I wrote a while back about Egg and his love of mary janes, dresses, and pink things in general. I was annoyed that he could run around in all boy clothes but people would determine if he was a boy or girl simply based on his shoes. I also have been annoyed when a few nasty people have made comments about him carrying a purse around during his hobo phase. He carried a purse, bag, backpack, whatever was handy at the time. I did not appreciate the catty remarks. Kids like to have stuff. You need to put your stuff IN something to carry it around. Not a big fucking deal in my opinion.
Egg is going through a princess phase, probably because he’s been reading “My Princess Boy.” I bought it for him for Christmas, and he reads it with his father. I could give two shits about looking like a princess on any given day. But Egg cares. He requests a particular dress, asks for makeup, pretty things for his hair, and flits about like a delighted puppy. He goes into the backyard to dance in his dress. It’s pretty fucking adorable. This is one of two dresses he loves, with his purple tutu under it. It looks like he is wearing tights, but nope. He’s just super white boy.
This week I took Egg and Coop to a doctor’s appointment. We were in the waiting room and a woman noticed Egg in a dress running around. She commented on how cute “she” was and I said “thank you.” I’m not going to correct a stranger, because anyone seeing a child in a dress is going to assume that child is a girl. I don’t care if she thinks Egg is a girl. But then she pressed onward, because of course she did.
Woman: How old is she?
Sam: *omfg this is going to be one of those conversations isn’t it?* Three.
Woman: What’s her name?
Sam: *ah fuck* James.
Woman: *turns to man she’s with* Oh now that’s unusual but I LIKE IT. I’ve thought about naming a girl James. (Goes off on a hipster tangent and turns back to me beaming.)
Sam: *I decide to break her brain because I just can’t imagine naming a girl James. JUST DON’T DO IT, OKAY LADY?* He’s a boy.
Woman: *looks at Coop on my lap* No, I mean her. *points at Egg*
Sam: Yes, he’s a boy.
Woman: *points at Coop on my lap, dressed in blue* No, not HIM, HER. *points to Egg*
Sam: *points to Egg* He is a boy. He is playing dress up. He is a princess today.
Woman: *light bulb as she realizes I am trying to tell her that Egg is a boy*
If this conversation is sounding really awkward and horrible, then I am telling it exactly right. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around a boy wearing a dress. Then came the standard questions I hear from almost any stranger who has forced me down this path:
1) Does he have sisters?
2) What does his father think?
The sister question seems innocent enough, and if I was inclined to lie about such things I would simply say, “Yes. He has a sister.” Then the question asker would feel better, because a little boy dressing up as a princess is somewhat acceptable if he is mimicking his sister and wearing her dresses. I’m not a crazy, my kid is normal, all is right with the world. However, I’m a bitch. I’m not about to lie to you to make YOU feel better. I’m also not going to shame my child by lying about his actions. He’s a fucking princess. He’s adorable. That’s all.
The second question makes me stabby. People in general assume the mother would dress her boy child in girls’ clothing against the father’s wishes. Because a boy in a dress emasculates his father. The next step is makin’ ‘em queer, right? Egg has two favorite dresses. Both of them were purchased by Adam at a garage sale his friend had. I wasn’t even there. Part of being an Aspie is when you don’t agree with a rule, you totally fucking ignore it. I was very amused when Aspergian John Elder Robison talked about it in his latest book. Aspie’s follow rules! Unless they don’t! Here’s the craziest part: None of this is part of my agenda, unless my agenda is apathy mixed with loving my kids and supporting what they choose to do.
For me, the most humorous part of that waiting room visit was when the receptionist asked me if I was babysitting. She knows me well enough to know my name, Chicken’s name, and how many children I have and that they are all boys. I see her at least once a month, and have since last spring. And yet she did not recognize Egg at all. However, the doctor knew it was Egg. He gets a gold star for seeing past the dress.
I met a nice lady who asked me if I was raising Egg “gender neutral.” I had to ask her what she meant. She told me her friend is raising a baby as gender neutral. The baby is not referred to as “he” or “she” and wears traditional boy clothes and girl clothes. After I picked up my mouth from the floor, I explained my very complex parenting style to her.
Egg dresses himself most days. He wears whatever he wants as long as he is adequately clothed for the weather. I don’t let him go out in public without shoes. He has to have his bathing suit area covered. If he wants to wear a dress or a team jersey that is fine by me. I don’t care. If he’s wearing a tutu, he has to have shorts or pants under it because tutus aren’t the best at being modest I’ve found. If he wants to have Dora the Explorer undies, I buy them. If he wants a dress, I buy it. This is not to say I buy him whatever, whenever. I am saying that my purchases are not limited to the boys’ clothing section.
If I wasn’t so fucking wordy, I would simply say this: When my child is old enough to express a preference then I allow them to dress in the manner they prefer.
The last question that I hear is: “What about when he goes to kindergarten?” I have no fucking clue. None. Today, the only child of mine that took a nap longer than fifteen minutes was Chicken. Coop demonstrated this magical ability to move ten feet in the living room without the abilities of crawling or walking. I think he might be teleporting on his diapered ass. He’s back to only sleeping attached to me or in the swing. Ninety percent of that sleeping is attached to me. Don’t ask me questions about Fall 2014. Chicken will have just graduated from high school a few months before, and I cannot imagine that day ever coming. To ask me about an event further away than my baby graduating from high school? HAHAHAHAHA. I’ll get back to you when at least two of my children sleep through the night, okay?
[The reason I included Egg's actual name in this post is to illustrate how boy his name is. And then I looked it up on the Social Security Administration's website and found it has been used as a girl's name. In 1928 it was the 319th most popular name in the United States. So I'm ignorant AND snobby.]