Somewhere along the line, I screwed up.
I've always made it a huge point to not impress any gender roles on my son. Granted, I stay at home with him, and my husband takes out the trash, but I try to make a big show of it when I mow the lawn (twice, ever, when said husband was recovering from surgery) or when my husband cooks dinner (on the stove, thank you, not just the grill).
I got really annoyed two Christmases ago, when I went online to buy him some "Ni-hao, Kai-lan" toys, and all the descriptions featured references to my "little girl." He loves flowers and watches "My Little Pony." He has a lot of female friends. He knows that I’m the handy one around the house, and my husband isn't allowed to use the hammer. Things are going great, right?
So, we're at Toys R Us working on his Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthday wish list. Yes, in October. Shut up, not the point. We had just left the doll aisle, where we were perusing the Baby Alive selection (see?) when we stumbled upon the dress-up clothes. The boy has a ton of dress-up clothes. They take up about a third of his closet. Pirate, Captain America, park ranger, you name it. There, in the aisle, was the doctor costume we'd purchased for his cousin a few months back. The one he still talks about constantly. "Scan that!" he orders. "I want that!"
I scan the bar code and hear him mumble something that sounded like "nurse." Huh? I ask him to repeat himself. Apparently, he thinks the doctor costume with green scrubs is for doctors, and the one with pink scrubs (fuck you, Imaginarium, for even making that) is for nurses. Where the hell did he get that?
I stay at home with him every day. He does not go to school or day care. He watches TV, yes, but I watch right alongside him to monitor what he's taking away from it and correct anything inappropriate or incorrect (Dino Dan mispronounces, like, half the dinosaurs, FYI). I know my husband didn't teach him that. I'm fairly sure he didn't pick it up during the 3 hours of babysitting he gets per year. Why the hell does he think that?
I start grilling him, and of course he shuts down because he hears my tone and thinks that he's in trouble. I try to ease up. "Honey, do you think that this one is for nurses because it’s pink?" Now, I've never told him that pink is for girls, and he's aware that I actually hate pink myself (except for hair, of course) but come on, I'm sure he's picked up on that by now. It turns out that is correct. "Honey, you do know that a lady can be a doctor, right?" "Um, no?" Oh, shit.
How did this happen? Yes, his primary care is a man, but he actually saw two specialists recently that were women, and his father has brought him along to his own appointments with two different female doctors. I remind him of this, and it turns out, he'd always though they were nurses! I tell him that they are doctors. I point out that Doc McStuffins' mother is a doctor, and his best friend's aunt just became a doctor recently. I tell him that there is no job that is just for men, or just for ladies. He seems really uncomfortable, still thinking he's in trouble, I guess, so I drop it for a while.
On the ride home, I quizzed him. It turns out that he was also unaware that women could be police officers! Son of a bitch! I have always made it a point to call them police officers in front of him, rather than police men. I start listing random occupations, asking him "Can a man be…" and "Can a woman be…" and he just starts saying yes to everything. I even asked "Can a woman be a fireman" and "a mailman" and he said yes. So now I think he's just faking it, and won't cop to any more biases he previously held. I do think he was being genuine when I asked him who takes care of babies, and he answered, "Mommies and daddies." So that's cool, I guess.
But where did he get this impression about doctors? I feel like I should take him on a field trip to a hospital or something. Somewhere along the line, I failed. I wish I knew where.