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?).
Posts Tagged ‘gender norms’
Posted in expanding gender notions, gender funneling, gender roles, gender stereotypes, stereotypes, Uncategorized, tagged boys and girls, fitting in, gender norms, gender stereotypes, stereotypes on May 5, 2010 | 5 Comments »
At Q’s school, there’s a question on the white board each morning, and kids read it and write a response below. Everyone can then see their response and they usually discuss the variety of experiences, opinions, etc. in those responses.
Today’s question: Do you break boy-girl stereotypes? (spurred on by kids from an older class coming in later today to talk about stereotypes and, I believe, do a survey about them — did I mention I love our school?)
Q’s response on the board? “No.”
My internal response: “What?!?!?!?”
There stood my kid, clad wholly in clothes from the “girl” side of the store. Growing out his hair. Purple shoes. And he said he doesn’t break those stereotypes.
Part of me was shocked, part intrigued, part worried. I’ll admit to worried, because last year he talked about how he was a stereotype breaker all the time. This year, not so much. And this seemed to be the clearest message possible.
Now of course I’m fine with however he wants to be and identify and dress and all that jazz. I just still worry that there’s something he now feels like he has to hide (see my last post). I could be wrong. But what if I’m right?
I think I need some advice and opinions here (even if just to tell me to chill the heck out!).
I came out during college. Since then, I’ve made decisions on an almost daily basis about coming out in various situations. At this point, and in the community I live in, I rarely give it a second thought, but I do give it thought, even if that’s just a split second. What will that parent think when she finds out I’m queer? What will my students think? There’s always a question. I often don’t even care what the answer is, it’s just that I wonder.
With Q, I find myself asking more questions and considering things for longer. I think, in part, it’s because there’s a choice sometimes. Right now, Q’s in an art class. On the first day, when he was certainly wearing either purple or pink, I was sure to introduce him using male pronouns. At pick up this week, his teacher kept referring to him as “her.” I didn’t correct her. And I considered it, numerous times. Q’s still okay without the correcting, which for me is the bottom line. But I still have so many questions:
What will she think when it finally sinks in that Q is a boy?
Will she treat him differently or think differently about him?
What will she think about me? (I know, self-centered. But true.)
Usually I walk away from these situations knowing that I’ve made the right choice regarding coming out about Q’s gender, even if it was just the right choice for that moment in time. Yet I realize that it really is a coming out process each time. And that one really does have to come out over and over and over. And it’s never just simple. Or easy.