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Archive for May, 2008

OK, OK, OK….

So, today the boy decided to wear a dress to school. Needless to say, I was hit smack in the face with all the fears that arose yesterday. What will people think? I’ll know them this time around. Will they look at him or me funny? How will I know if they’re thinking it’s strange? Will he be okay?

In spite of that internal monologue, we set off to school in the dress. Q’s teacher embraced him with open arms and proclaimed her love for the dress. No one said a word. Were there a few looks? I’m not certain. I’m paranoid, so I thought there were, but who really knows, right? At least this taught me about my own level of paranoia.

My saddest move of the day, though, was bringing shorts for him to change into before an after-school class. I just didn’t know how that other teacher would respond. Perhaps that community is not as safe as the school community. I secretly hoped he’d be sweltering in the dress, long sleeves, and tights. So I offered the shorts. He was so glad I had them! “Let’s take off the long sleeves and the tights, Mom. Then put on the dress with the shorts underneath. That’s how P wore her shorts today.” Stymied! At that moment, I had to do two things.

1. Get behind his choice 100%

2. Deal with my own shame, embarrassment, fear, whatever we want to call it.

I think I did well with #1. And #2 is the reason for this whole blog, it seems. It is so hard for me to get my head around the fact that I have fear or shame or embarrassment or a whole other host of undesirable emotions around Q’s desire to do things his own way/dress like a girl/whatever. Truly hard. I’ve come out, struggled with that, dealt with others’ negative feelings about my queerness, dealt with plenty an uncomfortable situation where I’ve chosen to go against the tide. Yet here I struggle. I guess it’s normal, because the strength of the collective societal tide as it relates to gender roles is SO VERY STRONG. Yet I’m ashamed that I have to struggle. So I’m working through that here. Thanks to your ears for listening.

Back to our afternoon, though…I think the crowning glory, as I grappled with my internal monologue was our entrance into this other activity (left intentionally vague). Q’s teacher greeted him with great enthusiasm. Didn’t give a second look to the dress. No comment. No sideways glance. No questioning look to me. OK, OK, OK, I thought. So my worry is huge, yet there seems to be a generous amount of safety and open-mindedness in our little world here. But I do know that I worry for a reason, because beyond our little world, there’s a great big one. The source of that great big tide of societal norms that want to box in my boy.

…More to come on the sign I’ve considered posting on my chest when walking next to the dear boy in a dress, those who’ve already come out in solidarity, and why I actually want folks to read this blog, think about it, and pass it on to others.

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So, I think the fact that I started this blog yesterday nudged the boy to wear a dress to the Children’s Museum today (totally unconsciously — he has no idea about this place). Rarely has he worn a dress in public. We’re not opposed to it, but we don’t push it much. More on the internal struggles in a moment. So, he wakes me up this morning, adorned in a dress. As we get ready to leave, I ask nonchalantly what we’ll wear to the museum. “My dress!” Of course. We add some tights to the mix (a favorite around here), and head off.

On the way, I asked him what he wanted me to do if someone refers to him as a girl or says “she,” or any such thing. This is usually my question when he heads out in an outfit that codes particularly as “girly.” He told me not to correct them. Then that he likes it when people make that mistake. I wondered aloud why that was. “I don’t know, I just like it.”

So, as for the internal conflict. I had no problem with this boy wearing a dress out. I’m glad he knows what he wants, that we provide him access to it, and that he can choose to wear things that make him happy. No troubles for me at the museum. Mostly we were in places where there were few other kids. No instances occurred where I even considered correcting someone about his gender. As we left, I thought I saw someone we knew. That was when it hit me. Even though most of our friends embrace our boy and his style, rarely is he out in a dress. That might be harder for some to swallow. Or really, it might be harder for me to swallow — is it something I have to explain? Is it something I have to justify? If I say nothing, do I seem really strange? Too permissive? Deep down I don’t really care about the answers to those questions, but I must admit that on some level I do. Perhaps it’s me worrying that, for now, I might take the flak in order to divert it from the boy but that it might some time come his way. I’m not sure, but there’s the truth about the matter.

So I guess, while this blog is very much about journeying through life with a boy who pushes boundaries (on ALL fronts), it’s also about my own journey of figuring out how I negotiate my role in this whole thing.

Finally, a caveat. Occasionally I worry that folks think we might be trying to turn our boy into a girl. As lesbian parents, I could see such accusations coming our way. We are definitely NOT trying to do that. We love this boy with all our hearts. But, a big part of that love for us is making the whole world available to him. Letting him explore his passions without limiting them just because they may stretch beyond the “blue aisles” at Toys R Us. So, know that this isn’t a blog about trying to turn a boy into a girl. At all. Not one bit.

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Just thought I should post a thanks to paperdollsforboys for her genius in helping me name this blog. Since “fairy boy” really would not fly well, and it’s about all I could think of because of this boy’s obsession with all things fairy-related, she helped me piece it together.

And it really is a smashing name since what we’re talking about here is moving beyond the labels that folks just want to smack right onto you the moment your born, or you are seen on an ultrasound, whenever. So here’s to bucking the labels that caused us to receive shirts with trucks, monsters, and baseballs on them (not that we don’t like numbers 1 and 3, it’s just not what one should ASSUME our boy likes).

Thanks, T.

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I’ve been searching around for a real purpose to my blogging, and it finally struck me the other night. As I cuddled up with my lovely 5 year old boy, who nuzzled his head right into the space between chin and shoulder, I thought about him, clothed in his lovely lavender blanket sleeper, having just read a book about fairies. He’s of a different ilk, this boy. He walks to the beat of his own drummer. He sees the world through different eyes. I think he’s very free, in many ways. He chooses what he likes freely, he follows his passions freely. And luckily he’s found a way to develop these passions free (or in spite of) many of the societal norms thrust (HARD) upon boys. Although he refused to like pink for 8 months and cried his eyes out after finally admitting that he was told that pink is only for girls but he “really loves it,” he is mostly steadfast and unburdened by his love of purple, headbands, fairies, and such.

I marvel at this fact often. While we’ve tried to raise him without the boundaries put on boys (or girls for that matter) because of their gender, we live in a world that screams out those boundaries at every turn. So they are hard to avoid. So I marvel at his ability to avoid them or to stand so firmly in the face of them. And that’s what this blog is about — the considerations of his journey. How we’ve gotten here, where he’s going, the bumps, messages, and judgments that the world offers.

There’s much I have to figure out about raising this boy confidently and lovingly and with an independence to continue to follow his dreams and passions, whatever they might be.

So that’s why I’m here. And I hope you’ll join me, because this surely is not a journey to embark upon alone. It takes many strong and steadfast partners, for sure. And please add your wisdom at every turn. I rely on it.

The boy, at home in his glory

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