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How One Little Girl Doesn’t Let the Toy Store Tell Her What to Love

9 Jul 2014 – 12:00 AM EDT

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Before Kate was born, I decorated her room in all the pink and pastel glory that many moms carrying girls dream about. Her walls were lavender, not purple to be clear, but a lavender so beautiful it was fit for a princess. Her crib bedding was cotton candy pink from the toy store and her onesies lay out on her vanity all decorated with tiny flowers and bows. She would be a living doll or at least that is what I fully expected.

Then Kate arrived and for a while we played dress up with our baby girl because that is what you are supposed to do. I posed her in tutus and took too many pictures. I dressed her as a strawberry for Halloween. I filled her room with dolls and pretty things from the toy store. For her first birthday she wore a gold dress so beautiful and delicate it could make you weep. It still hangs in her closet because I haven’t the heart to give it away.

Slowly but surely, Kate’s little personality began to shine through. As she grew it was clear that she was just as interested in the little toy cars she could get her hands on as she was the dolls I carried around in her diaper bag. She was an equal opportunity lover of all toys and we were having a hard time figuring our little girl out. I watched as she didn’t take to my insistence to play dress up or tea party. I watched and noticed that she preferred to wrestle and play rough.

I didn’t mourn the loss of the little princess I was trying to curate but rather was fascinated with this little blonde spitfire who allowed nothing and no one to decide what made her happy.

Kate would eventually be diagnosed with autism and this would explain so many of our questions regarding her language skills and her trouble socializing but I didn’t realize it would also explain her complete immunity to the gender stereotypes that have taken a hold of so many of us.

Miss Kate’s autism has given her the ability to purely love all people and things without bias or an agenda. She does not entertain the idea that there would be a girl aisle and a boy aisle in the toy store. She does not fall victim to advertising that tells her she should look a certain way or love a certain thing. She is so refreshingly free from all of these things and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

So, as I lay down with my little girl tonight in her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bedding to read her stories from her Superman storybook, I smile as she listens intently to the words I read while clutching a baby doll in her arms. Her walls are still lavender but they are littered with dinosaur decals and ninja turtle prints, now. Her transformers are nestled in for the night in the barbie car and she is happy. So happy. And we are happy. This is one little girl that doesn’t let the world tell her how to be.