(I'm blogging my ass off today. Been made to think about this topic by the wonderful mind tickler over at Pacing the Panic Room - http://pacingthepanicroom.blogspot.com/ -- which I recommend everyone read because he and his beautiful family are incredible.)
My nephew, when he was about three, loved to spin. He'd walk out into the middle of the room, throw his arms out and his head back, and just go. It was a fun thing to watch, this little person doing something pointless and silly because he liked the way it felt when the air rushed by his skin and his brain scrambled into a dizzy mess.
One day his dad was walking by and happened to glance into the living room where his son was whirling around. He laughed and said, "Boy, quit it. You look like a ballerina."
The boy stopped hard, planting both feet, and swayed for a moment while his eyes crossed and uncrossed wildly. He drew himself up, pointed his finger at the ceiling and hollered, "Maybe I WANNA BE A BALLERINA!"
My brother-in-law stopped short and stared at his boy, the light of his life, this tiny person that was such a strong little individual. He looked at me, then back at the boy. Finally, he said, "Well, okay. It's not like there's anything wrong with that. You go ahead and spin, buddy." and continued on his way. I loved him infinitely more in that moment than I ever had before, and that's saying a lot because my BIL is one of my favorite people alive. He hadn't meant what he's said about the ballerina as a bad thing, and it hurt him that it might have come off that way. He just wanted his boy to be happy, have fun, do what he liked to do.
Also, just FYI: The boy's favorite color was then and is still pink, and while he's 10 now and a little bit more shy about that he still will answer honestly when you ask, because we've always told him that colors don't belong to boys or girls, they're for everyone.
That's what I want. I want my kid to be a ballerina if he wants to. I want him to be into sports (*cringe*) if he wants to. I want him to stick his nose into a book and wander through a field with his head in the clouds if that's the person that he is. Whoever he is, I want him to know it's okay. The idea of anyone ever making him feel bad for being himself is a scary, infuriating thing. The boy, my nephew, is made to feel bad for liking pink. He's made to feel like he should hide it, like it's different and that different is bad, and that makes me want to hurt people in a way they are not able to recover from.
I just want my child to be healthy and happy. I just want him to be what and whomever he is. Why isn't that enough for people? Why do we as a society push things on our children and the children of others? Why do we feel the need to enforce these preassigned ideas about the way others should live and act? They're only children. Why should they ever be made to feel that being who they are is wrong?
See, I worry about this because we live in a rural state. A really rural state, full of football and rodeo and farming. (My sister and her brood live on the far end, where there is not so much of any of this at all. I do not.) I'm not from here and have never taken part in any of these things, nor could I ever imagine it. I'm not going to play an organized sport any more than I'm going to strap myself to the back of a livestock animal that doesn't want me there. That shit's crazy and while I'm crazy, I'm not THAT KIND of crazy.
However... I somehow managed to get my boots knocked off and then up by a man that comes from a ranching family. He was involved heavily in sports and rodeo and ranching for most of his formative years, and in fact did not stop any of those things until he was out of college. Not only did this man knock my boots (Quite thoroughly, might I mention. Yes indeed.) but managed to be a perfectly sweet, wonderful, incredible person whom I fell terribly in love with and have no intention of being away from any time soon.
The part of all of this that concerns me is that I'm pretty sure this kid's going to be showered in footballs and crap like that when he's born, and I don't like that. It skeeves me out, makes my shoulders bunch up, makes me uncomfortable to the point of complete aggravation because, shit, he's just a BABY. You don't know what he's going to like -- HE doesn't know what he's going to like. You know what new borns like? Tits and blankets and naps and crying. That's what they like. None of that has anything to do with anything except comfort and survival, and already they're being suffocated by "gender appropriate" toys and clothing and... Fuck, I'd just thought I'd buy some neutral onesies and call it good.
Come to find out that around these parts, it's got to have TRUCKS or BALLS or BEARS on it if it's for a boy. It's got to be BLUE and RED and as your child moves around in the clothing, it has to play a song who's lyrics consist of I'M A BOY, I AM A BOY BOY BOY, I HAVE A TINY PENIS IN MY PANTS to the tune of a marching band so that everyone's attention is drawn to the fact that holy crap, that child must be male. Thank Christ Jesus that he's got that big blue bear on his t-shirt, or we'd all have been at a terrible loss and society as we know it might have collapsed.
And that's just when they're tiny! When they're bigger, it's unheard of that a boy isn't involved in sports or Scouts, learning and doing Traditional Boy Things, what the fuck.
The only thing this makes me grateful for is that we're not (probably) having a girl. I couldn't stand the pink and the sparkles and the princess baby shit that people would flood our home with. I wouldn't be able to stomach it. Then as girls around here grow up, they learn that acting stupid gets you more attention from the boys (Does anyone else need a bag to throw up in?) and cheer leading will make you popular, and that being mean to other girls is okay because they obviously must deserve it for not looking like you and doing what you do. All of it is enough to make me climb a clock tower with a rifle, and I don't know if I could stand the constant battle against it.
At least with the boy I can just tell people to get their dirty damn balls out of my house and away from my baby. I think I'll be talking to people a lot about their balls.
(By the way: I'm startled to realize that this seems to be turning into a parenting blog. I did not expect that, but this pregnancy is really making me think of things in a different light, and think about things I didn't spend much time on before. Evolution, I guess?)