I will remind you, however, that “Zoe” is a 7th-friend-from-the-left (essentially background) on the uber-popular British cartoon, Peppa Pig.
Per Ellison’s request, Colton dressed as Peppa’s little brother, “George Pig”.
The two of them were an adorable, zoological sight stumbling down SoHo cobblestones knocking “store-to-store” at the likes of Tiffany’s, BoConcept, Jack Spade and Louis Vuitton.
I’m not kidding. It was absurd. And hilarious. No, the stores didn’t hand out $10 bills or even full-sized candy bars. They handed out the same solo Reese’s and bite-size Snickers as the Williams and the Ericksons.
But I digress.
When Ellison told us he wanted to be Zoe Zebra, I froze a little bit. Not because he pronounced it “zeh-bra” (see previous posting) but because we thought, “Oh, God. Our kid wants to be a girl character for Halloween.”
(Now, I realize this entire posting comes from my stupid insecurities. As juvenile and unenlightened as they are, I still have them. So thank you, blog-readers…all eight of you…for bearing with me as my mute therapists.)
I thought: If our kid is a female character for Halloween, what percentage of our friends and acquaintances will say variations on the following:
“Well of COURSE a child of gay daddies is gonna be a femme for Halloween.”
Or “I wonder where he got THAT interest?”
Or “Oh, are you grooming him to be feminine?”
And never mind Facebook “friends” with different social views who might say, “Duh. This is what you get when fags raise kids: more sissies.”
Never mind the fact that Zoe Zebra is perfectly gender-neutral, to my eye. She’s a zebra in a purple shirt. There’s nothing feminine about her, minus the name.
And never mind the fact that my friends are open-minded people who would never scoff at a child gender-bending for Halloween.
And never mind the fact that neither my partner nor I ever dress like women (except when paid handsomely by Broadway producers…I’m the one in green/blue pants…and that one time in college when I dressed “ironically” as “Baby Spice” along with my other three male roommates who dressed “ironically” as the other Spice Girls. We had a choreographed dance.)
Again: I digress.
I had this internal debate about Ellison’s zebra. And it all stupidly came down to “What will other people think?”
I know. I know. As I once heard a drag queen lip sync to a song I swear I’d never heard up to that moment: “Let It Go“.
But it’s hard NOT to think about when you’re an unconventional family trying to protect your kids from self-consciousness or hurt or embarrassment. (Right. Like all parents.)
So, obviously, I knew I needn’t make it an issue. He wanted to be Zoe Zebra. Great. How could we dissuade him from doing so? And more important: why would we? It isn’t 1979. And who cares what anyone thinks?
And then, my 3-year-old son obliterated my issues. His elation upon opening the package with the costume could only have been greater if Thomas the Train, himself, had delivered for Amazon. I no longer cared if he was Superman or a ballerina. His explosive joy was all that mattered.
Later, I thought, “I might be making something out of nothing. He probably doesn’t associate gender with Zoe.”
When he took a costumed test run the night before Halloween, I took out the purple t-shirt I’d found to finish the costume and said, “Alright, here’s Zoe’s t-shirt!”
“It’s not a t-shirt!” Ellison stated. “It’s Zoe’s dress!”
Oh. Well, so much for that. He’s Zoe Zebra. With a dress.
And I was thrilled with him.
We can deal with identity issues, later. When they’re really issues.
If they’re issues.
I’ll do my best to see that my issues aren’t his.
Right now, he’s just having fun.
May I be so lucky.