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Posts Tagged ‘clothing’

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’ve had a few identity conversations lately with Q. Not of the “what’s your identity” type, as he doesn’t seem to have many questions around that, but more of the type that gets into the grey areas of how he plays out his preferences. Like about his hair and his clothing choices. It’s interesting to notice how ensconced he is in his staunch view that choices he makes are because he LIKES things. And that clothes should be for KIDS, not for boys or girls. And on and on down that line of reasoning. I think he’s so settled in this place, for now, that he told me today that thinking about “boys liking girl things” is sort of outside of the domain of his thought. Today I was chatting with him about The Princess Boy. And, in many ways, Q’s response was, to one extent or the other, “What’s all the hullabaloo. He’s a kid and that’s what he likes.” I’m intrigued by this all, particularly as there are still parts of who Q is that make life quite hard for him at times. Our biggest struggle of late involves locker rooms and the pain that he’s experienced there…for both being mistaken for a girl and for being questioned about his fashion choices.

 

Choices, mind you — as in, “choosing what I like to wear.” Not “choosing to wear girls’ clothes.” I appreciate that there’s a nuanced distinction for Q. And that he can voice it to a certain extent. I don’t think the world is yet that nuanced, unfortunately, but there are many paving the way. Thank goodness.

So, identity. It’s an intriguing thing.

 

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Thanks for all the congratulatory wishes on W’s arrival. More on that in days and weeks to come, I’m sure.

A few of you asked if Q is excited for the start of school, and the answer is a resounding YES! He is a school lover. In spite of the extra social pressures he feels there and the insipid need to monitor himself, he loves his school, his teachers, his friends, and, most importantly, the routine of it (he is a seven-year old, after all!). So, luckily, he’s excited.

We’ve been talking a lot about back-to-school. For us, we talk about non-traditional things, though. It’s not the type of pencils to buy, who he hopes to sit next to, or what he’ll learn in science but rather how he might respond to a kid who teases him about his newly-achieved ponytail. Or how he might respond to other children who, we learned over the summer, persisted in making him feel unsafe and uncomfortable (not just for what he chose to wear, mind you).

This year, though, I’m trying to push him a bit in these conversations. We’re talking a lot about power. To this point, Q has talked about ignoring kids who tease him, and I think this is his general M.O. But, the teasing has, in the past year, gotten the upper hand. An example or two: He was teased about wearing clips in his hair, ignored the teasing in the moment, but stopped wearing the clips. He was teased about wearing a bandana, again ignored it in the moment, but then ceased wearing said bandana and anything else pink, for that matter.

So this year, I added the layer of power to our conversation. That the teasing and teaser end up with the power if Q stops doing/wearing the thing he’s teased about. And I think he got it. At least got it on a new level. He declared that if he gets teased for his ponytail, he’ll “wear it every day for at least a week!” In my mind, that’s progress. Standing up for himself in a new way.

So, as we inch towards school, it’s with excitement, some new tools of communication and self-expression, and always with a bit of trepidation about what lies ahead. Thanks to those of you looking out for Q on this part of his journey. As always, I’ll keep you updated!

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Gender markers, that is. I’m continually fascinated by how folks read gender markers on Q. For example, this weekend, he was wearing jeans and a turquoise shirt (not too “loud” turquoise). He declared it “a blue day” — nothing about gender, just really about style. We were walking around our liberal town and he was on his scooter. His helmet, by the way, is VERY boyish — sort of monstery, in fact (who knows HOW we ended up with that style…). We passed a 3 year old in a stroller who asked her parents, “Is that a boy or a girl?” First, so intriguing that that’s the question she asked. I know that young kiddos are all about organizing their world by what’s like them and what’s not, but still…fascinating. Her mom replied, “It’s a girl.” The only clear reason I can point to for the response was the tip of purple bandana peeking out below Q’s helmet. That’s it. Just a glimpse of that marker and for sure it’s a girl in there.

Fascinating.

So fascinating, in fact, that it really makes me want to know more about how people read faces, hair, etc, as I know we as humans are “supposed” to be able to discern sex/gender by faces alone. Not sure I agree with that premise at all.

Earlier this weekend, at cello class, Q had a substitute teacher who referred to him as “she.” I stuck by our agreement not to correct, but later, when explaining what solo Q was practicing, referred to him as he. Clearly, I’m his parent. In spite of this, the teacher kept referring to Q as “she” through the rest of the class. Q was wearing brown shorts and an orange shirt. And boyish sneakers (though they do have lots of silver on them!). His shorts have the slightest gather at the pockets, which I think is the clue that they come from the “girls’” side of the aisle. I think that the gender markers that the teacher picked up on, whatever they might be, were even stronger than my referring to my own kiddo as a boy.

Again, fascinating. Clearly, we are pulled to organize our world based on how we experience our world. And we experience so much through seeing. And what we see is filtered through our stereotypes, our prior experiences, etc. It’s so interesting how much is revealed when we hear folks talk about what they see through those lenses. Suddenly, the invisible filters in our minds become highly visible. And strong. So strong that they can withstand “correction” even by the parent of a child whose gender might be in question.

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Of course we know what that pink schoolbag means...

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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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Q has been in an interesting phase of playing with his identity lately. I love watching this develop, as I think it’s all about the development of 5 and 6 year olds, the ego, considering oneself in relation to others, etc.

Here’s how it’s played out: Q is now very conscious, when he’s choosing his clothing, about whether he’d like to be perceived as a boy or a girl that day. If he wants to dress as a girl, he will often choose a skirt, but most definitely a sparkly headband and other acoutrements. While much  of his other clothing still has others perceive him as a girl (think string tank tops), he feels that he’s seen as a boy in the rest of his things. Most importantly, though, to him, he won’t mix and match. This is mainly in the area of accessories. Lately Q has wanted to grow his hair longer. We’ve been letting it grow a bit, but it’s quite shaggy right now. In our family, we wear thick, stretchy “yoga headbands” to keep unruly hair out of our faces. But Q will only wear those (and other headbands), if he’s dressing like a girl and wanting to be perceived as a girl.

I’m intrigued by this move to dressing in order to be perceived in a certain way. It’s moving a bit away/beyond/to a different space than just dressing because certain clothes strike Q’s fancy. I like hearing Q talk about these kinds of choices because in doing so, he really shows how much he has his finger on the pulse of gendered stereotypes and how he’ll be perceived in certain clothing. An astute boy, he is.

The yoga headband

The yoga headband

The hat

The hat

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We were talking today about going clothes shopping.

Q: “Oh! I LOVE clothes shopping!”

Me: “Do you have something in mind that you’re looking for?”

Q (considers for a bit): “Well, a few more ties. Kids’ ties. (pause) And dresses and skirts.”

How cool is that? Ties and dresses and skirts. He’s definitely got a penchant for the fancy, that one.

For a glimpse of the currently beloved tie (always worn with velvet pants), have a look at this video. A bit grainy, but nevertheless….he’s in the back row. (And yes, this is a shameless opportunity to show my pride at his cello-ing).

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