Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I found a website the other day which deals with some of the same issues I do, so some of you readers may be interested in it.  It's called Adios Barbie.  I haven't had time to peruse it as much as I would like to, but it has some interesting info.  Their most recent post is a video clip of a talk show called New Day NW.  The woman who is featured has a young son (4-years-old now perhaps) who likes to dress up in girl's clothes.  He began enjoying sparkly things when he was 2 and was in pre-school.  She talked to the pre-school teacher and the director of the school as well as to a therapist.  She asked the teacher to make sure no one made fun of her son because she wanted him to be able to express himself fully, no matter what form that took.  On Halloween the boy wanted to dress like Cinderella.  She alerted the school.  The teacher called every adult associated with the school and asked them to please not say anything untoward to the boy.  Several of the "macho" men, janitors, etc., asked if it would be OK if they dressed up as fairies that day.  The teacher said it would be fine as long as they weren't making fun of the boy in doing so.

The mother, Cheryl Kilodavis, wrote a book called My Princess Boy about her son and their experience with him loving to dress up.

On the one hand, I applaud the work she and her husband are doing to provide an accepting environment for her son.  It's high time kids were able to be themselves without being bullied for it.  On the other hand, I found it surprising that she would have made an issue of it whatsoever when the kid was only 2.  In my experience, it is VERY normal for 2-year-old boys to dress up in whatever is at hand, definitely including pretty shiny sparkly things.  I know lots of boys who did that til kindergarten when it became socially maladaptive to do so.  I think that's the age when kids became aware enough to tease others about it.

So perhaps the woman was absolutely right to start early and educate her son's school about acceptance.  Perhaps the boy will feel OK wearing girl's clothes for the rest of his life thanks to her efforts.  Or perhaps they've made such a big deal about it (going on TV, writing a book, alerting so many people NOT to say anything negative) that the kid will identify as someone who likes to wear girl's clothes whether that still fits him or not.  I found myself feeling uncomfortable with the extremes to which they were going.  AND, given the option of his being tormented for it, think it's a good thing they did.

The bullying that has happened lately which has caused so many young people to take their lives is horrible.  It saddens me and troubles me.  I'm moved by the awareness that is growing around it.  It would be amazing if people were able to become gentler and kinder as a result of their growing awareness.  I guess ultimately, Mrs. Kilodavis was just trying to let people know her son has a right to be himself, no matter what guise that takes.  That's a wonderful thing.

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading this, the one thing that struck me was what you pointed out in your next to last paragraph: My one concern was that, perhaps, the kid was getting so much attention from his Mother by doing this that his main motivation might be to keep doing it for attention, rather than stopping when it ceased to interest him. I wonder if he still does this because he gets the message that Mommy likes it or because he's still enjoying it.