I don’t know about your kids, but my kids sometimes just blurt out things to start a discussion. They have no qualms about the day or the time….like first thing in the morning on a Saturday, or while cleaning up from dinner, to right before I say my goodnights to them.
A few weeks ago, J, who is always an early riser, started his Saturday conversation with me about a boy in his class, John.* Now, I’ve heard about John before, and a lot of other of the kids in his classroom. I first heard about John closer to the beginning of the school year and that John likes “girl” things. I asked J to clarify and was informed that John prefers dolls, princesses, and pink things. I said, “ok, that’s cool. We are all free to like what we like.” I’ve also very quickly corrected him when I’ve heard him saying that he and some of the other friends were laughing because of what John likes…I always try to spin it to remind him how he would feel if he was laughed at because of what he likes.
This has gone on and off since the beginning of school and each time, I normalize what John is doing, because frankly, I am a firm believer that it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you like (or don’t like) as long as you are not hurting yourself or anyone else.
Then came the week before February vacation. Each day, J’s school had a theme, much like a spirit week. One particular day was “character day.” Students could dress as any character they liked. J chose Captain America. John dressed as a princess.
So, on the Saturday morning, where I had maybe one sip of coffee, J blurts out, “John says he is actually a girl.” I said, OK? J continued, “no, really, he says that he is actually a girl inside.”
Wow. Big concepts on a Saturday.
I took a moment, and in my best way to describe gender identity to a five-year-old said, “well, sometimes that happens.” J looked puzzled.
Me: “Sometimes there are people that feel like they were born in the wrong body. A boy may feel that he is actually a girl, and a girl may feel like she is actually a boy.”
J: That’s weird.
Me: It’s not weird, it can happen. So, to make themselves feel happier, they may dress the way they feel.
He asked a few more questions to make sure I hadn’t lost my mind, and then moved on to playing Legos.
I truly feel it is my job as a parent to answer all questions as openly as possible, and I am always honest. I have ingrained in my kiddos that I don’t lie to them. I want to make sure they know they can always come to me with whatever question they have looming…without fear of being judged or questioned.
On top of that, I want my kids to be accepting of others and think they will mirror my reactions when dealing with people of different sizes, colors, or lifestyles. We are all normal. We are all human.
That evening ended with A telling me that her best friend (female) is dating a girl and that A stood up for her when their other “friends” were not being as accepting. Way to be awesome, A.
I know that these are the first of many conversations that we will have over a whole host of different topics. One thing is for certain though, I am proud of the little people they are turning into.
Oh, and as an aside….on a different night, A asked me if I believed in God. So, that was fun.
*Name has been changed.