Last night, during our discussion-in-the-dark-before-sleep-claims us, Mr. Genius and I were talking over the extracurricular activities the kids have asked to do when Covid-19 is over. Some were expected, some were silly, and some were wistful wishes for a world that hadn’t turned upside down on them. It was something of a sad discussion, honestly. Planning for a world without the threat of Covid-19 seems odd.
Fitting in (or not)
Mr. Genius told me that the Engineer had asked to go back to scouts. We were part of a BPSA (Baden-Powell Service Association) troop where we used to live, but there are no local troops here. I looked up the closest co-ed Scouts BSA troop and just wasn’t feeling it. It was church sponsored, and every boy in their event pictures had short, “masculine” hair.
He stopped for a moment, and then told me “they’re going to eat him alive.”
My smart, homeschooled kiddo with long hair, currently sporting rainbow nail polish and adamant that Black Lives Matter, is the definition of “outsider.” What the kids don’t say to him, the parents probably will.
So knowing this … knowing it’s probably not a good fit, do we let him join? Do we say “no, we don’t think this is a good idea right now?” Knowing his neurodiversity manifests in ways average people classify as defiance or misbehavior, do we allow him to test his limits?
Time to decide
We certainly haven’t decided anything yet. We have time, thanks to Covid-19. Which leaves me plenty of time to agonize whether we should protect our nine-year-old or let him try, hoping that he will show his strength and individualism?
For myself, I don’t care what other people think, or at least I try not to. But for my kids … I care that they don’t get hurt. That they find people they click with, find their tribe without experiencing the heartache and loneliness of being different and never fitting in.
It’s just hair
My 5-year-old (also with long hair) frowned at me the other day and said “I don’t like people thinking I’m a girl.” I sat down with him and asked, “are you a girl?” He laughed – this child who literally fits every male child stereotype out there – and told me “no! I’m not a girl!”
I asked him “do you feel like a girl inside?” (pulling from multiple earlier discussions that some people feel like they’re in the wrong body) and he smiled “no! I feel like a boy! I like my body the way it is.” Ok then. “So if you feel like a boy and you like being a boy, does it matter what those other people think?”
He got thoughtful and quiet. “No.” I hugged him. “I have short hair, right? Does that make me a boy?” He giggled, “no, you’re Mommy!” At this point all of the kids were listening. “Hair is just hair, it has nothing to do with anything. And you shouldn’t change who you are because of what other people think.”
They ran off to go play with robots while I fixed lunch. I think back on that discussion now, and I realize that even though it may affect them, I can’t change who I am either.
I would like to think the fact that I am queer won’t make their lives more difficult in a scout troop, dance group, or soccer team. I hope not. But even if it does, I am who I am. I will not hide who or what I am, not even for my kids. Not even to fit in.