Howdy folks…it’s been a while. Luckily, we were enjoying a bit of family r and r. Much needed. Much enjoyed. Now, very much back into the swing of things.
On our travels, which took us, with great luck, to the Caribbean, I found myself watching in a new way to see what folks, both local and tourists alike, noticed about my family, what they said about Q, etc. Much of the week, spent in a bathing suit, Q was referred to as a boy. And yet I found myself intrigued to watch the social dynamics that arose amongst some of the kiddos around the pool. While other boys were drawn to each other by that mystical magnet that draws kids together somehow, Q was not similarly pulled into the rough and tumble games, to the ball tossing, etc. He didn’t show any pull, nor did they offer up their so-called magnet to him. His magnet, however, seemed to pull the girls towards him — coming up and just starting to chat with him. He readily entered into play with them, chatting away. This dynamic is intriguing. Not because it’s abnormal. Not because I think the only “natural” thing is for kids to play with others of the same gender/sex. But mostly because it was the girls who sought out Q. And it doesn’t only happen on vacations. Q’s best friend is a girl, and I think this has always been the case. I think there’s an energy to him that draws him to girls and that draws them to him (I’m sure someone imagining he’s a teenager might be chuckling mightily here…). And it’s that energy that interests me. And I think that’s the same thing that mystifies others.
But getting down to the whole protecting myself and protecting others; the real point of this post. As we awaited our airplane for the return flight, Q and I were in the bathroom. True to form, he wore his favorite, The String Tanktop. In the bathroom, a woman heard him humming a lullaby and said happily, “Oh, she’s the one humming! Now I’ll be relaxed and able to sleep on the plane.” I smiled and chuckled, but didn’t correct her about Q’s gender (as per our frequent conversations/check-ins with him about this).
But then I set to reflecting on this interaction. It is easy enough for me not to correct others. They don’t know that they are wrong, and it’s simple to continue that way. So I thought at first, “Ah yes, the magnanimous person that I am, I’m protecting those who mistake Q for a girl from the embarrassment of revealing their mistake” (as this mistake does seem to cause SUCH embarrassment in the general public for some reason). Then, since our wait for the plane was Oh So Long, I began to peel off the layers of that interaction. And when I did, I had to face the truth that in not correcting others, I’m also protecting myself. The same old punchline, in a way. If I don’t correct a mistake about Q’s gender, then I don’t have to address any questions about why I “let” him wear the clothes he wears, etc. And I really don’t want to be confronted with any comments about how he needs to look like a boy, or anything of that ilk. And I know that many folks don’t harbor such comments. But some do. And I’ve heard them. So, while I feel justified in protecting myself to a certain extent, it also means I don’t have to go out on a limb to expose myself. And in exposing myself, that’s where I usually have the chance to broaden minds, to enlarge the territory that boys are seen to inhabit. So there is a cost to the protection. And also a benefit. So, a quandary. Of course.