Thursday, November 4, 2010

Addressing Adult Bullying

This piece has been making its way around the Internet.  It's well worth reading.  The mom's blog is http://nerdyapplebottom.com

My Son is Gay.

Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

I have gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something more in-depth about my sweet boy and his choice of Halloween costume. Or more specifically, the reactions to it. I figure if I’m still irked by it a few days later, I may as well go ahead and post my thoughts.
Here are the facts that lead up to my rant:
  1. My son is 5 and goes to a church preschool.
  2. He has loved Scooby Doo since developing the ability and attention span to sit still long enough to watch it.
  3. Halloween is a holiday and its main focus is wearing a costume.
  4. My son’s school had the kids dress up, do a little parade, and then change out of costumes for the rest of the party.
  5. Boo’s best friend is a little girl
  6. Boo has an older sister
  7. Boo spends most of his time with me.
  8. I am a woman.
  9. I am Boo’s mother, not you.
So a few weeks before Halloween, Boo decides he wants to be Daphne from Scooby Doo, along with his best friend E. He had dressed as Scooby a couple of years ago.  I was hesitant to make the purchase, not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds. After requesting a couple of more times, I said sure and placed the order. He flipped out when it arrived. It was perfect.

Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?

And then the big day arrives. We get dressed up. We drop Squirt at his preschool and head over to his. Boo doesn’t want to get out of the car. He’s afraid of what people will say and do to him. I convince him to go inside. He halts at the door. He’s visibly nervous. I chalk it up to him being a bit of a worrier in general. Seriously, WHO WOULD MAKE FUN OF A CHILD IN A  COSTUME ON HALLOWEEN? So he walks in. And there were several friends of mine that knew what he was wearing that smiled and waved and gave him high-fives. We walk down the hall to where his classroom is.

And that’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. And I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?” And Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock  and dismay.

And then Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have ‘allowed’ this and thank God it wasn’t next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and ‘forbidden’ it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.

My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.
Another mom pointed out that high schools often have Spirit Days where girls dress like boys and vice versa. I mentioned Powderpuff Games where football players dress like cheerleaders and vice versa. Or every frat boy ever in college (Mom A said that her husband was a frat boy and NEVER dressed like a woman.)

But here’s the point, it is none of your damn business.

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one.
But it also was heartbreaking to me that my sweet, kind-hearted five year old was right to be worried. He knew that there were people like A, B, and C. And he, at 5, was concerned about how they would perceive him and what would happen to him.

Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’  Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.

It is obvious that I neither abuse nor neglect my children. They are not perfect, but they are learning how to navigate this big, and sometimes cruel, world. I hate that my son had to learn this lesson while standing in front of allegedly Christian women. I hate that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud. I hate that ‘pink’ is still called a girl color and that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.

And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.
I hope I am doing that.

And my little man worked that costume like no other. He rocked that wig, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Election Post Mortem


By now, everyone has read that the Republican Party and its Tea Bagging friends are going to take over the world.  It's amazing to me how the media forgets that politics in this country-- especially recent politics -- can change with the bat of an eye.  The last three elections (2006, 2008, 2010) have been pretty much brought with them a change in Congressional and Presidential Power.

I certainly don't want to play Pollyanna here, but I think we do need to remember that not all was lost, and some things were gained:

Massachusetts became Massachusetts again:  I'm beginning to think we should thank Scott Brown for waking the Democrats up in time for 2010, because every single statewide and congressional seat went Democratic.  Even races where the Republicans fielded strong candidates, they lost.  And Deval Patrick, champion of gay marriage, won by a larger margin than expected.

Most incumbent gay marriage supporters weren't punished for their support:  Lynch was re-elected Governor of New Hampshire by a comfortable margin.  He had signed the gay marriage law during his term.  California elected Jerry Brown over Meg Whitman.  As Attorney General, Brown had refused to defend Proposition 8 in the courts while Meg Whitman supported it.  The same goes for Barbara Boxer, who vowed to fight on for same sex marriage in her acceptance speech.

Remember 1994? I sure do.  Hands down that election was one of the most depressing ones for me.  The late and great Ann Richards was ousted as Governor of Texas.   Mario Cuomo was ousted as Governor of New York. On Tuesday his son Andrew Cuomo -- passionate supporter of gay marriage -- won the Governorship by a landslide.  In 1994, Democrats lost both houses of Congress.  This year, we held onto the Senate.  That's important.  In 1994, the Democrats lost 8 senate seats; in 2010, they lost 6.  In 1994, Democrats lost 54 seats; in 2010, they lost 60 (a difference of only 6).  Bill Clinton went on to easily beat Bob Dole in 1996.

• Many of the far, far right candidates lost:  Christine O'Donnell, Sharon Engle, Carl Paladino, and Carly Fiorina.

• So, yes.  This was not a good night for progressives.  But let's keep it in perspective.