• Wed, Mar 19 - 10:00 am ET

There Is Something Wrong With Parents Of Nine-Year-Olds Who Don’t Let Them Love My Little Pony

Fans Celebrate Twenty Five Years Of My Little PonyWe have been discussing the case of Grayson Bruce, the nine-year-old boy who was told he couldn’t carry his My Little Pony backpack to school due to bullying concerns on Mommyish. I’ve been thinking about this kid a lot, mainly because I have a nine-year-old myself, and even though she is a girl I know what it’s like for a kid to be bullied and made to feel “not cool” because they still play with certain things or are interested in things other kids tease them about. My Little Pony, especially the Friendship is Magic reboot, is extremely popular with elementary school kids. The show addresses issues like bullying, being different, sticking up for yourself and friendship. It is funny and silly and joyous and a great show for kids in this age demographic, kids who aren’t yet navigating the pre-pubescent politics of middle school, the kids who are starting to learn to find their own identities but who still want to sit on your lap sometimes before they go to bed at night.

I’ve got a nine-year-old girl, but she wasn’t that different from my son who was nine not that long ago. He is 11 now, and I still see flickers of his childhood, even though it is starting to become hidden by a veneer of coolness, of pulling away, of sarcasm and eye-rolling and less time asking for hugs and more time asking for the trinkets of teenager-hood, the band T-shirts, the shooter video games, the skateboards, the heavy metal song downloads. He is growing away, growing up. It wasn’t so long ago he was like his sister, my girl who still plays with dolls and loves cartoons, who combs her pony’s hair and comes home with her feelings hurt because she was told that reading isn’t cool.

Nine is so young. So young. Nine is new to this earth, nine is nothing. In the span of a life, if we are lucky, nine is a drop in the bucket. We all say this, like broken records, we all sigh and hold our hands and we say kids today grow up so fast and they do, they do when my kid comes home and tells me that someone told her dolls are no longer cool and when they ask us if they are getting fat and we read the horror stories, elementary school kids getting stoned in the bathroom and committing suicide and a million other awful things no child should ever be exposed to. Kids today grow up so fast because the world makes them, we make them, we make them when we teach them that if they don’t like a backpack a kid wears to school that we tell the kid he isn’t allowed to wear the backpack,  the logic stated so eloquently and simply by Grayson Bruce’s own mother who said saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying, is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape.  It’s flawed logic, it doesn’t make any sense.

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  • Kendra

    There should be disclaimer in the title, when something is going to make me sad. I was expecting something that would make me laugh and make me angry. But now I just feel sad!!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      #sadtriggerwarning

  • Alex Lee

    Was not aware of the deluxe model backpack with integrated hoodie-mane:

    These things are going to fly (sorry) off the shelves. Beware of counterfeits.

    My eight year old has to write sentences for her daily homework. Apparently I’m her favorite subject to write about. One of her vocabulary words was “loaf”. Her sentence:

    “My dad loafs around the house because he is silly.”

    Growing up WAY too fast.

    • LadyClodia

      That backpack is definitely 20% cooler.

    • Kay_Sue

      I want one…

    • pixie

      So do I…

    • Mary

      Do they have that but with Fluttershy? I like her and Rarity the most :-) I most relate to Fluttershy more often tho (and sometimes Rarity)

    • Alex Lee

      I do not know how I came to be an MLP concierge but I was not able to locate a Fluttershy or Rarity backpack on Amazon or eBay.

      Amazon does have a DJ Pon-3 backpack at the predatory price of 69.99:

      http://www.amazon.com/My-Little-Pony-Friendship-Backpack/dp/B00EIKCO52

    • pixie

      I totally have a DJ Pon3 sweater that has ears and a horn on the hood. #notashamed

    • Natasha B

      I want one!

  • pixie

    I agree with you 100%, Eve. And it’s really depressing. I hope by the time I have kids the world will be a better and more accepting place, but sadly I doubt it will be.

    • Mary

      Yes but every little bit helps :-)
      Maybe there’ll be more gay parents or kids in kids TV shows showing that it’s okay. Or boys who just happen to like “girl things” and just not make a big deal of it, just put it in there.

    • pixie

      Yes, definitely :)

  • Kay_Sue

    We really do force them to (we as in a society). We had a saying during aid trips to Costa Rica in my youth: It’s not wrong, it’s just different. If you were a fly on the wall, you’d hear me say it to my kids any time they encounter someone who is a little different. I feel like it’s such a crucial lesson, and I hope that it’s one that they absorb–that it’s okay for them to be different and okay for others to be different too.

    • Valerie

      So much this.

  • Valerie

    Eve, this was so sweet and all so very true. I love reading articles by parents with older children because it really does stop me in my “harried mom of young kids” haze and make me appreciate that they are little right now. And that I should let them stay that way as long as possible. I found myself wishing the other day for when my daughter is old enough for her and her brother to get off the bus so I can stop paying for childcare. I hate when I have those thoughts. A little perspective and a gentle reminder of how brief these years are is a very good thing.

  • LadyClodia

    I sadly think that even my 5 year old is too concerned about what his friends think to ever carry a My Little Pony bag even though he loves the show. He doesn’t want to look at the Pony stuff at the toy store because it’s in the girl’s section. It makes me sad because I would totally let him have it. I just wonder how he will be when he does get older. My husband and I still watch cartoons and wear t-shirts with cartoons on them, so he sees that adults can like those things too. But I wonder if he’ll not want to do those things when he’s just for the reason that we do them. I’d like to say that I still have a few years until I have to worry about it, but it will be something I have to deal with sooner than I’d like I’m sure.

    • JLH1986

      There is just so much going on in this situation. School, kids all pressuring this kid, but even toy makers and toy stores having a “girls section” and a “boys section” I get its meant to help parents find things, but “girl legos” and “boy legos”. It’s just a clusterf*ck.

    • tSubh Dearg

      Have you seen this campaign in the UK and Ireland addressing the “girls” and “boys” sections in toy shops: http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk/
      It actually has started to make a difference to the way stores display items.
      Especially after one mum sent in a pic of the British Science Museum sets only in the boys section and it was forwarded to the museum director who was seriously pissed off about it and said they would be starting to check on retailers to ensure they were not genderising science sets as they were all about promotiing women in the sciences.

    • LadyClodia

      I did notice that a lot of the science sets were in the boys section at our toy store too. And yeah, it doesn’t make any sense. That’s awesome that the “Let Toys be Toys” campaign is actually getting results. Now we need a campaign like that in the US too.

    • tSubh Dearg

      AFAIR the campaign was started by a pissed off mum and it has kind of snowballed. To get it started in the US I reckon all it would take would be American mothers getting in touch with the Let Toys Be Toys and asking for help getting going.

    • Mary

      You should just take him in there or buy a toy of his favorite character for him, let him know it’s okay :-)

    • LadyClodia

      The last time I did get him to go into the aisle, but he didn’t really want to look at anything. For his 5th birthday he picked out Pinkie Pie walkie-talkies, which he saw online and I bought for him, and he was very excited about those. But that was online, and clearly he feels differently when he’s at the store.

  • Bewilderment

    High school kids would think he is the epitome of cool. You might have a couple brats who pick, but especially the girls would be begging to mess with it.

  • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

    This makes me sad. I already see my mother voicing her discomfort when my son is wearing pink pajamas (they fit his giant self and they were clean and he looks adorable, who the eff cares) and he is THREE MONTHS OLD. There’s going to be enough ugly messages coming from the rest of the world if he decides someday that he likes pink stuff and ponies and shoes, I don’t need that garbage coming from inside the family too.

    • Valerie

      I took shit from men in my family when I used pink BIBS for our son that I still had from when our daughter was a baby. I told them if they had a problem with it then they could feel free to chase him around with their hand cupped under his chin waiting for his smelly reflux milk vomit to come out. Ignorant asshats.

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      I took shit from men

      just quoting out of context.

    • Valerie

      You are such an ass. Lol.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      I’m already hearing about that sort of thing from a female relative, and I don’t even have one kid yet! I keep hearing, “If you buy quality stuff, you’ll be able to use it again. Unless you have a boy.”
      I can only assume they think that if you put pink stuff near a penis, it will dry up and fall off like an umbilical cord stump.

    • Valerie

      I know. Its such horseshit. His swing was pink, his bibs were pink and a few onesies too. He didn’t have to share PJ’s as she was born in early fall and he in early summer- the sizes never really worked out. But I totally would have if they did. Such a stupid thing to get your panties in a wad over.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      My relatives are more concerned that my kid might catch Teh Gheys from being around pink stuff. *eyeroll*

    • Bethany Ramos

      Ha, all we have are pink bibs bought by grandma because my mother is either blind or very progressive.

    • Mary

      Well if she keeps it up just let her know that if she continues then she won’t be able to see her grandson again until she changes her behavior. – also that you love your son, regardless of what he wears or likes <3

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      A+ icon :)

    • ted3553

      ugh. My son loved shoes from the time he would crawl and would spend endless amounts of time putting them on his hands and crawling around and then on our feet. I heard many comments about how he’d be gay and while I know they’re just off hand and meant to be funny, it’s kind of sad. My parents have a box of My Little Ponies at their house from when my sisters and I were little and both my nephew and son play with them. who cares?

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      seriously. For those who think being gay is a “choice”, there sure are a lot of them invested in the idea that kids shouldn’t be “contaminated” by having the wrong clothes/toys/hobbies. :/

    • Alicia Kiner

      My son too. And he used to LOVE to go shopping, too. He liked to people-watch. He got my lipstick one day and put it on and said look mommy, I’m just like you. Funniest thing EVER. My dad, who was over to pick something up wasn’t amused. He was like, if you aren’t careful, that kid will be gay. I said, so?

  • momjones

    If it’s any consolation, I had a teenager who loved getting a Holiday Barbie throughout high school.

    • Valerie

      :-) My mom still likes to get the Barbie Hallmark ornaments for her tree every year. Nothing wrong with Barbie after childhood!

    • Mary

      If it’s any consolation to yourself, I’m a 28 yr old woman and I love that MLP show (Fluttershy & Rarity I like the best because I can relate to them)

    • pixie

      I’m a 23 year old woman who adores MLP and for this past halloween dressed up as Derpy Hooves, complete with wings, tail, and ears (plus wore a colourful tutu) and went to one of my graduate-level seminars dressed like that ;)
      And I love Fluttershy, though I see a bit of myself in all the mane 6. I think Princess Luna is one of my top favourites, though, mostly because of the ROYAL VOICE lol

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      A Brony!

    • pixie

      If I was stroppy, I’d tell you the correct term is Pegasister, but I’m not and I don’t really care if people call me a Brony. ;)

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      List of things I had to look up this morning

      Tommy Tutone (thanks Kay!)

      stroppy

      Pegasister

    • Kay_Sue

      You’re so welcome. :)

    • momjones

      I love MLP too. My granddaughter is a huge fan, so is her mother AND her father, a mechanic, who prides himself in the fact that he can name them all (and maybe even their Cutie marks). This same daughter, a high school Math teacher, had a Brony in one of her classes. They had so much fun discussing all the aspects of the show :).

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Your daughter gave my daughter her MLP cardboard stable case. Now I have to give it back to your granddaughter’s along with my daughters ponies when she outgrows them.

    • momjones

      They are definitely “Old School Mid 80s MLPs” – She loved those along with She-Ra (ask about the time she almost burned the house down with her She-Ra doll), her Jem dolls and of course, her Barbies!

  • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

    So… as long as we’re all clear

    MLP = OK

    Teletubbys = Spawns of Satan

  • Marisa Miller

    What I don’t understand is: that kid was so obviously named b/c of a Batman jones the parents had (Dick Grayson/Bruce Wayne). Shouldn’t a fixation on SuperHeroes/masculinity on the part of the parents be part of the discussion?

    • Marisa

      Lol, what? Should they have named him Wonder Woman?

    • Marisa Miller

      I think that people who are so obsessed with comic book characters that they name their kids after them are already on a quest to find tits on an ant if their spawn is not received as specially as they believe is required. I have a 9 year-old son. He likes to wear rainbow print. We don’t live in Los Angeles anymore where most things are tolerated or celebrated, we live near Sacramento surrounded by NRA types and men who chew tobacco. I hate them and the way they raise their boy children, but it is what it is. If I don’t want the little asshole across the way to tell Evan that he “eats man-gina” (which then results in him throat-punching said asshole) I have to explain that people are not nice and it’s up to him how he wants to be perceived. I also have a friend with a 6 year-old named Grayson who has flowing shoulder length hair and is allowed to wear his Batman costume to school (in Marina del Rey) At my son’s school, in Rocklin, he would be ridiculed and then told to leave the show at home.. Would you suspend all the bullies who are just subscribing to their parents effed-up Christian right doctrine? I don’t think it’s okay, I think it’s America and not much can be done to change the opinion of a child whose dad drives a duelly and has a sticker of a little boy and a cross peeing on the word Obama.

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      “Would you suspend all the bullies who are just subscribing to their parents effed-up Christian right doctrine?”

      Um. YES. I mean, maybe not automatic suspension, but some form of disciplinary action, because the the behavior is inappropriate. You don’t have to change anyone’s opinion, you just need to make it clear that harassing and assaulting someone whose opinion doesn’t match yours is not an acceptable behavior and will not be tolerated.

      From other articles on this story, I get the impression that the parents have discussed the backpack with the son and how other kids may perceive it, but the child chooses to wear the backpack. The issue is with the school’s apparent policy of “If you don’t want to be bullied, don’t be a target” That’s not just a flawed idea, it’s toxic. If anything, it reinforces to the bullies that bullying the different kid is the correct thing to be doing.

      Also, I feel it’s clear that the reason the boy is being told the backpack makes him a target for bullies is because it’s considered inappropriate to his gender. I have a BIG problem with schools deciding to enforce gender roles. In fact, unless girls were also told they could not bring My Little Pony accessories to school, then this is blatant gender discrimination.

    • Marisa

      Where do I even start? It sounds like your experience has made you comfortable stereotyping and calling it “part of the discussion”. I disagree. Even if I accept that a) everyone in Los Angeles is tolerant and b) everyone in Sacramento is a gun-toting, tobacco chewing Christian Right nut job, I’m not sure why that’s relevant. Grayson Bruce’s parents are into Batman. So fucking what? I’m into Star Wars — if I name my child Luke or Leia does that make me a bad parent? Grayson Bruce’s parents are the one’s outraged that their son is being bullied over a damn backpack, for crying out loud. Probably by a bunch of kids named Evan. You can think anything you like about a parent’s decision to name their child something you don’t approve of, but suggesting it sets them up to be a certain type of person is like suggesting being born a boy or a girl or any combination thereof can predict the same. It’s dangerous. And it’s dumb.

    • G.S.

      I’m surprised anyone names their kids after superheroes. What with the parents always brutally dying and all. Especially Batman. At LEAST HALF of his thing is that his parents are dead,

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      I dunno, I think Harley Quinn Smith is a pretty awesome name. (OMG, she’s a grown-up now. I am so old.)

  • Rachel Sea

    I don’t see that at all. I see kids being coddled to the point where they grow up emotionally stunted, unable to take care of themselves and lead fully adult lives. Remember when an 18 year old was an adult? That’s not really the way anymore.

  • Rachel Sea

    I don’t see that at all. I see kids being coddled to the point where they grow up emotionally stunted, unable to take care of themselves and lead fully adult lives. Remember when an 18 year old was an adult? That’s not really the way anymore.

  • a_narwhal

    When I was a kid (around 14) I liked to wear black lipstick to school, I got picked on a lot for it. The principal brought me into the office and told me that I was bringing the bulling upon myself and then made a rule specifically against black lipstick – which I then refused to abide by. I feel for this kid.
    but that kid has a good mom to not attempt to dissuade him from what he likes and to stand up for him… so there’s that.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    I said this the first time we had the MLP thing the other day (when this news first came out), but I have an 11 year old male student who is a total Bronie. He is not in the least bit ashamed of it. He sometimes gives out MLP cards to his classmates. They never make fun of him. They take the cards, say thanks, (some of them trade them around until they have one they like the look of), put them in their binders, and forget about it. I was shocked the first time that no one gave him any shit about it, but they seem to have just accepted that he just marches to the beat of his own drum. And the rest are happy to let him, and I think sometimes even a bit jealous that he gets to like what he wants without worrying about what’s cool.

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