The Doc is in

Pasragad Branch photo (6)

Leo, my three year old, has finally settled on a Halloween costume – and he is SO excited about it.  He is going to be his favorite TV character: Doc McStuffins. Great, right? Not only is Doc McStuffins a strong, smart, and kind role model (and a girl of color as the main character in a TV show!) – but the show as a whole is challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers.  Her mom is a physician, her dad has tea parties with her, her friends speak kindly to each other and the music is catchy.  Overall, I approve of him watching and enjoying this show and wasn’t one bit surprised when he announced he wanted to be Doc McStuffins for Halloween.

We’ve never discouraged his love of pink or limited imaginative play for reasons related to gender (or species for that matter, when he pretends to be a dinosaur or a fish), but his choice has made me think about how much harder it is for boys to cross the gender binary line at Halloween than it is for girls.  It’s more and more likely that girls will feel they can be anything they want to be for Halloween.  Granted, the costume may have a ridiculously short skirt or glittery tutu gratuitously thrown in to make sure no one gets the wrong idea, but generally, girls can choose costumes that may have fallen into the “boy” category a decade ago without much pushback.

Now that my boy has his heart set on dressing as a girl character, I can’t help but think of the reactions Nerdy Apple faced when her son dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo.  I read their story back when Leo was a baby and was so impressed with her love and strength, but was reading much more from the perspective of a member of the LGBT community rather than as a parent.  A few other stories have popped up since then – fierce moms who have supported their children vocally and unapologetically – and each one has touched me, but seem even more relevant now.

I don’t think we will face much adversity in our close-knit, progressive neighborhood, but I did find myself wondering if people might think that jb (my partner) and I were the ones to choose his costume.  That people might think we were making some kind of statement through our child.  I surprised myself when I asked him if he was sure he wanted to wear the headband he’d chosen from his sister’s collection.  Who am I?

By the luck of perfect timing, this past weekend I attended Salon LGBTQ and was fortunate enough to hear a panel that had four of the incredible moms (Amelia Blogger: Huffington Post, Nerdy Apple, Lori Duron: Raising My Rainbow, and Kelly Byrom:  It’s a Bold Life) who have stood by their kids.  The presentation moved me to tears.  These moms are all so different, but united in their fierce love for their children.  They each had this raw and primal parenting drive to protect and support their kids – and it was overwhelmingly beautiful.

The whole experience reminded me of the kind of parent I want to be.  I want to parent from a place of love, not fear.  I want to support my kids in their choices.  I want my kids’ best interests to be the focus of my guidance, not others’ reactions or discomfort.  Most importantly, I want to work to change what is wrong out in the world rather than changing or stifling the natural beauty of my kids.

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  1. The morning after Halloween, I’m dying to know, Sandra: How’d it go?!

    Our son bends gender expectations as well, and he is utterly disinterested in performing hyper masculinity. None of the boy-marketed superheroes do a damn thing for him, because so far there isn’t a Bob Fosse superhero or Henri Matisse in a cape. He already did “pirate” last year, the only option he could see for a glam guy. (The year previous: a bumblebee in a tutu playing a guitar; year before, a princess in a pink tulle gown w/ a star wand.)

    So this year? High concept: green paint.

  2. It went great! No one batted an eye – except that some people weren’t familiar with the character because they hadn’t seen the show. He got lots of compliments. He had one moment of remorse when he saw a bunch of super hero costumes. He does love performing hyper masculinity – balanced with some ballet. And he had a moment of costume remorse and wished he’d been a super hero. He was sad for a few minutes, then got back to collecting candy (priorities!) – but when we ran into several other kids dressed as Doc he got excited about his costume again and regained the same pride he initially had in his outfit. That was the only bump, and it wasn’t (directly) related to gender – and we certainly didn’t hear any disparaging remarks. Thanks for asking.

    PS – your son sounds like the coolest kid ever.

  3. love love love this! So glad it was a good time too. Happiness!

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