Family / Kids / Parenting

He’s Not Your Kid photo (11)

“He’s going to grow up to be gay. Yeah, you’re making him gay and you look gay too.”

I wasn’t there but I can feel the heat of the exchange in my partner’s words. I can feel the stab of hurt in Jetpack’s closed-off face, the internal quality to his attitude that night.

“If he were my kid—” I don’t want to know how she ended that sentence. He’s not your kid. Thank god.

The day before Madison Pride, Jetpack made the mistake of wearing a dress to the park. The teenager that shouted at my family is no villain—she’s just a person who is mimicking the things that have been taught to her. That being gay is bad, and boys wearing dresses are gay. She engaged in her hate-filled tirade in front of a bunch of young kids—who have now been taught that boys wearing dresses are gay, that gay is bad, that kids who are different deserve to be ridiculed, deserve to feel unsafe, deserve to be hurt.

And now my kid is sad, and brimming with anger. I can tell. He’s been irate since then. This will pass—it always does. I hate that I’m getting to understand post-bullying Jetpack.

There was last year’s shoe bullying. He loved—please note my past tense—his Sketchers Twinkletoes. Last year, at camp, one of the kids (completely unnoticed by the counselors) followed him around mocking him for several days in a row. He told us about it in the same breath as telling us he never wanted to go back.

Jetpack goes to kindergarten this year. He’s been going to the same preschool for three years, and all the kids know him and love him, and his dresses, and his nailpolish, and his superhero outfits.

But Jetpack goes to kindergarten this year. And none of his preschool friends are going to be at the same place.

But what if those kids, the ones that watched and learned from their teenage sister, are in his class?

Or other kids that have learned similar hateful ideas?

Back to school. For some kids it means shopping trips for new backpacks and a return to homework. For some kids it means a return to regular breakfast and lunch and desperately needed structure. For some kids it means stepping into a situation that can be scary, harmful, or deadly. For some kids it means going back into the closet, struggling to conform, struggling to go unnoticed or to fit in, struggling for air when words cause as much pain as punches.

I don’t know what kindergarten will bring to Jetpack. I don’t know if the dresses are going into his closet to gather dust and be outgrown, or if they’ll be pulled on and bravely worn to school, or if they will be at-home only. Maybe his school will be proactive and his peers full of love an acceptance.

I’m not holding onto much hope. I’m just glad that Jetpack is ours, and that we can make his home a safe and loving environment no matter what he wears.

If he was your kid, after all, he would be used to the ridicule.


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  1. Heartbreaking. I hope against hope that he finds his safe place and am thankful that despite what the world gives him, he has you and the safe space you create.

  2. I wanted to share this poem with you:

    And also to say that you are good advocates for your son.

  3. I’m so heartbroken to hear that your sweet,loving little boy is experiencing such hostile words and actions! He is such a wonderful being and always brightened my day when he was in my class!

    • Laura, thank you for your kind words and thank you so much for being so good to him. I don’t think he would be nearly the amazing kid he is today without the warmth and care he got at Gan!

  4. This might just be enough to make me homeschool.

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