What’s going to happen to my kid?
We have just seen the horrific tragedy of Amanda Todd (more here and here.). My kid’s circumstances are entirely different. Undoubtedly. But I worry that in the long run, her choices may cause her as much challenge and grief.
I have a kid, Kid #2, who is an uber-tomboy. I love how much of an individual she is. But I recognize that as she gets older, it is causing her more and more challenges. And this is ostensibly a pretty shy kid, until she gets to know you.
She has chosen to cut her hair in a Mohawk for 2 or 3 years now, and been dying it for the past year, a different colour each time.
She’s worn nothing but boy’s clothing, ever, since she was in grade 1. She’s in grade 5 this year. Not a single stitch of girl’s clothing. Not underwear, not bathing suits. Nothing.
I love my kid. She has
100 no, 150% support from her dad, her stepmom, her sisters, and me when it comes to all of these choices. She is who she is, and we fully support that.
My fear is that there are some challenging roads ahead for her.
I get asked often, “Do you think she’ll end up being a lesbian?” My first answer is, “I have no idea, and I couldn’t possibly care less. She has full support from her family, wherever that road leads.” All of this is true.
Some people are brave enough to ask, “Do you think there are gender identity issues?” My response to that is also, “if there are, she has full support, and she knows it, in both her Dad’s house and mine. Doesn’t matter to us. I just want for her whatever will make her happy.”
That’s the God’s honest truth.
I’ve talked to her a little about it, and really, she’s too young still to know where she’s at with any of it. And that’s completely ok.
Between her dad and stepmom’s friends, and my own friends, our kids have plenty of exposure to gay and queer people, male and female, as well as transgendered people. They know from us that all of it is totally normal. They are probably among the most educated and comfortable kids in the LGBTQIA realm I’ve seen. So, there are no issues there.
When my heart hurts though, is when she comes home from school and tells me that she was trying to go to the girls’ washroom, and kids (that she didn’t know, obviously) in there told her that she was in the wrong bathroom, that the boys’ bathroom was next door. And that when she said, “but I’m a girl,” they argued with her. And my shy little girl had to argue with strangers that she had a right to pee in the girls’ washroom.
I get that everyone assumes she is a boy because of how she looks. It’s sometimes uncomfortable for her, but I do understand it. What I don’t get is people arguing with her when she tells them she’s not one.
It made my heart hurt even more when she told me exactly the same thing had happened, the same conversation/argument almost verbatim with an adult, a janitor at the school.
Or when her dad told me he’d had to argue with a cashier at a fast food restaurant to let her into the girls washroom, because the cashier didn’t believe her father either.
I know she could make life easier on herself by making different choices about her appearance. But I won’t force that on her. She feels that those choice most accurately represent who she feels she is as a person, and I feel my job as a parent is to support my kid in learning to express herself and feel confident in herself, not conform to what keeps everyone else in their comfort zone. My responsibility, first and foremost is to my kid.
We have tons of friends who are totally supportive of her. Adore her. The rest of our families – grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., all absolutely have her back. Her teachers, school counselors, and principal are all amazing. She has a village, and it is very big, and very strong.
It’s the strangers I worry about.
September rolled around and she had to face convincing a new class of kids that she was actually a girl. Kimd of intimidating, huh? She spent 2 weeks home sick.
And my heart really broke on Friday when she got home from the Halloween Dance. Mostly, she had a really good time. But she felt sad because no boys asked her to dance. She felt sad because it would have looked like 2 boys were dancing together if they had. And she felt awkward because – more than once – girls had asked her to dance, and she’d said no. I’m not sure she’d even really explained to them why. But she had no interest in dancing with girls. She wanted to dance with boys.
Imagine being 10, wanting the boys to ask you to dance, and instead, being mistaken for one of them, being asked to dance by the girls.
This kid is very mature in her observations, being able to see the awkwardness – her words, not mine – that would come because it would look like 2 boys were dancing together if she danced with a boy, as far as the other kids were concerned. I did say how she chooses to present herself appearance-wise is always her choice, and if she’s worried about that, she can choose differently if she wants…or not.
At school she doesn’t fit in with the girls much at all. She doesn’t quite fit in with the boys – closer, but still not a perfect fit. She has 2 male friends, but there are challenges with each – one is a grade different, and one has behavioral issues of his own to contend with as well. So many days, she comes home and tells me she spent recess or lunch alone.
She’s not being bullied by the other kids.
But she’s not being included either. Sometimes she’s being specifically disincluded, without being given a reason why. That’s not quite bullying, but it’s certainly inching closer.
I get it. My kid looks different from everyone else. Different from what the other kids expect. It’s out of their comfort zone.
How do I make sure my kid grows up happy and healthy, knowing she is well-loved, and doesn’t become the target of bullies?
Simply because of how she cuts her hair and the clothes she wears….