People who write for children often presume that children are contemporary creatures and that anything retro they recoil from, I think that couldn’t be further from the truth – in fact, in my experience the children I have known and I have known a lot, especially as I used to work with children, they don’t really develop a sense of time and past until around the age of ten or eleven.
Children do have very prominent likes and dislikes that are very unique and different with each child, it is usually around the age of ten that they allow their peers and other influences dictate what they start to like and dislike, in other words, I believe around the age of ten they become more aware of other people and factors in life, they start to broaden their minds and often lose themselves in trying to be accepted by others.
My son has very narrow ideas about what he likes and dislikes and for the majority of people, they find him strange, but to me, I find him quite normal for a child. My experiences with children show me that children generally are retrospective and like things from historical resources. Some children gain the awareness of others earlier, some later, some keep true to themselves throughout their lives, but they are rare creatures.
Therefore some children become shy when you try to get to know what they really like, because adults and older peers think that it is either outdated or rather unusual, so they feel insecure in being honest with you about it.
For me, I remind Henry almost on a daily basis that everyone is individual and unique and therefore have different ideas about everything, that the only person you should ever please in your life in regards to what you enjoy, should be yourself!
Here is a little idea of what Henry loves and is motivated by, it might surprise you; Dolly Parton, Doris Day, Lady Gaga, Riverdance, steam engines, robots, wrestling of the 80s and 90s, British comedy of the 50s to the 90s, royal history of Europe, math and physics, cooking, baking, pink and fluffy things, tortoises and sea turtles (is an obsession, he cries whenever he sees them on TV), litter picking and sustainability, robot wars, cyberpunk art and lifestyle and current affairs.
Henry also likes long hair with bangs for men or feather layer cuts. He is also angry at the world for not accepting boys who wear pink and bright yellow, he is often shouting about why the fashion industry insists that boys must always wear black or blue or camouflage and denim, and he wants cotton suits and button up shirts and tailored clothing for everyday wear.
He also wants to know why boys can’t wear perfume and use moisturiser and make up etc (I told him they can, but he raises his arms above his head, shrugs and says, but society says no)!
Henry was very upset once and had a meltdown when he won a prize at the school fete and was given a choice of two prizes, one was a rainbow unicorn soft toy or a cream rabbit, he chose the unicorn but the lady said, but you are a boy and the girl after you would want this and he got the rabbit – I agree with him that was totally unfair and against freedom of choice.
Henry has a very hard time understanding why there are defined ideas about boys and girls and from what I understand he is not the only one at his school! He best friends are a group of four lesbian and tomboy girls, they are very open about it even at the age of twelve and thirteen.
At least half of the above are things he wouldn’t ever share with his peers for obvious reasons – he has given permission to talk about it here because he feels it could raise world awareness.
I had similar problems as a child, with the things that I liked – for example, they were mostly for boys and not little girls like me or were completely age inappropriate!
I loved dinosaurs, vampires, 1930s to 1950s fashion, monsters and bats and insects, comedy horror, Barbie, Lego, wrestling, gardening, writing, arm wrestling, marbles, woodlands and shelter building, helping dad with cement mixing and carpentry, roleplaying, super heroes like Batman and Superman, hard rock and metal music, glam rock, classical music, opera and medieval history, particularly ancient warfare and torture/dungeon procedures.
I was considered an anomaly and my mother though she was a tomboy herself always tried to make me dress tomboyish but maintain feminine charm. I never liked being forced to wear trousers because it was convenient for my mother to maintain my modesty that way! If I had the choice my clothing would have been flowing skirts and dresses and I would literally look like a little gypsy running around as that was me, I was a nature’s child!
My mum wasn’t used to that as all my siblings were techno-heads who shut themselves away in their rooms and were obsessed with the latest gadgets and all I wanted to do was gardening, fort building and digging holes with the dogs, whilst scrumping from my neighbours overhanging our fence apple tree!
Yes the majority of the things I loved were boyish, but I wanted to be feminine nonetheless.
My niece is another example of how society shouldn’t try to define gender roles – my niece had an obsession with soccer and wanted to be a soccer player as her career, but society talked her out of it and told her to be a good catholic girl and calm down.
I just think that humanity has advanced so much in their diversity and acceptance of various things, but they are still supressing their children and it really shouldn’t be that way anymore!
So what if your son loves pink and rainbows and fluffy bunnies? At least he isn’t interested in killing anyone and has a good sense of pride, justice and respect!
So what if your daughter loves soccer and dreams of being world champion at boxing whilst still maintaining the notion that, yeah, I want kids too! Women aren’t as docile as you make out anyway! Stop trying to pretend!
My son has mental health issues, he doesn’t want to exist anymore, because he feels the world will always have a problem with who he chooses to be, no matter what he does!
This post exists because I wanted to share with writers for children, that you shouldn’t think that kids are contemporary or actually want to conform with society ideas about what normal is. You should write for the kids you know, not what you think the general kid population might be like today!
A majority of the kids I personally know do cling to their devices, because it is the only thing that gives them attention, many of these kids explain that they feel refreshed when they find an adult who engages with them and their hobbies away from technology, but they are hard to find… please think about that!
Happy reading everyone!