Friday, 23 March 2018

Sometimes I Wish....

I have a problem that's been troubling me lately, and I wanted to get some thoughts on it.

You see, my daughter desperately wants to join a karate class. And I'm fine with that...but the thing is, I know she won't be content with just joining the class....

I know she'll want to wear a ninja suit like she's seen people wear on TV and I just know that people will have an issue with that...

No, wait...that wouldn't bother anybody...lets try again.

My daughter wants to join the scouts, but I just know she'll want to wear the same uniform that the boys there wear and I know that people will have a problem with that.

No wait...that's ok too. Hmm. Ok Hang on...another try.

My daughter wants to join a football club, and I'm fine with it, but I just know she'll want to wear the football kit like the other kids do and I know that people will have a problem with that.

Hmmm, nope still fine. All of these things are fine.

Except I don't have a daughter.

I have a son.

And he wants to join a ballet class. And of course, I'm fine with that.

But I just know he'll want to wear a tutu like the other kids there do, and I KNOW that people WILL have a problem with that.

There we go....NOW you get it. NOW it makes sense. NOW it doesn't sound fine.

Nothing has changed about the's still just a kid wanting to do something they enjoy, and wear what they want to wear....but the fact that its now a boy wanting to wear something feminine, suddenly its so very wrong. So very unacceptable.

I could talk forever about WHY I think this is but that's not the point of this post (but if you want a very quick summary, this line from The Cement Garden sums it up "Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading")

The point of this post is not how society needs to change its views (although it does), or the fact that my son should have the right to wear what he wants to wear wherever he wants to wear it (which he should.)

No...the reason I'm writing this post is because I want to admit something. Something I'm worried to admit.

Something I'm scared and almost ashamed to say.

Because as the mum who fought and won against Disneyland Paris for my sons right to dress up as a Princess and enjoy the same Princess experiences afforded to little girls...the mum who is always so vocal about defending his right to be himself....I should be the last person to say this.

But here it is.

Sometimes, I wish this wasn't my fight.

And yes I know how weak that is of me to say...because what do I know? There are people in the world who have no choice but to fight against these social prejudices every single day of their lives, who face far greater battles than I can even imagine. Who have to go up against it every single day, with no option not to. Who fight far bigger fights and injustices.

I don't even know I'm born...I know that.

I'm also not saying that I wish my son didn't have so much love for traditionally feminine things or that I wish he was different than he is in any way....I wouldn't change a single thing about him for all of the money in the world.

 I LOVE his unique little personality, I LOVE his flair for fashion and his keen eye for it, I LOVE his eccentric hip swaying and his puckered lip selfies, I LOVE his sass....he is a fabulous force to be reckoned with and he's not even 3 years old! GO HIM! I hope he never changes.

I'm not saying that I don't want him to grow up to be any certain way - he could grow up to be gay, straight, trans, or a flying purple people eater....I don't care. I will love and support him, and be his biggest cheerleader no matter what. (Ok maybe not the people eating part...)

And if someone offered me a magic wand and gave me the chance to influence what he grows up to be in the future....what his sexuality is...I wouldn't do it. I'd let him be exactly what he is, whatever that may be.

But what I'm saying is...sometimes, lately, I doubt my ability to fight for him.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing things right for him. Am I doing enough? Am I fighting things too much? Where is the line?! How much is the right amount?!

Sometimes I worry that I'm getting it all wrong, that I just don't have the fight in me to battle against these things every time they come up.

And sometimes, I hate feeling that he needs to be fought for.

I want to live in a world where he can just be and do and wear whatever he wants to at all times, without the need for me to always have my guard up incase somebody says something.

I hate that where my other two sons and their more "traditional" interests are concerned, there's so little thought and effort required to parent them...If they want to do something, I can call and book them in to a class and that's that. No further thought required.

But where Noah is gets much more complicated. Because what he wants is often not socially acceptable or socially considered to be "The norm".

What he wants usually requires some kind of conversation or persuasion to make it happen....much like it did at Disneyland last year.

What he wants usually requires a thick skin - from me at the moment because he's so little and unaware.

It involves trying to ignore people's ignorant comments or harsh stares....against my instinct of wanting to fight against them, concerned not to let him know that there's an issue...wanting him to be allowed to stay in his blissful ignorance of the world and its opinions while he's still so little.

I hate that I have to have those awkward conversations in stores when he's carrying around a new Elsa nightdress I've said yes to, only for a little old lady to stop us and says "Isn't he a boy?! What do you want a night dress for?!" ("Well because they don't make Elsa pyjamas for boys actually Gladys, and who's he going to offend in bed?! Now off you fuck!")

I hate that I so often have to weigh up whether or not to correct people who refer him as "she" or "her" when they see him in his Elsa costume or holding one of his dollies....weighing up whether it's better to let it slide and not embarrass the well meaning person who passed comment on "how pretty she is" or whether it's going to somehow damage Noah if I choose not to correct them.

And I hate that something as innocent and seemingly simple as signing him up to a baby ballet class has become something that is such a cause of worry.

Of course he can join the class...nobody has a problem with boys doing ballet at all these days, which is great!

 But I know him....and I know that when he goes along and sees all of the little girls in their pretty fluffy tutus, I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that he will say to me "Mum I want to wear one of those too!"

And that's where the dilemma arises...what am I supposed to do then?

The people who jumped on my Disneyland post and emailed me to tell me what a god awful excuse for a mother I am for allowing my son to "be a cross dresser" will of course tell me to just "sodding well tell him straight! Tutus are for girls, you can't wear one coz you're a boy!"

But I can't do that because I don't have the ability to remove some of my brain cells and teleport myself 70 years back in time to when that was something any good parent would even consider saying to her child.

So that's out.

Which leaves me with two options....

1) Let him wear a tutu.

Which seems simple enough.

My instinct is just to buy him a damn tutu...what's the problem right?! Its just a tutu! I don't care if he wears it, so why should anybody else?!

But some people inevitably will.

Maybe we'll be lucky and choose a class where nobody minds or at least nobody says anything...but maybe we won't. And there's no way to tell.

So far I've only had the nerve to message one ballet class about it and they were not very receptive to the idea of a boy wearing a tutu if he wants to, so I've yet to find the confidence to broach the subject with any other local dance schools.

I could just take him along to one of course and say nothing, MAYBE he won't even ask to wear one (he will me, I know he will...this boy is NOT going to miss the opportunity for some pink fluffiness!) ... but if (when) he does, I don't want to run the risk of someone confronting me about it in front of him...

and to be honest, the thought of another parent confronting me about it at all terrifies me.

I'm not someone who does well with conflict, believe it or not. I don't like to ruffle feathers.

I worry that I would crumble, that I'd cry, that I'd be a weak and pathetic role model for Noah to look up to.

I worry that I'm not strong enough to stand up and defend his right to be and wear whatever he wants to.

It's one thing to do it over emails and blog comments and social media...but face to face? I don't know how i'd handle it.

I know first hand just how many bigoted people are out there raising children...I came across plenty of fathers who told me that my son shouldn't be allowed to do that Princess experience incase their daughters saw him and asked questions they didn't want to answer. I'm sure there are some of those people in our local dance schools too.

So that leaves option 2) Just don't let him join a ballet class at all.

Because maybe it's just better to keep him oblivious to these attitudes and problems for as long as possible?

Because maybe it's easier all round if he just keeps on dancing and twirling and pirouetting at home.

But if that doesn't drive home the fact that I'm a cop out as a parent, I don't know what does.

And this is what I want to admit today.

People think I'm a tiger mum, that I'm ready and willing to take on the world to fight for Noah's right to do and be whatever he wants....and I WANT to be that mum.

And you know what, I will be that mum. Somehow. I'll find it inside me somehow, I'll make it happen somehow...we'll figure it out. He WILL go to that class somehow, and he'll wear what he wants to when he's there.

But the truth is, sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it feels like I'm not up to the job.

Sometimes it feels like I'm failing him....I can't change the world for him as much as I wish I could.

Sometimes I just feel the need to do more, to do better, to BE stronger.

Sometimes I wish that I wasn't so weak.

The truth is....I don't wish that Noah was somebody else. Not ever.

But I wish that I was.

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