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Dear Boys: Go Ahead. Play Across the Gender Lines.

Some men might find this something close to offensive. I am married to a man who does not worry about four of his six sons playing with Barbies and My Little Pony. We just smiled at the picture of the four of them collaboratively imagining without fighting (miracle of all miracles) and left them to play with the neighbor girls.
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The other day I walked outside to call my boys in for dinner, and this is what I found.

Some men might find this something close to offensive. I am married to a man who does not worry about four of his six sons playing with Barbies and My Little Pony. We just smiled at the picture of the four of them collaboratively imagining without fighting (miracle of all miracles) and left them to play with the neighbor girls.

This gender issue can get a little messy.

Everywhere you go--stores, schools, libraries, museum gift shops--you don't have to look far to find gender separation. Girls are pink and purple and frilly and sparkly. Boys are blue and black and matte and dignified. Girls have superstars and bows. Boys have superheroes and cowboy hats.

The implied messages here are "Boys wear this. Girls wear that. Boys play with this. Girls play with that."

I get a little tired of all this.

We had a birthday yesterday, and my 6-year-old got some superhero LEGOs. The first thing he said, after all his friends left, was "Will you put this together with me, Mama?"

"Mama doesn't like superhero LEGOs," my 4-year-old said.

"Yes, she does," my 6-year-old said.

"No. She likes princess ones," my 4-year-old said.

So I sat down with both of them and put together Spider-Man's fight scene with Dr. Octopus like a BOSS. My boys will know that playing across the gender lines society says we must have is completely acceptable and highly encouraged.

Who says the world has to be so black and white?

This essay originally appeared on Crash Test Parents. Find Rachel on Facebook and Twitter.