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My daughter’s favorite colors right now are pink and purple. Fine by me.

My son’s favorite color right now is purple. Fine by me.

Though these choices have remained static for both of them for a while, they could very well change tomorrow to something like yellow and green or blue or silver or teal.

Great! Perfect!

Because…they are colors. Favorites. Whims. They mean nothing at all. To me.

Yet, to others, they mean so much. My daughter likes pink and purple. Obvious choices, think many people. And, that must mean that she also likes princesses, and dress up, and baby dolls, and sparkly things. And, while she likes many of those things, she also likes climbing and rough housing and SWIMMING, perhaps most of all. One preference indicates nothing about her, really.

My son likes purple. Strange and unacceptable choice, think many people. That must also mean….so many things about him. But, like my daughter, one preference indicates nothing about him, really.

Why is it okay, still, to assume things about my son — and about the parents who are raising him — based on his color preferences. Really?!? I sit here writing this post realizing that I asked many of the same questions over six years ago when I started this blog. Colors are for everyone. Colors mean nothing. Colors are….colors. My mantra. Our mantra. And yet, so very hard for so many folks to wrap their heads around.

Ours is a family created out of love. And we love each and every ounce and preference of our kids, whether “outsiders” see their preferences and interests and habits — and our family as a whole — as normative or not (either way is of no matter to me). To me, the best thing we can do for each other, as a family, and for the world, is to love. To love hard, and deep, and passionately — to love ALL of it.

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…there are so few models for what it means to grow up genderqueer?

Why is it so hard for young people to chart new pathways in the world?

…there are more questions than answers?

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When you live according to the idea that labels are for jars, but most of the world thinks labels are for people? And the labels bring with them boxes? And the boxes are intended to contain you?

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10-year old Q said to me yesterday: “I’ve been working for YEARS to not just see the boy and girl boxes.” 

I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so asked him to explain. “You know, like when I’m looking at people.”

Me: “Oh, so when you’re out in the world, you try to just see the person and not put them into a box?”

Q: “Exactly! I keep thinking about it and thinking about it. And I have myself mostly trained.”

We noted how interesting it is that what he hopes from others — that they just see him as himself, as opposed to someone who fits in a particular gendered box — takes years of self training, even for him. 

Here’s to wishing those boxes were not so deeply ingrained in all of our minds, or that we had as much discipline as Q to work to erase them.

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Thanks to mombian for once again hosting this lovely celebration of our families.

This seemed like the perfect time to write about the amazingly expansive notion of family that often exists within queer communities. We see it in relation to Q, when he talks about our “love family” — those folks we include as family, even if they don’t have a formal/formalized relationship to us. He so easily falls in love with adults, particularly those who are similar to him, gender non-conforming in some way. And we’re happy to add these folks to our love family.

Perhaps luckiest of all is that for the past year or so, a little part of our love family has been under the same roof as us. Dear friends moved into the other apartment in the little two-family house that we rent in, and the result has been a raucous, joy-filled time. We call it, at various times, the unintentional lesbian commune, the queer commune…whatever we call it, there are four moms and three kids around, which is a great ratio. 

Living so close to other queer folks, to folks who know and understand Q and all of his intricacies….well, it’s amazing. There’s a sense of holding my breath that I get, sometimes, in public. Will someone understand Q? Will they judge? Are they judging and I don’t even know it? Home is meant to be a safe place. A place where we are understood, in the deepest way possible. This little community that we have here, part of our love family, provides just that. And the ability to breathe, to breathe deeply, when we are at home — to be known? That is priceless.

ImageQ, after MC’ing the Pride event at his school

 

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As Q gets older, life becomes more complex (of course). I’ve found that it’s become harder to advocate for him as his challenges have become harder to pin down, more subtle, and sometimes more ambiguous. For instance, Q has expressed a feeling of invisibility at school and the sense that folks just “don’t get” him. But it’s subtle. He’s not down and out there at every turn. And many have said he seems happier this year than last. But something isn’t right for him. He has a hard time articulating it (after all, he’s only just 10), and that leaves me having a hard time trying to rearticulate it. Or to make meaning of it. And then, harder still, to try to help others make meaning of all of this. It’s no longer just watching out for my little boy in a dress. With growth comes change, and complexity, and navigating the more complex layers of life with and for Q has been quite something (something of a challenge? something of a heartbreak at times?).

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May 2.5 year old daughter loves pink. And wears it a lot. What does this mean?????

ImageAlso, she’s hilarious. Thought I should mention that.

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I think that what is needed here is a series of confession posts. So, here goes (be gentle, please).

Sometimes I prefer to just drop Q off for swim team practice instead of going in so that *I* don’t see the stares or looks he gets from some other kids, siblings, etc. He still is only conscious of that very occasionally. I, however, am hyper aware. And it makes me SO angry. And, at the same time, I feel SO helpless to do anything about it. I’ve considered asking five year olds if they have a particular question about my kiddo. Perhaps I should. I fear how it would go over…

So, I’m feeling cowardly.

Confession #1. Done. (Now, I will proceed to hide, having just shared this hard truth.)

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I’ve been a stingy blogger lately. Very stingy. In fact, WordPress was kind enough to send me a little summary of stats about my blog at the turn of the year. Three. That’s exactly how many posts I wrote last year. Horrible, I say! I realized my stinginess, promised to write more (out loud, even, to a friend!), but then I didn’t.

I just am not sure what to say. I feel like we’re in a holding pattern and like I just don’t know what to feel or say lately. Q remains awesome. Dressing like a girl. Identifying as a boy. Continuing to confuse many people, but apparently not himself. At the same time, something isn’t right for him. He’s sad, often feeling a bit sick….just off. I’m worried. And most of all, sad that I don’t know how to help him see his way through whatever is happening at the moment. That he’s hurting in some way and I can’t just cuddle him and make it all better.

I know that’s part of growing up. For most kids. For many adults, even. But, as a mom, it’s just hard, and it makes my heart hurt.

So, I’ll try to be around a bit more. Though perhaps sharing…just confusion? We shall see.

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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)

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