Being a Gender Hypocrite

I’m sitting, watching both my kids play soccer in summer camp, right now.

I can’t believe my gender-fluid kid is playing soccer. I mean, last week, when my younger one took his lesson, the older was impressed there was a girl in his class. So this week? Older was mildly curious.

And the next week? Suddenly he’s playing.

This is amazing. And stupefying. He insists he doesn’t want to play soccer, but he jumped in with only mild prodding by me just five minutes ago.

I want to expose my kids to everything. Being well-rounded makes life so much richer. I loved being a college athlete and artist and academic, simultaneously.

I’ve often been conflicted about sports because our culture is already so ridiculously Type-A, competition-obsessed, but I think playing a game and exercise are interests to cultivate.

Plus, if you at least know the rules and have basic skills in a sport, life’s just easier and more fun.

And less frustrating when you’re stuck at a high school retreat for the student council and everyone wants to play soccer and you don’t even know what “off-sides” means so you’re embarrassed that, in addition to having no skill, you don’t even know the basic rules.

Did I digress?

It’s good to get to know how to work with a team and sweat to achieve collective goals, as a team.

Before becoming a dad, I unequivocally stated that my kids will each play a sport, an instrument, and focus on some sort of art.

Don’t I have that all planned neatly?

But what’s the point? I mean, why should I be pushing my kid to be well-rounded? I hated competitive sports until college.

I hatedsports as a kid. Baseball was boring. I did cartwheels during soccer. And I resented everyone saying to me, “You’re tall. You should be good at basketball.”

Well, I’m NOT! And I HATE it, okaaaaaay?

In high school I was a good competitive swimmer, probably just because of my size. Same for crew team in college. But college was different. I wanted to be fit and I loved the rowing lunatics. (They might as well be actors. So.) I found my way, eventually.

But as a kid, I hated sports. It was assumed that, as a boy, I should like them.

And now, as a father, I’m fully putting the same expectations on my own kids.

I’m a monster.

Seriously. Why am I so excited for my older kid to show a modicum of interest in soccer (mind you, for the day. It’s clear he’s reticent.)

Well-rounded appreciation. Check.

But wait, am I going to be insist the younger kid (he of more sports-interest) take ballet class? Or tap class?

Will I grit my teeth behind his back when he refuses to be artsy? Or when he actually tries his artistic hand and is mortifyingly maladroit?

Why am I so relieved that my gender-fluid kid will at least trysome soccer? Is this a latent attempt by me to save his masculinity?

Why does that matter? Gavin: aren’t you trying to teach your kids that masculinity is bullshit and gender is a social construct?


Am I being a hypocrite?

Absolutely. I AMexercising a double-standard. A conventional, society-based, archaic double-standard.

Also, I’m being ridiculous in thinking I need to prep my kids for college-application-well-roundedness, now.

But also? – ain’t that the way of our hetero-normative, college-bound society?

Gavin, chill the f out.

Oh, look. The older kid just scored a point. Good for him.

I’m signing up the little guy up for ballet, now.

I need to be consistent in my paternal insanity.

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