So, today the boy decided to wear a dress to school. Needless to say, I was hit smack in the face with all the fears that arose yesterday. What will people think? I’ll know them this time around. Will they look at him or me funny? How will I know if they’re thinking it’s strange? Will he be okay?
In spite of that internal monologue, we set off to school in the dress. Q’s teacher embraced him with open arms and proclaimed her love for the dress. No one said a word. Were there a few looks? I’m not certain. I’m paranoid, so I thought there were, but who really knows, right? At least this taught me about my own level of paranoia.
My saddest move of the day, though, was bringing shorts for him to change into before an after-school class. I just didn’t know how that other teacher would respond. Perhaps that community is not as safe as the school community. I secretly hoped he’d be sweltering in the dress, long sleeves, and tights. So I offered the shorts. He was so glad I had them! “Let’s take off the long sleeves and the tights, Mom. Then put on the dress with the shorts underneath. That’s how P wore her shorts today.” Stymied! At that moment, I had to do two things.
1. Get behind his choice 100%
2. Deal with my own shame, embarrassment, fear, whatever we want to call it.
I think I did well with #1. And #2 is the reason for this whole blog, it seems. It is so hard for me to get my head around the fact that I have fear or shame or embarrassment or a whole other host of undesirable emotions around Q’s desire to do things his own way/dress like a girl/whatever. Truly hard. I’ve come out, struggled with that, dealt with others’ negative feelings about my queerness, dealt with plenty an uncomfortable situation where I’ve chosen to go against the tide. Yet here I struggle. I guess it’s normal, because the strength of the collective societal tide as it relates to gender roles is SO VERY STRONG. Yet I’m ashamed that I have to struggle. So I’m working through that here. Thanks to your ears for listening.
Back to our afternoon, though…I think the crowning glory, as I grappled with my internal monologue was our entrance into this other activity (left intentionally vague). Q’s teacher greeted him with great enthusiasm. Didn’t give a second look to the dress. No comment. No sideways glance. No questioning look to me. OK, OK, OK, I thought. So my worry is huge, yet there seems to be a generous amount of safety and open-mindedness in our little world here. But I do know that I worry for a reason, because beyond our little world, there’s a great big one. The source of that great big tide of societal norms that want to box in my boy.
…More to come on the sign I’ve considered posting on my chest when walking next to the dear boy in a dress, those who’ve already come out in solidarity, and why I actually want folks to read this blog, think about it, and pass it on to others.