Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale of Acceptance...?

I read an interesting article in the November 15th issue of People. It's called 'A Tale of Acceptance'.

To sum it up, it's about a boy who likes to dress up like a princess. Oh yes, the bigger the tutu the happier the boy.  And his parents ROCK.  After some discussion, they decided to let the boy do what he wants.  Not to push him.  The Mom even wrote a book called My Princess Boy in attempts to quell the backlash of him expressing himself.  It's getting around the school system, thank goodness.

You see, I'm a big believer in Sass. I think if more people had it, the world would be a better place. Sass is something that makes you be who you are with force. You say things, even if it's a no go. You dance even if you are the only one that thinks your singing is danceable (happens to me a lot).  And you wear a freakin' big ass, glittery tutu if it makes you feel good.

I'd like to think kids are not cruel. I know we all say they are but, ideally, they don't come that way. They are like rottweilers. They look a little scary and have the tendency to be little bitches.  But they only really turn if you raise/train them that way. A rottie raised in a good home is as sweet as a golden, maybe a tad bit more protective... normally.

Not shockingly, there has been quite a bit of debate about this book and the parents' position on the subject. From Online radio blogger Lashaun Turner, the 46-year-old mother of three grown children (including two boys) in Riverside, Calif., was taken aback by Kilodavis tracing Dyson's fashion sense to age 2. "I mean it's just crazy. Your 2-year-old is picking out pink colors and wanting to wear pink dresses and so therefore you start buying him dresses? I mean a 2-year-old has not a clue as to whether they're boy, girl, fruit, vegetable or a rock."

So what would you do?  In the time of the ultra-sensitive parenting movement, do you smash his dreams of pink and ribbons to smithereens?  Or is it not smashing at all, only guidance towards social norm?

Personally, I cut my oldest off from nail polish at 3 years old. Dude, we live in Brazil. It was attracting attention at the park that was upsetting and mean from parents and kids alike. Amazing how parents are so quick to judge.  There are plenty of kids at the park with whom I'd like to loudly say, 'Wow, that kids is a douche and has small man's complex at 6!' but I hold my tongue. I feel that is the thin line that separates kids and adults.

And you know what, I was made fun of A LOT in school. I was even in our middle school slam book.  I was voted flattest girl in school.  I'd like to thank my genes. Without them, I never could have been so flat chested.  The vests I insisted on wearing really didn't help the situation.  I was so before my time. 

My mother never tried to help me be more accepted.  I like her thank her for that regularly. She was very, you are who you are and if they are your friends, they will accept you.

That's awesome. It really is. Sadly, in the 7th great, I apparently had no friends. 

At the same time, look at yourself.  We all have had our moments and we all have our things. Some of you are really into feet, you know, in a kind of scary way.  Some of you like to stand right next to the only other person in the elevator.  Many of you use food items in a very non-edible way.  We're weird people. Every single one of us. Just think about it.

And I know we try to "protect" our kids but maybe, sometimes, we raise them when they just need to be left to their own devices.

In an ideal world, home should be a shelter away from the bullshit.  Check your roof, does it have bullshit leaks? 

At the same time, the world is a tough place.  So what would you do?  Would you guide your son towards overalls and boots?  Would you limit sparkles to the house?  Would you bedazzle his basketball shorts if that's what made him happy?  What are your thoughts on the discussion?

And a secondary question: What makes you weird? Oh come on, I know you have something!


  1. Rachel,

    Gil and I watched this movie a few years ago and we were impressed that neither of us as adult gay men understood the real meaning or differences between "gender identity" and "sexual identity" until we watched this 1997 AWESOME movie, you need to find it and rent it, it is truly amazing,

    It is called "my life in pink", it is the story of Ludovic, a little girl that was born in the body of a little boy.
    The story helped me understand the gender issue much better.
    I just watched Cheer talking about her daughter on David Letterman and she said the signs were always there since her daughter was a little girl, she just didn't know how to interpret what was happening.
    I really don't know what I would do if I had a child born in the wrong gender body! It is a tough one, for sure I would protect my child from the world, now the real question is; Do you let your child flourish into what he or she really is freely with the risk of being attacked in school by other children or teach her to be herself in the protection of the home, where she or he cannot be attacked?
    Perhaps take your child to a Karate school as a toddler and teach him or her to be an infant ninja and protect herself from the other little devils? God! who knows!
    This is a tough one! I'd have to be in the situation and play by ear...step by step, with trial and error...


  2. From what the Mom says Ray, her son doesn't have a gender issue. He's just a boy who likes to dress up like a princess.

  3. Oops, sure, I went too far off... :)
    I hear you.
    Schools around New England, specially Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut have special training for teachers and school employees to help promote acceptance, that means acceptance in general, of kids who have gay parents, kids who have single parents, kids who are adopted, kids who have gender issues and I have been to such training sessions, it includes kids who want to dress differently, including boys in ballerina outfits...or boys who plays with dolls etc...
    Acceptance should be promoted in schools and the trainings here started as suggestion from parents and then spread out to many schools and years later it became official schools agenda.


  4. This is crazy that you just wrote about this because I recently asked my boyfriend that if he had a son who wanted to play with a barbie, would he let him? And he was appauled. No matter what I argued, he said "No way in hell!"
    It makes me realized that being raised in Southern California and being raised in Brazil, you grow up with some very different views of gender roles. It's such a hard idea to wrap your head around because I think we have created gender roles the same way we have chosen which words are "bad" words, and the appropriate ways to greet people...I say, let your freak flag fly, people are always going to find something to make fun of you for.

  5. You'll be happy to know that at your and my kids' school I got to witness in the 'art room' a teacher offering my daughter the prettiest white princess dress, she ditched it for some humongus clown pants and a Goofy cap, and a boy immediately came to get the dress, followed by another boy who went for the Sleeping Beauty one. The teachers helped all the kids into the costumes they liked as if nothing and they all sang and danced merrily. Not sure if that lasts beyond Grupo I, but that day I was happy for my little clown to be at that school!

  6. Nancy - how does your boyfriend feel about letting a girl child play with trucks? Or to be a futebol star? Homophobia usually comes down harder on the boys, unfortunately.

    Rachel - Celebrating your child's choices seems easy - it's the witnessing the condemnation from the world around them that would be impossible to bear. What a tough situation!

    I'm pro-tutu and anti-bullying, but the world is not so easy to navigate...

    My advice: Move to San Francisco! (That's what I did, and I never regretted it.)

  7. Very proud of the school! Somehow I think they'd let it go on :)

  8. Bullying breaks my heart. My oldest was 2.5 and he was being followed around by bigger boys at the park as they pointed and laughed at his painted toes. He called them his spiderman toes. They were blue and red. Thankfully he didn't get it but I decided that the trend needed to stop. We could do other Spiderman things. I was really surprised by how forward and opening hostile the kids were to such a little guy just because he did something a little different. And shocker, their parents were no where to be found.

  9. My MIL and family were sitting around... my cousin who was 5 put on some heels and started dancing. My MIL proceeded to tell my cousin about 5 times that he was ugly. What 5 year old doesn't play with heels-- boy or girl? Come one dress-up? Everyone loves dress-up.

    I think that gender rules are too strict in the U.S., being third wave I beleive whatever floats your boat is fine. As long as people are not getting hurt. You want to be a guy and were makeup-cool, transgender third sex- great! Dude as long as you don't force that on anyone, I'm cool.

    In Brazil it is so very difficult with all the rules. I feel like I can't even keep them straigh striaght, lucky I have been a woman for 28 years and know most of the rules by now. Some Brazilian men are so lazy, that I seriousily have to restrain myself from leaving or saying something (mostly family members).

    My problem is I don't believe in complete assimulation (sometimes even partial). Sometimes leading to a lonely life indeed. But that's ok, my real friends are quality and other edgy people. Ricardo living in the U.S. has helped him to become more open.

    True story: My brother had pink hair for 4 years and the only thing that ever happened to him was a black eye by some stupid jock. His life isn't upside down from having pink hair (and he also wore my dresses). And no he's not gay. Sometimes I wished he was, with all the horrible girlfriends he finds (he is totally a dick to the good ones).

  10. One of my biggest fears in life is someone being mean to my little girl. I know it's going to happen, and it's going to break my heart and piss me off at the same time.

    She's only 2.5 right now and can't stand up for herself yet. The 2 things I'd like to instill in her are self-confidence and manners/discipline.

    I love it when she plays with cars, trucks and the like. Just want her to be balanced and be a kid that explores, discovers, and learns on her own.

    But sooner or later she will enter the age when kids can be mean, and I'm dreading it. I don't know what I'll do yet...

  11. I was present for a conversation last night that went something like this `how would you handle the situation that your little boy, now a toddler`decides to support another soccer team?´ insert shock and horror from one group and acceptance from another. Then the godfather in his late 60´s advocating acceptance says come on it is his choice and what if he grows up to be gay..? `insert a pandamonium of horror from the 40 something and shock on the part of the 60 something that the 40 something doctor could be so..well..closed. The thing that amused me most was how revealing the conversation was, how i could not tell which would be more devestating to the parent-sexual identity or soccer team alegiance, and that once again age and bias do not always go together. It was also interesting to see the neutral stance everyone took on the perimeter. Their ability to keep everyone happy and somehow not take a stand was clearly a skill mastered over a lifetime. I felt compelled to say a lot of things but in the end just whispered to my husband...shall we ask what they think of Dilma? Sex soccer and salgadinhos...a night to remember!

  12. i don't think any kid can be protected from living at the periphery of what is normative at one time or another. maybe it'll be bad acne as a teen, maybe the ears will stick out a little too far from the head, maybe puberty will come too early or too late, maybe they'll have the wrong taste in music, a job or a hobby to be teased about. peripheral experience is a human experience, meaning-- no one can escape it, and on the positive side-- many have been tbrough it and have the wisdom and strength to take with them. even the kids who tease will eventually experience it.
    i used to teach preschool and allowed the boys to dress up in the pretty princess dresses if they wanted to, knowing full well that outside of my classroom if the kid continued to do these things, more dire consequences could result.
    being a kid is a time for playing. for some reason bigger kids feel that they are more adult when they look down on younger kids' behaviour as babyish, ignorant, or stupid, or not playing by society's rules. damn the adults who teach them that this kind of heirarchy exists! if only we could get back to the childlike innocence of trying things out because they seem fun-- not because they have any symbolic meaning or significance to one's identity or to how they fit into society!
    something wierd about me-- i have dressed up in drag on two occassions and loved the hell out of it. i have often wanted to do it on a regular basis. does that make me a lesbian? no. i just enjoy wearing a moustache is all. :)