distribute them randomly and let the chips fall where they may; someone may still end up with an undesirable cupcake (or, as undesirable as a cupcake can be) but it would be because of chance, not because of what they have between their legs
But, I’m not 100% sure this is right. The primary reason the cupcakes were as they were yesterday was because the child wanted them that way, based largely on his experiences with his sister (she always chose a Hello, Kitty cupcake and he always a Spider-Man one, so it seemed logical to extrapolate). It wouldn’t be particularly festive to turn a birthday celebration into a lesson on gender, equity, and the like. I’m still tempted to say that shouldn’t trump forcing kids into boxes they are not comfortable with, so I’m probably 95% of the way there. But not 100%.
Also, who’s Spider-Man?
* I realize there is room to discuss the appropriateness of celebrating birthdays with cakes. I’ll say it is not the only thing that we do but otherwise ask that we table that conversation for another space and time. Else we lure out the sugar whackos…