Family / Parenting

Gender Creativity and Marriage: An Ally Perspective

 

005Christi Wampler lives in a household of men and one female cat with extra toes in Knoxville, TN. She blogs at DomesticDisturbia.com, basically as a form of free therapy for her and her readers. She writes about her family, weight loss, how to fail at all things Pinterest and anything else that strikes her fancy. She’s been featured as a columnist at various newspapers over the years, and has been published at AimingLow.com, Jezebel’s In the Powder Roomand Thought Catalog.


I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve often been told I’m a great mom.

Actually, I do mean to brag, and typically, when someone told me I was a great mom, it wasn’t because they were watching my sons sit quietly at a restaurant while waiting for their salads to appear. It was usually because my oldest son wore dresses, jewelry, scarves and fancy high heels all the time, and I never batted an eye.

declancape-1“You are so great, just letting him be him!” they would say. Or “I think it’s just great that you are letting him express himself!”

The truth? I’m lazy and will allow my sons to do almost anything if it means I don’t have to play hide and seek. Wearing dresses while parading around the yard meant one less battle with my wild, energetic and very willful child. You want to wear a tutu to swing? Sure, I don’t care. I’ll be on the porch with coffee and Candy Crush, thanks.

But I also knew that if this was a “thing,” as in a gender identity issue, we would have a tough road to hoe. I would never stop my kids from being who they are or even ask them to conform. I listened to how my son talked about himself and made sure he knew that it’s perfectly fine for boys to wear dresses or play with dolls or like the color pink, while also explaining that not everyone would understand. I told him, if kids questioned his choice of a skirt and Crocs (a legitimate question–Crocs don’t go with ruffles, in my opinion), that he just might be the first boy they ever knew who liked dresses, so he would have to be their teacher.

And then I’d ever-so-slightly pat myself on the back for being SO progressive and SO tolerant. Because my ego, like my laziness, knows no bounds.

As first grade began, my son’s interest in dresses waned, but we still try to teach lessons of tolerance and acceptance in our home. So imagine my surprise the other night when at the dinner table, my son brought up marriage. He was telling me about the little first-grade girl he would like to marry (Common Core is SO advanced, right?) and I asked him what he thought were some reasons to marry someone. I was hoping for a “Kids Say the Darndest Things” moment, expecting him to say you marry someone because they make good breakfast or always let you catch them in Tag. Instead, he said something about how his friend was nice, and she was a girl, and since he’s a boy, they should get married.

As I always do when the subject of marriage comes up, I said “Or if they were a nice boy.” His head whipped around and his brown eyes got big and he said, “BOYS CAN’T MARRY BOYS! GIRLS CAN’T MARRY GIRLS! THAT’S AGAINST THE RULES!”

RECORD SCRATCH

How could this be happening? Has he heard NOTHING I’ve said? All the times he’s played house and I’ve yelled out from the other room “You can both be daddies! That’s great!” or “If you can’t find Batman, Wonder Woman can marry Barbie!” It’s like he wasn’t even listening. It’s almost like this heteronormative, media-driven world we live in has MORE impact than my voice!

Needless to say, I slightly panicked and said “Boys can marry boys. Girls can marry girls. Or a boy and a girl can marry. You know this! You know our friends J and T are married, and they are two girls, right?” He squinted at me and said “Won’t they get in trouble for that?” as if they had been accused of eating an extra cookie when Mom wasn’t looking.

I said “No, of course not,” because I didn’t feel like explaining how the Federal Court System works at this particular moment.

“Oh, ok. Well, I still want to marry Belle. She has pretty hair,” he said, as he ran out of the room to destroy another part of my house.

Good hair is important to me, as well. So maybe he’s listening after all.

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9 Comments

  1. My two boys have pretty much stopped wearing dresses as well. I remember when my older one turned to me during one of those, “you know, boys can marry boys too” discussions (he has two moms) and said, patiently, “Yes, I know, and I know you married a girl, but I think I’m going to marry a girl.”

  2. Vikki Reich says:

    My son never wore dresses but once said, “I’m worried you won’t approve if I marry a girl.” I was devastated because of course I don’t care who he marries which is the whole point but I also couldn’t help but think of how things had flipped from my own childhood. Maybe we are all just worried our parents won’t accept us.

  3. That he thinks they can get in trouble because he’s obviously heard that it’s illegal or against the law, and in his kidbrain you get in trouble if you break the law or do something illegal, is just sad. Dear Gay Marriage opponents, who is warping who’s mind?

    • He’s never heard that that I know of. He’s more of the age that things are black and white. No one we know or associate with is against gay marriage at all, so no one is telling him that. He is brought up in a heteronormative world with heterosexual parents and while we have gay friends that he knows well, he currently doesn’t have any friends with gay parents. I think he knows what he knows based on his limited, 6-year-old world view, and outside of that, you are “breaking the rules.” Yes, I hate the idea of spreading hate to our children, but in this case, I think it’s just the limited world view of a child. 🙂

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