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Dresses. They’re all good.

I feel like I owe everyone an update on school and dresses and my own state of self-inflicted insanity.

My oldest has worn dresses/skirts/tutus every single day to first grade, and big surprise – it’s a complete non-issue. Getting over that first day was a hurdle, y’all. But just for my partner and me. My kid wasn’t nervous or self-conscious at all. He’s thrived, clothing has been a non-issue, he doesn’t seem to have been twirling down hallways or distracted by his flowing clothing (which was a concern for us) and he hardly talks about it.

He pushes my buttons, that’s for sure. Occasionally he’s put together unbearable combinations of long skirt with a tutu over it and sparkly sweater vest over a tie-dyed t-shirt. Talk about looking like a drunk, homeless Dolly Parton rustling through a box of discarded Goodwill hand-me-downs. The couple of times this has happened and he asks me “can I wear this?” and I have the wherewithal to stop my eye roll and say, “Sure,” he changes and tones it all down. Even he knows it’s too much.

The first day of school there was no issue he wanted to share with us. The next morning I walked with him, hand-in-hand, and said, “Did anyone say you had a nice tutu?”

“One boy said in the bathroom, ‘Don’t call him a girl! Don’t call him a girl! He’s a boy who likes to wear dresses.’”

I bristled. I couldn’t glean the context and I immediately got defensive that this was a bad situation. But I asked, “How’d that make you feel?”

“Good. He was my friend.”

(Oh. Gavin: check your defenses. I need to tell myself that one hundred times/day.)

Apparently some kid might’ve said “boys can’t wear dresses,” at another time on day one, because my kid went on to say, “And another girl said, ‘don’t say that. Anyone can wear whatever they want.’”

“Wow,” I said. “I like that girl.”

“Me, too. She’s my new friend.”

Sigh.

Previous to the start of school, our son asked at bedtime, “Which bathroom do I use?”

I was not prepared for that, though I should’ve been. In first grade, my son will be on the school’s 3rd floor with gender-segregated bathrooms. I completely dodged that question because I had no real answer. But by day two of school, he’d solved his own problem.

One breakfast, he mischieviously (and elatedly) told me, “My teacher let me take the girls’ bathroom pass, today.”

“Oh. How did that happen?”

“I asked to go potty and she said, ‘do you want the boys’ pass or the girls’ pass?’ So I got the girls’ pass.”

We’re entering a whole new world.

On week two, our teacher requested a conference, “Not that anything is wrong. All’s been fine. I just to make sure we’re on the same page.”

During our teacher conference, the teacher basically asked, “Do you want me to correct your son when the class confuses pronouns? Because they basically think he’s a girl, right now.”

My partner and I looked at each other. This would’ve elicited an immediate negative response a year ago – probably from both of us. But this time, we shrugged.

Whaddyagonnado?

We talked about the bathroom issue and the teacher told me, “Your son has asserted what makes him feel comfortable and he asked to go to the kindergarten floor where the bathrooms aren’t segregated. In that bathroom, there’s one stall not marked for girls or boys. He uses that one.”

I started to cry.

This process is often frustrating. I’m sick of my son’s entire focus being sparkles, glitter, pink, Barbie, princess, twirly, tiaras. (But I’d be annoyed with that if I had a daughter, too. It’s just so all-consuming.)

But I’m relieved, grateful, proud and thrilled that my kiddo knows how to take care of himself and assert his desires and is grown up enough to say, “I’m just gonna be my awesome self and sold my own problems.”

That’s definitely what he’s doing – being his awesome self.

Phew.

See? I told you there was never anything to worry about.

(Eye roll.)

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15 Comments

  1. Chris main says

    I too am grateful and proud that this beautiful child has the courage and smarts to
    be himself and to persevere when his choices create new dilemmas for him. So many
    children would respond to these difficulties by hiding their essential selves from the world in the belief that
    they are not good people….or just too “weird” for self expression. What a shame….when that happens.
    I’m in awe of the parents who are raising him with love, patience, open minds,
    and limits. In my generation, this child would have been crushed in spirit
    and mind before he even hit school age. Now days, thank God, there is
    greater understanding and acceptance of our of vast individual differences.
    Love to the whole family!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, as always, for reading, Chris. yeah – seriously, this kid couldn’t be more secure and happy in himself. It’s mesmerizing. I know it’s still early, we are ONLY in 1st grade, and there will always be haters out there. But thus far, he’s living the life he’s meant to (and wants to) live.

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  2. Marni says

    Thank you so much for sharing this journey you are on. I appreciate it, not just as a parent of a 2 and 7 year old, but as a middle school teacher!

    Like

    • It thrills me to know more teachers are reading this, like you, Marni. 🙂 You’re the ones inspiring and teaching the parents as much as the kids. xo

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  3. I cried reading this. I can only imagine how difficult it is raising a child period. Much less one in NYC. And then to top it off with one that has his own beautiful ideas of what life should look like. But this gives me hope. It gives me a little bit of peace the some of the next generation is being raised by people like you guys. I love that you share. And I feel a bit more inspired. Thank you.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading, Amanda! Parenting really is all about unexpected challenges. We had no idea this would be our path. And we really are learning way more about ourselves than our kiddo. He’s perfectly fine with who he is. We’re the ones needing to pull our heads out of the dark ages. (Or just out of the 80’s!) xoxo

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  4. Thomas Shoemaker says

    Wow. I read your posts as if I were someone in Victorian times reading postcards from a far-off exotic land. A new world.

    Like

  5. raylanc says

    This is amazing. My husband and I are about to have a baby, and I hope I handle these twists and turns as well as you. Also, I’m so impressed by the school, teacher and other students. This is what gives me hope given the current state of the world.

    Like

    • Thanks, very much, for commenting. My kiddo’s beautiful self-expression is the perfect example of parenting being a path of unexpected challenges. I never imagined this being a preoccupation of ours, let alone an all-encompassing obsession. And it’s also the perfect example of your kid teaching you more than you teach them. This really is mostly OUR issue, not our child’s. Because he’s perfectly fine. And yes, thank goodness we are in the community we are. Very lucky. Good luck to you! It’s a wonderful (agonizing, exhausting, surprising, fulfilling, frustrating) path you’re soon walking.

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  6. Clay Morton says

    Right on, man. You guys are great, it’s pioneering parents like you guys that will, hopefully, turn this into a non issue someday. Keep it up.

    Like

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