Maybe, even though we didn’t talk about it at the time, he has taken away some big lessons through his experiments with gender expression. He knows what’s right for him, and he knows that other kids aren’t always right.
Most importantly, he knows that I love him, the real him, whatever that means on any given day.
I can’t say I blame him: one is a brightly colored piece of clothing, the other is a sparkly, twirly, multi-textured, ruffle-y concoction. Around the house, he always wore “dresses” — old t-shirts of mine long enough to be dresses on his small frame. Now, at 5, he still wears my shirts and nightgowns as pajamas regardless of how girly or frilly they are.A few nerve-wracking times, he wore his favorite dress out of the house.(I reject the whole idea of gendered toys, but the world does not always agree with me on this.) He loved cars and ballet, princesses and superheroes, baby dolls and trains.When he wanted to play dress-up, he often chose the princess dresses over the construction worker vest.He was his happy, sensitive, funny, enthusiastic self. I’ve realized I can’t always be there to protect him, and while the dress thing was somewhat unique to him, that realization about motherhood is universal. We all have times where more than feeling our children’s pain, we feel the pain of things that haven’t even happened yet. One time after I painted his fingernails blue for him (he chose it because blue is a “boy’s color”), he told a little boy at the playground that some boys like their nails painted. Another time, he told a child that his favorite color was pink.
We're well over a year since the day he wore a dress to school, and I’m confident I made the right decision. We feel the pain of things that might happen or the guilt that we might not have done the right thing. That kid said what almost every kid says: “Eww, that’s a girl color.” color.”“Yeah,” another kid piped up. It’s fine.”My son is in kindergarten now, and while he hasn’t wanted to wear a dress in a long time, I don’t doubt that he will one day discover another way he is painfully different from his peers (as we all do), but I think that maybe he’ll be OK.
He might have gotten a couple looks from big kids, but my son was happily oblivious.
I wrote back, confessing what a nervous wreck I was.
I wondered: And a large part of me wanted to ask him; I wanted to talk it to death. So instead of laying it all out, I hoped these things would reveal themselves in time. But while checking out books from the library and sipping a vanilla milk at our coffee shop. So I prepared him for what people might say, just in case. ” He was fine with it, telling me, “I’ll just tell them I’m a boy.” Things that were so fraught and difficult for me were so simple for him. But then there came a day when he decided to wear a dress to preschool. It was a white maternity blouse with lace trim that looked like an old-fashioned wedding gown when he wore it. I compromised: he wore the dress, but it was chilly out, so he had to wear some pants underneath.
I talked it out with my partner, who heard my fears, questions, and concerns, and calmly reminded me that there are no hard-and-fast rules we Letting him out of the house in a dress set a precedent: dresses were now something he wore. I worried how other people would react, and how that, in turn, would affect him. “If you wear a dress,” I said, “it’s possible people are going to wonder if you are a girl or a boy. And, luckily, the shirt was slightly sheer so he had to wear an undershirt.
I told him he might change his mind about wearing it, because people might react, and that was fine.