Sunday, January 20, 2008

Toddler Cross-Dressing

The benefit of having cousins at school fundraising ages and a mother who can’t resist them, is that I get free magazine subscriptions. When the 4th kid shows up with the order form and she’s already ordered every quilting and Family Circle magazine possible, that’ when she thinks of me. This time around she picked out a new parenting magazine for me, Cookie.

I received my first issue this week and it was interesting if not a little snooty. When they’re showcasing kids clothes with average prices around $80 per item I get a little turned off. And even if that onesie was hand made by a malnourished Ethiopian, I can’t afford to pay $139 for it. I would love to help the Ethiopians, but I’ve had a long standing tradition of supporting child labor in China and Taiwan and I can’t very well just up and pull my aid from them so I’ll continue to buy my onesies at Wal-Mart for $3.50.

The issue did have some very funny pieces in it and one that I found quite thought provoking. It was about a 4 yr. old boy who loved anything pink and liked to wear dresses (click here to see the article). The parents had indulged him and let him wear some costume dresses around the house and then one day he declared that he wanted to wear one to preschool. Well Bravo for these parents because after giving it some thought and preparing the kid for the reactions he would receive, they let him go to school in a dress. He got teased of course but all in all the teachers and other children were supportive. They must live in California, or New York.

It got me thinking though about how I would react if my son wanted to wear a dress. While I applaud these parents for allowing their child to express himself, I’m afraid that if it was my kid I would have told him that although it was perfectly all right for him to want to wear a dress, Mommy and Daddy would only allow it at home, with the curtains closed, at least until he went off to college and then he could feel free to frequent any sort of club his little heart desired. He could even feel free to borrow some of Mommy’s jewelry. Until then there would always be plenty of opportunities in the school play or the swing choir to express some of those tendencies.

It’s not that I would want to suppress his true self but we do live in the Midwest and quite frankly I wouldn’t have the courage to send him out to such ridicule and discrimination. Even me just pondering what it might be like if Aaron had some less than boyish characteristics is probably sending my poor husband into convulsions. Although he prides himself on his tolerance he once said to me in a restaurant where two very obviously gay men were having dinner "I don’t understand why they have to act so. . . so GAY in public." The first step in dealing with your homophobia dear is to accept it.

But I’m quite relieved to report that so far Aaron has had no inclination to wear a dress, though he is quite fond of costumes and really if we just added an Indian outfit he would have a costume to represent each member of the Village Boys. . . hmmm. Just kidding dear.

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