Love fairy, Berkeley, CA.
The boy’s Halloween outfit, as worn to preschool yesterday. Worth rendering in color, even if it is the weekend and I usually like to go B&W on ’em. (Full-body preview shot here.)
He picked this fairy godmother outfit himself, when out & about with his Ma. He was reportedly entranced the moment he saw it, and insisted they get it. He had initially intended to be a poodle or perhaps a monkey, but all those plans went flying out the window when this sparkly twinkly number spoke to him from the 5-and-under aisle.
I added in the t-shirt, what with it being a chilly day yesterday. You know, for Northern California standards. It was the only clean white one we had, but I also like that it bore an additional, subliminal (and I mean really subliminal: none of his preschool chums reads Latin yet) message.
In the morning before he went to school, he said he was worried someone might say he looked silly. We asked: “Do you still want to wear the outfit?” He answered: “Yes. But I’m worried someone will say I can’t.”
We followed up with the usual questions, clarifying whether his worries were based on speculation or past experience. No one has said he looked “silly” yet, he admitted. Most of his cohort is comfortable with who he is, now that they’ve come to know him; every once in a while someone disputes that you can be a boy and wear a skirt or a dress; he comes back with the simple factoid that may one day be true beyond his personal experience and that of his bretheren: you can too be a boy and wear a skirt or a dress. It doesn’t mean you’re not a boy. It means you’re a boy who likes to wear a skirt or a dress. And so on. He’s got this down at 3.75 years old.
Still and all, I felt like shadowing him like a Secret Service Agent all day. I mean, he’s a little 35 pound pink ball of everything masculinity both needs and fears/reviles. To a pack of big dogs, he’s a Chihuahua snack. But not everyone is a big dog, or pretends to be. Plus at preschool my Secret Services weren’t necessary. Most everyone was unpurturbed: this was merely a slightly showier variation on a familiar theme. Several parents smiled sweetly at me; a mom or two may have even swooned (he really is a dreamboat, and it’s a nice color on him).
When later we went to pick up his big sister at the elementary school, as we entered the playground I scooped him in my arms and carried him through a phalanx of fourth graders. This based on some repeat snickerers and pointers, who weren’t among this bunch, but like I’m going to take a chance. Love may conquer all, but it’s a slow conquer, and I’m sure not letting my boy’s psyche be roughed up before it has to be.
Does it have to be? No. Will it be? As a genderqueer, lesbian parent who knows a bit about the costs and benefits of transgressing social boundaries, and as only a wannabe optimist, I just don’t want to answer the question. Anyhow, one day I won’t be able to scoop him in my arms. And one day he may actually want to stride through that phalanx (pick a phalanx; any phalanx) all by himself. As have countless parents before me, I hope, when the time comes, that I have the strength to let him go. As have countless parents before me, I realize that at some point, finally, I don’t have a choice.