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Archive for October, 2009

Another blog I read has a tradition of Gratitude Fridays. There’s much that I’m grateful for, but I think it can be summed up by my heart full of love for my boy.

My boy, who can so easily morph from being dressed up as a vampire for his school’s Fall Fest one moment to a “pink kitty” (of his design) the next. That flexibility, the open-mindedness…I love it!

What are you grateful for today?

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I’m so not a fan of “holidays” that are trumped up opportunities for commercialism. For me, Halloween is one of them, though not as bad as some.

We don’t do much in our family for Halloween, though Q usually has some sort of costume — last year, an entirely purple fairy. This year, a vampire. Mighty flexible in his presentations, that kid!

What irks me the most is how maddeningly stereotypical we (society) are about costumes and costume choices for kids. We expect boys to be pirate and girls to be princesses. Or perhaps boys to be lions and girls to be cute puppies. Or pandas. But the moment a girl dons a ghoulish costume or a boy puts on a fairy costume (or a tutu, for that matter), it’s shocking. Furthermore, that girl is accepted, and is perhaps “daring” to take on such a scary identity. The boy — the on in the fairy costume — he gets little more than sideways glances, perhaps a few whispered comments passed behind his back. Because society isn’t okay with that type of crossing the lines. Not for boys. And Halloween just turns a huge magnifying glass on those dynamics. Hence contributing to my distaste for the holiday. Call me uncool, lacking in the ability to have a good time…fine. All I’m saying is read between the lines a bit, and Halloween provides us a perfect chance to do just that.

 

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This photo fails to capture the accompanying patent leather shoes.... :)

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Today Obama signed into law the Hate Crimes Bill. Inclusive of gender identity. Groundbreaking stuff, I tell you. And not an easy path. I have yet to hit the airwaves, so to speak, to here from those who decry this action. And yet I can’t help but honor those who have given their blood (literally), sweat, and tears in the fight to bring this bill to fruition. For that deep courage, thank you.

 

My own little guy’s fight against stereotypes, while certainly not as monumental, has definitely hit some bumps of late. Hence the many questions I’ve posed here. It’s been wonderful hearing from you. Those of you just stopping by for the first time (thanks NY Times parenting blog commenter for the mention!), welcome, and please do join in the conversation!

Q is in first grade, and the gendered pressures are definitely hitting him in a new way. While in kindergarten he wrote for his first writing assignment that something he likes about himself is that he breaks stereotypes, he’s now hitting some bumps in that road. Recently, his pink and purple bandanas have garnered him some teasing. And as he grows his hair out, he’s VERY choosy about what he’ll use to hold it back out of his eyes. Whereas headbands used to be de rigour last year, they are off the table as an option for school. He’s also making certain choices, explaining that they work “only on the weekends.” Partly, this breaks my heart, as he encounters the reality of society (albeit in his generally lovely and accepting, sheltered school environment). Yet he’s also been able to take this opportunity to grow his strength. To tell other kids that he can wear pink “because I like it!”

He has a new conviction behind his choices, and I so love that about this boy. He’s learning a bit more about what it means to stay true to his own likes and beliefs, and that will surely serve him well in life, whether it’s about what he wears, who he hangs out with, what he does for fun, or what he does for work.

And, this journey does take courage on his part. And brings some sadness and frustration on his part (and mine/ours). But I’m thinking that today’s signing of the Hate Crime Bill is a fine example of where these little acts of courage can get us. And I know that my boy’s courage will get us far, too.

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All it takes is love as the lens!

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So, to follow up on my post about gender segregation among kiddos in play, as well as the amazing responses that folks offered on the various things we think are at the root of this, I ask for your thoughts again.

How do we start to disrupt these patterns? One “I only ‘comment’ in person” commenter suggested that we’re drawn to folks who share a similar energy to our own. So, following that line, what can we do during the early days of a young person’s life to feed that energy such that it is open and flexible, such that most boys don’t veer in one direction while most girls veer in the other?

Sure, there are the obvious things, like modeling, in our actions and our speaking ways that we can break out of the box of societal gender norms. But what else?

I’m looking forward, again, to hearing your wise voices…

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