You know that phrase, "all boy?" I've never much liked that phrase, because what does that even mean? But if there were ever any boy who'd be called all boy, it is Huck. Huck is all boy. Whatever that means. Fart jokes, constant moving around, every story he writes at his preschool literature group ends with somebody pooping, he's got the manic energy of your classically mischievous, get-into-trouble, cannot-sit-still little boy. 

Huck also has a thing for lipstick. Any time I leave the house in lipstick, Huck insists on a wearing some himself. Because lipstick is beautiful, and who wouldn't want to look beautiful?

I love Huck at this stage, because at this stage there are no limits to what a kid is allowed to like. Tinker Bell movies? Awesome. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Rad. Zombies? Obviously. Rapunzel? Yeah, Rapunzel has some really cool hair. At this age, Huck is allowed to like whatever he wants to like and society is pretty willing to give him a pass, and I hope so much to be able to preserve that little bubble of freedom for him for as long as humanly possible. It is such a fun time. Huck gets the concept of gender, instinctively I think all kids know exactly who + how they are, even if names or definitions are limited. But right now that's the extent of it. Nothing is "girly," nobody has cooties, there are no reputations to protect, everything is curiosity-driven, and enjoyment comes purely from a true gut level.

A lot of this story is not mine to tell. Huck is at the age now where his own private life is rich + full + his to control. But from a parenting standpoint, a little bit of it definitely bears recording. This has been such a fun, exploratory time, for all of us. We're trying to let any gendered ideas be as wiggly as can be, and when Huck asks body-oriented questions, as kids do at his age, we try to be as literal and straight-forward as possible. We've been exploring the idea that the difference between boys + girls comes down to just hormones. When you think about it, all our parts are basically the same, except our hormones have made some parts bigger and some parts smaller, some function differently, and truly, those hormone levels can be found all over the spectrum, can't they? Closer to one end or closer to the other, somewhere in the middle, it's all gravy. We feel like it's the first tricky parenting concept we've come up against, and we both feel really good about how it's working out so far. (The other day Huck asked, "Who made me, mom?" and I answered proudly, "Me!" But that's as far as that one's gotten.)

Brandon gets a lot of credit for this one, Brandon is probably the most forward-thinking old-fashioned guy I've ever known. You want nail polish? Rock it, Huck. You like those pink skinny jeans over there in the girl's section? Dude, so do I, let's get them. Lipstick? Sure, you want red or pink? From day one Brandon has encouraged Huck to be proud of what he likes, it's been such a pleasure to watch. Brandon is a fantastic dad. 

The other day, Huck got his hair cut. His hair had reached that nutso shaggy stage where he was starting to look like an orphan from an 80s sitcom. Hair cuts are a collaborative effort at our house, the kid knows what the kid wants. My job is only to execute the final design. He very firmly requested a swoosh in the front--the swoosh is all-important--and then it needed to be long in the back, like Rapunzel's. I told him, "Huck, that is called a mullet. I don't think you want a mullet," to which Huck said, "but it's COOOOOOL." And so, we mullet-ed. 

I tried to err on the side of the Euro mullet. You know, more soccer, less Billy Ray. ;) I gotta say, I'm feeling it. Only a kid like Huck could pull this off, right? He is so proud of his super cool hair. I am so proud to be his mom. Some days I'm so proud I could burst. He's just such a rad human being to hang out with + occasionally shout "no running in the house!" at. Four is shaping up to be pretty all-right. It's a really good time to be Huck's mom :).


  1. This post is why I love you and why soon everyone will probably know your name (books out in weeks- yay!)

  2. I've got one of these "all boy" boys, too. Imaginative and noisy and sweet, and usually dressed in head-to-toe black with purple glitter sneakers. Lovely post. Rock on, mama!

  3. you're an amazing mom! I love how you let Hulk be his own little self. It's so refreshing. The cut is definitely soccer, nothing in there suggesting Billy Ray ;)

  4. I think my comment got deleted. But kudos to how you handle the gender question. I think I'll use your answer from now on.

  5. This time that you have with your first born, treasure it. There is a part of me that will always feel like I never got to spend enough time with just my oldest child. To this day, the times he and I shared together, the two of us, those are the sweetest memories I have.

  6. I love this post. My husband comes from a long line of families with ONLY boys, and I know technically every baby has the same probability re: gender, but I predict we'll have boys. I feel really weird about the phrase "all boy" and definitely think the phrase "boys will be boys" should never be uttered; it's so refreshing to see your take on parenting Huck! Definitely bookmarking this one in my "for future reference" folder. :) Keep being awesome, Holbrooks.

  7. I've been reading your blog for about 4 years and this is my absolute favorite thing you've ever written. I love that you are encouraging to Huck to be whoever you he wants to be right now and giving "wiggly" answers to gender questions. My wife is transgender and we often whine about the constrictions of the gender binary in our society. She works with young children and it's not uncommon for her to be asked, "Are you a boy or a girl?" Which is a good question and perfectly valid! I'd love to hear more about how you are dealing with Huck's questions in the future. We hope to start a family some day soon so these things are often on our minds.

  8. You and your husband are awesome parents!

  9. Applause! Double thumbs up. A fist bump and a little finger dance. This makes me happy.

  10. What an awesome little guy you have, and what a great mama you are! I have 3 boys and my oldest, Maximus is almost 5 and he is at this same stage and I love it. He is all about boy things, Legos, ninja's, space, and everything in between. But he will also watch Sophia the first with me and loves to have his nails painted blue. I love letting them just be who they are and hey, who isn't curious to try on a dress or wear lipstick. My Jack who is almost 4 years old is also so awesome with what he likes, I have not cut his hair since he was two and doesn't want me to, and I love it. Boys are so fun. Sorry this turned out to be a paragraph...But I love your blog and try to read it as often as I can because you have such a way with words and its wonderful and refreshing. :)

  11. Omg I love that hair! I always said if I had boys one would have a mullet and the other would have a rat tail! Hah

  12. Rock on, Natalie! I'm not a parent myself, but it's still so inspiring and refreshing to see the way you're raising the next generation.

  13. Natalie, you & Brandon just keep on trucking. You are open and amazing, and are easily a truly beautiful guide on how to raise kids in this modern day. Thank you for being so forward-thinking. Huck's one lucky dude.

  14. I loved reading this. Keep doing what you're doing — what feels right to YOU and Brandon.
    I imagine you get a lot of comments on your parenting style on the internet (deep dark mean internet).
    Don't let anyone bother you. You're awesome and Huck is such a cool kid.


    Valentina Duracinsky Blog

  15. You are just wonderful. This is how my Husband & I are parenting our daughter and hopefully we're doing it correctly. My Husband is frequently out in public with his nails painted courtesy of our daughter and it's always confused me why people comment on it - he always gets "you're so brave" and I think it's weird it's even comment worthy.

    Btw, Huck can certainly pull off that hairdo. He is one awesome kid.

  16. Love it! My little boy always wanted to wear nail he did. One time we went on holiday to Bali and he got a manicure everyday and the ladies would paint the teensiest flowers on his little finger nails! Fast forward now and he's nine and not at all interested in nail polish, but I am so glad he got to explore it when he did.

    Trust uour gut when your parenting, there are no rules, you can only do what feels right for you and your family. And thumbs up Brandon!

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. This is fantastic. One day I took my two girls to a household with two little boys. My daughter was wearing sparkly red shoes. The little boy, maybe 3, gasped at how beautiful they were. "Fewfull!" Of course he wanted to wear them. I was so relieved that the parents were cool with it and let their son rock those sparkly red heels. OF COURSE a human would recognize beauty and want to drape themselves in that beauty, regardless of their gender. It's so natural. It's all the gendered ideas they get later that are unnatural. Anyway. Great job, you two.

  19. Great post Natalie....4 is a great age, glad that you are loving it :)

  20. I honestly have a hard time with this sort of thing. My 5 year old likes dressing up his puppies in my twins old clothes, he often asks to watch power puff girls, the pony cartoon(i forget the name), and he has no interest in sports, and coming from a family full of tough men I question my parenting, does he need to be around more boys? what am I doing wrong? I think I just need to relax!

  21. his hair cut is cute by the way.

  22. I have always enjoyed your blog occasionally, but now that I'm a new mother contemplating how I will answer my daughter's bajillion questions (especially gender and other similar sticky subjects), I'm appreciating your perspective on parenting so much more. You're an awesome mom. Rock on.

  23. You guys are the cutest. Huck is lucky to have such wonderful parents.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I've been an avid reader for years, and this is one of my favorite posts ever!

    I love how you let Huck explore his own path, regardless of gender. I've noticed it over the years, beginning with awesome picture of Huck at a birthday party wearing a tutu. Because tutus make anyone look like a rock star.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  26. What a lucky, lucky kid Huck is! You guys are rocking the parenting thing, I think.

    I don't have children yet, but I hope to raise them up in a household like yours—openminded, encouraging, creative. I, too, dislike the phrases "all boy" or "all girl"...I just would never want my children to feel bound by constrictions or to feel "less than" if their interests/hobbies don't fall squarely into the column of what boys/girls "should" do/like. There is room enough for all of us, whoever we are :)

    Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and experiences. Keep on keepin' on! And go, Huck!

  27. Such a wonderful post! I love your attitude towards the gender issue. Also, I love your writing :) That mullet is bomb, by the way.

    Circus & Bloom

  28. That mullet is RAD! i want one.

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  30. oh I LOVE the hair:) I can relate to the whole lipstick thing, the other day I was writing a birthday card for my dad, also one from my son Reece (3) to his grandad, I thought it would be a great idea if i put some of my red lipstick on Reece (you know to kiss the card) and since then he requests red lipstick almost daily. I was starting to get a bit worried, oh no what would others think!! but you know what, you are right, its great:) let them explore all they wantxxx

  31. oh I LOVE the hair:) I can relate to the whole lipstick thing, the other day I was writing a birthday card for my dad, also one from my son Reece (3) to his grandad, I thought it would be a great idea if i put some of my red lipstick on Reece (you know to kiss the card) and since then he requests red lipstick almost daily. I was starting to get a bit worried, oh no what would others think!! but you know what, you are right, its great:) let them explore all they wantxxx

  32. Natalie + Huck + Brandon = AMAZEBALLS! I love you guys. Thanks for sharing all your beautiful stories xxxx

  33. You guys sound like such awesome parents. Huck is one lucky kid.

  34. Wow! What honest and open-heart and minded people you and your husband are. I think you're stance on organic self discovery is a beautiful thing and I'm sure your little man will grow into a wonderful and kind young man. My mother told me how she had a teacher that would let her classmates play dress-up and all the kids took turns wearing these bright red heels. Its that type of encouragement that nurtures tolerance and imagination. Btw, love the "party in the front, bizness in the back" cut. I'd like to suggest a rat tail for next time.
    Texas Jak

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  37. I love this! Great post :)

  38. This post made me really happy. It's good to see that there are parents out there ready to really let their kids be themselves and enjoy whatever they find is cool. May I add that you've got an absolutely adorable child !!!

    xo, Charlie

  39. Yeah, article about gender education was absolutely right, It scaring me.

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