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Archive for the ‘both/and’ Category

Taking a cue from Lesbian Dad, whose back-to-school post can be found here and Mombian, whose post can be found here. This post is more of a reflection and perhaps a few “instructive” thoughts than these other two, as I don’t know that we have tons of expertise around here, but I wanted to take this turning point as a moment to reflect.

Q is starting 4th grade tomorrow, and I’ve written here already about his sweet, sweet school. A school that embraces difference and many identities. A place he’s usually quite happy to be. So, we are so very lucky that this is the place he’s going off to tomorrow. That I’m handing him off into the arms (literally and figuratively) of people who know, respect, and love all parts of our whole (queer) family and our boy.

But, Q has been anxious about the start of school this year. Not happy for the transition from lazy summer days to days full of others. Though he loves it, we know, on some level, that school is hard for Q. As a wise person in our lives said recently, “It’s hard to be Q out in the world.” And that challenge includes school. It’s hard to swim upstream when those around you are easily moving downstream. Even if those around you are more than happy for you to swim against the current, it’s still different. And takes a whole heck of a lot of work. I’ve been working to have lots of compassion for this aspect of Q’s identity and life. And for the fact that he’s still a bit too young to fully understand it, in spite of how wise-beyond-his-years he can be in certain domains.

So tomorrow, he goes off. I’m certain he’ll be okay. And that it will be hard. On levels he can identify and on those he can’t. So were I to give any advice, provide any guidelines, I’d say to look for those levels of comfort and discomfort that your children have — those that they can name and those they can’t. Know that the tears at the end of the day may not be about the fact that your kiddo can’t find her book but may in fact be about the emotional let-down necessary after a long day of just being herself.

I know there will be a whole bunch of conversations we’ll have again tomorrow and in the days to come. Conversations we have a lot. “Do you want us to talk to anyone about it being okay for you to use the single stall bathrooms?” “Do you need any help talking to the kids in your class who are new to the school?” “Is there anything we can tell your teachers to help you feel more comfortable?” Conversations like that, plus a whole lot of waiting, watching, hoping, and then trusting ourselves that we can be a safe and rejuvenating place to come back to. To recharge, feel at home, and then go back out and tackle the world all over again the next day.

I’m looking towards tomorrow with hope and trust….and a wee bit of anxiety, awaiting how things turn out “on the other side.” Hoping that all of your back to schools have been full — of love, acceptance, understanding, and support — really, whatever it is that you need and hope. For you, your families, your kids.

Random Summer Stylin’ (plus “cool” attitude)

Image

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I’m in an ongoing conversation with a teacher/friend about gender and identity. She shared how her 5 year old son is very into the notion that “colors are for everyone” lately. No “boy colors” or “girl colors.” Any color for any person.

In talking about Q and how confining sex and assumptions around gender can be, she suggested the notion (which was really suggested by this wise 5 year old, but not in so many words) that gender is for everyone. As in, any gender for any person. Or every gender for every person. Or whatever gender anyone wants. No restrictions based on stereotypes. It came from the suggestion, by said wise 5 year old, that on a particular day when he was hanging out with Q and folks kept thinking Q was a girl, that maybe, in fact, he WAS a girl that day. None of us really know, he suggested. So wise. And so doable inside of the notion that gender is for everyone. So, I’m going with this conceptualization. I like it and am using it.

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Thanks to these folks, I now have a large stash of the posters that I wrote about in my previous post.

So, I thought I’d do my first ever blog giveaway!

If you’d like a copy of this poster, leave a comment and I’ll enter you in the drawing. I’ll mail out five copies to folks (I’ll use a random number generator/my wife to choose the numbers corresponding with the comments). Feel free in your comment to say why the poster speaks to you, to share other such resources/blogs, etc.

Looking forward to hearing from folks!

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Of the car variety, that is. Have you ever noticed that phenomenon? Someone mentions they love VW beetles, and suddenly you see them all over? Or you see a witty bumper sticker for the first time, and the next thing you know, it seems that everyone at Whole Foods is sporting the same sticker? Well, it’s been like that for me since starting this blog. Sometimes in very small ways, and sometimes in profound ways.

On the subject of bumper stickers, yesterday I encountered one that said simply “Support tenderness in men,” or something perhaps a bit more elegant than my own butchered rephrasing. I thought to myself, “tenderness:” we’ve always known that our boy was tender in many ways. And I think that we’ve tried to nurture that tenderness, knowing that the world can use more gentle and tender men. More men who are in touch with their emotions and able to show them. And even though this sometimes means big crying fits for Q, it also means that he loves the simple beauty of a tender rose or the wonder of a butterfly’s precious wings. So it’s nice to know that there’s at least a few others out there vocalizing their support for tenderness in men (and boys).

And then there’s our dear friend X, who loves Q like no other can. And who, as you may have read in his comment, also struggles with the idea of Q wearing dresses on occasion, although he knows that deep down this is a learning opportunity for all of us (boy is it!). I know he’s been thinking hard about this whole concept of Q in dresses, Q and his identity, and how Q’s identity pushes at social boundaries at times. He related to us that he recently visited friends who have a boy near to Q’s age. Who also likes to wear dresses. So it’s not an isolated phenomenon, realized X. And he felt less alone, I think. And a bit more at peace, I think. And I think that’s why I write this too, to reach out to find out that I’m not alone, to open my eyes to other boundary-pushing instances, which are popping up all around me, and to let others out there who have kiddos like Q or hope to raise kiddos like Q know that they are not alone.

So lately, in seeing things like other boys at Q’s school outwardly embracing the fact that they love pink, visiting a classroom there and learning that it’s the boys who most love to play with the dolls and that the teacher embraces this, and seeing another boy or two pushing the gender envelope with his clothing, I don’t feel so much alone. I think it’s that beetle phenomenon. I’ve been thinking so much about Q and his unique identity. And then made the leap to share that journey publicly. And now, that journey begins to cross paths with others who may be along similar pathways. I like the eye-opening that is happening here.

painted nails climbing trees

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