Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Eli had his first soccer game. He chose to wear his pink, light-up sneakers. The ones with Disney princesses on them. To me, when I look at Eli, it's perfectly normal for him to be wearing those shoes. In my mind, they're not pink sneakers. They're Eli's sneakers.

We arrived at the soccer field to meet Eli's teammates for the first time. One of his teammates had his big brother and father there with him. The big brother noticed Eli's shoes immediately and said to his father (in a nasty-ish tone) "Why is he wearing pink sneakers?", to which the dad replied (in an equally nasty-ish tone), "Good question".

My initial response was a physical response. It's the same physical response I get every single time I hear someone make fun of Eli when they think no one is listening, or see someone laugh at him when they think no one is watching. It starts with a my heart beating fast. Then my chest tightens. Then I start tingling from my shoulders all the way down to my fingers and my eyes burn with tears.

I waited a few minutes to compose myself and tried to think of a strategy. I decided to give the dad the benefit of the doubt. I walked up to him, smiling, and said in a friendly voice, "Oh, was your son asking about Eli's pink sneakers?".

The dad looked straight ahead and at first, didn't acknowledge me. I wasn't sure if he even heard me or even knew I was standing right next to him. But he cleared his throat, smirked and said, "Yeah," with a sharp exhale.

At this point, I thought his response to me could be interpreted in a couple of different ways. My gut reaction was to assume that he was a giant ass. My second thought was that perhaps there was a chance that he was just embarrassed. After all, haven't all of our children said something in public about someone else that we wish we could take back?

Going with the idea that he was embarrassed, I said, "Oh, you know, we get SO many questions. Kids are always asking about the way he dresses. He just likes pink and purple."

And then the dad changed the game. He said, "Well, I just figured he had an older sister and those were her shoes."

No. No, he does not have an older sister. They are not her shoes. They are Eli's very own shoes that he just loves. Which is the gist of what I said to him. But what I REALLY wanted to say was, "I'd rather raise a son that dresses in girls' clothes than raise a son who's ignorant."

I knew this guy was just a narrow-minded, insensitive jerk. I don't even know his name and his opinion is unimportant to me. I knew all of this, but I still quietly cried tears of frustration. My frustration doesn't lie in the fact that people don't agree with the way we've chosen to raise our son. My frustration doesn't lie in the fact that there are people who are anti-gay or anti-transgender or whatever it is that Eli will turn out to be. My frustration lies with the fact that people give a shit about what color sneakers my son is wearing. Why does it matter enough to someone to keep them from being kind?

Later that same weekend, we took our boys to the state fair. Eli was wearing his signature hair piece...a braided headband with long strands of hair attached to either side that hang in pig tails. While waiting in line for a ride, a man in front of us could not take his eyes off of Eli. His eyes remained glued on Eli and his hair for the entire 12 minutes that we waited in line. I didn't think that Eli noticed. But I did. I was very uncomfortable standing there, feeling his eyes on us. I was irritated that this guy wasn't even embarrassed enough to look away every time I made eye contact with him and caught him looking.

Eli is much more eloquent about his uniqueness than I could ever be. I am humbled, amazed and proud of his eloquence and of his capability, at such a young age, to so simply and perfectly state the obvious and to not feel judged or embarrassed by it and to put it out there just the way that it is, on the rawest of levels. Eli looked up at me and said in a voice loud enough for the man to hear, "I think that man is confused by my hair."

I had to chuckle. I looked at Eli and said "You know what, Eli? I think you might be right!". I continued on and said, "You know what else? I don't care what that man thinks. Do you care what that man thinks?". Eli thought for a second and said, "No," so I told him, "Good! It doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. If you like your hair, you should keep wearing it."

A week later, I took Eli to the playground where a few children were already playing on the equipment. The older of the two children began pointing and laughing at Eli, who (as usual) was wearing his "hair". The same physical response I had experienced a week earlier returned. But I forced myself to sit back and watch how Eli would respond.

He responded by standing tall, putting his hands on his hips and saying, "I'm a boy and I like girl things."

He said it simply. With strength. And pride.

I was floored. And oh, so proud.

It was a beautiful moment for me as Eli's mother, to stand in awe, watching my son be so mature and grounded and listening as he, once again, stated with simple eloquence the core of who he really is without a trace of embarrassment or shame.

I don't know what the rest of Eli's story is going to be. But I do know that I'm sure there are many experiences like this to come. My hope for him is that he will continue his life possessing the self-awareness and self-confidence that he has been able to muster at age four.

Other people may be confused by Eli, but that kid knows exactly who he is.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Yesterday, after I had finished getting dressed, Eli came into my room and said, "Mommy! Why are you wearing a collared shirt?" I said, "Because I like this shirt," to which he replied with a small smile, "But you look like a boy!".

"Really!?", I thought, "This coming from a boy who wears a sparkly Dora nightgown to bed and wigs and leg warmers!?".

I had to laugh, but I also had to be serious and take the opportunity to drive a lesson home. I asked him how it made him feel when people said he looked like a girl because of something he was wearing ("sad") and asked him how he thought it made me feel when he said I looked like a boy because I had a collar on my shirt ("sad"). I reminded him of past conversations we've had about not poking fun of someone because of what they are wearing or what they look like, that the important part of a person is what's on the inside. He seemed to understand (for the moment, anyway) and he turned around and scampered off to his Barbies.

This conversation appeared to resolve itself easily enough, but I know it's one of many that we will continue to have in order to reiterate the lesson.

I thought about this last night as I put Eli to bed and he told me about all of the things he plays with in his classroom. He told me about the "dress up" center. I asked him what he likes to dress up as and he said, "a builder". I have to admit, I was surprised. I was expecting him to say something like a princess or a ballerina since that's what he likes to dress up as at home.

"What do you like about dressing up as a builder?", I asked.

"The hat," he said. maybe he's going for a Village People kind of thing?

Still, something about this didn't sit right, so I pressed on and after a bit of digging, I got the answer that I knew was the real one lying under the surface: "People think I'm a girl when I dress up in girls' clothes."

"Does that make you feel bad?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

Of course, my first instinct was to be sad and feel sorry for him. I hate the idea of Eli not being Eli because he's worried about what other people think. I hate the idea that questions about wether he's a boy or a girl could upset him. But I also am beginning to learn that a person isn't necessarily being mean when they ask if he's a girl when he's wearing a dress or a wig. Sometimes, they are just being curious. They just want to know.

It's the same principle that applied to when he wanted to know why I was wearing a collared shirt. He wears a collared shirt to school. He's a boy. In his mind, boys wear collared shirts. And his mother, a woman, was wearing a collared shirt so he thought I looked like a boy. He wasn't necessarily being mean, he just was pointing out what was obvious to him and questioning something that doesn't fit into his framework.

This exchange helped me tremendously.  It gave me tools to offer to help him construct open and honest answers to those questions that inevitably come up.  Hopefully, a more cut and dried approach can help avoid hurt feelings when someone asks, "Why do you a have a Barbie lunchbox?".  He doesn't have to assume that they are teasing him and the assumption that they are asking out of curiosity may offer him the ability to respond in a matter-of-fact way, taking the emotion out of the equation completely and perhaps avoiding an upsetting situation.

Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that everyone out there who asks is simply being curious. I know this isn't case. But for now, it is the case and so for now, this is our approach.

As I finished tucking Eli into bed last night, I asked him if he wanted me to get him a new lunchbox, maybe something more subdued (his lunchbox right now is pink, sparkly and has a big old Barbie across the front). He looked at me, wide-eyed and serious and said, "Oh NO. I LOVE my lunchbox."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A few months ago, I had taken Ethan to Starbucks to kill some time before we had to pick Eli up from school. While Ethan sat sipping his chocolate milk and working on homework at a small table in the corner, a woman with a cane and a limp hobbled over to us. One of her eyes had clouded over with a cataract and her speech was a bit broken. She launched into a detailed story about how she needed $18 for a shelter that night and I'm sad to admit that I felt uncomfortable and a bit vulnerable being (literally) cornered by someone. I lied and said that I had no cash on me and couldn't help.

Disappointed, she hobbled away and I immediately felt ashamed. I have always tried to teach Ethan to be helpful and respectful toward others, including those who are homeless, and always offer whatever help I can to someone who appears to need it. I often pack extra snacks in my car in case I come across someone who is hungry. On this particular day, not only did I refuse to help this person when she obviously needed help, but I realized I set a horrible example for Ethan and missed out on a great teaching moment.

I wanted to fix this. I had to fix it. Berating myself for not responding to her request for help, I went outside to try to find her again. She was gone. And so was my opportunity.

I told Ethan how sad I was that I hadn't immediately responded to that woman and explained how disappointed in myself that I was and apologized to him for not offering a better example to him. We cleared our table and went to pick Eli up from school and run to the grocery store to get something for dinner but keept an eye out for the woman as we drove.

We arrived at the store and as soon as we walked in, both boys began to act as though they had never been brought out in public before. Still frustrated from earlier, I lost my patience and furiously led them back out to the car and began to drive out of the parking lot, listening to their pleas for second chances and promises of better behavior. At that point, I realized I had two choices: follow through on my threat to take them home without the ingredients for the meal they requested or go home unprepared to make dinner. Since I already had lost the mother of the year award that afternoon, I realized I had nothing left to lose, so I turned around and parked the car.

As we walked back into the store, I spotted someone familiar sitting on a bench near the door. It was the lady from Starbucks! Understanding that this was my chance to right my wrongs that day, I ran up to her and said, "I have been looking for you!". She looked a little confused and then I explained that I had talked to her at Starbucks and I wanted to help. Her confusion turned into a huge, toothless, happy smile. I gave her what she needed for her shelter stay, plus a little extra for transportation and said, "I'm so glad I found you again!". She looked at me and said, "Girl, so am I. So am I. You are so kind." If only she had seen me five minutes earlier yelling at my kids...

In all seriousness, it was so easy, yet felt so good to help her. I wish it had been my initial instinct the first time she'd asked. As I drove home, I thought about this, but Ethan interrupted my thoughts with a question, "Mommy, how did the lady get to the grocery store? It was a long walk and we didn't see her on the way." It's true. It WAS a long walk and I realized how many things had to happen just the right way in order for me to find her again...If it had taken a few less (or a few more) minutes to get Eli, we might've missed her. If the boys hadn't acted up, we might've missed her. If I hadn't turned the car around, we definitely would've missed her.

Perhaps it wasn't just Ethan who was destined to learn a lesson that day. And perhaps there is something to be said about the power of second chances.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My mother and I have a running joke about turning ten years old.  We say it's the magic age.  Big things happen when you turn ten.

What sort of things?  Well, when I was little, I was desperate for a dog.  I begged and pleaded.  Mum told me when I turned ten, I could get a dog and sure enough on my tenth birthday, I said, "Well, I'm ten now.  Where's my dog?"  (And yes, she delivered on the dog...a big, sweet Golden Retriever named Jessie.)

When Ethan asks me about babies and where they come from, I tell him that I'll explain it to him when he's ten.

And so, I kept this in mind this weekend while shopping with Adam and the boys at Target.  Ethan and I both had to use the restroom, so the two of us went into the restroom designated for families (while Adam and Eli headed into the aisles to begin collecting the items we needed.)

Ethan went first and I averted my eyes to give him some semblance of privacy.  While he stood facing the toilet, he looked down at the floor and his face lit up.  "Dynamite sticks!!", he exclaimed with excitement.

"Huh?", I said.

"Dynamite sticks!  There's a pink dynamite stick on the floor," Ethan explained.  "Why is there dynamite on the floor!?".

He motioned for me to come over and see the "dynamite sticks" so I peered over the toilet to see a bright pink (and thank goodness, unused) tampon still in its applicator.  And I have to admit, it looked a lot like a (very small) stick of dynamite.  Actually, I have no idea what size a stick of dynamite is but I imagine it is much bigger than a tampon.

I managed to explain that it wasn't dynamite, but that's about as far as I got before I lost control of my laughter.  Ethan continued on and on about the "dynamite sticks" demanding to know what it really was if it wasn't dynamite.

And in between giggles I managed to promise him, "I'll tell you when you're ten."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

During my maternity leave with Ethan, I took him to visit my office so I could show him off to everyone I worked with.  I remember introducing him to one of the ladies I worked with (who did not have children) and she said, "Are you enjoying your three month vacation?".

I almost cried.

First, I hadn't slept in four weeks.  Ethan wanted to eat every ninety minutes around the clock.  By the time I fed him, changed him and re-swaddled him, I only had about 45 minutes to sleep before he would wake again.  It was excruciating.  I've never been so tired in all of my life.

Second, it took everything I had to get myself up, dressed, showered and looking marginally presentable to make the trek across town to my office.  Never mind making sure I had the diaper bag packed with every item I might ever need while attempting to perfectly time Ethan's feeding with our outing (he had to be fed at the VERY last minute so that he could endure the drive AND a tour of my office - without a hunger meltdown).  And forget the fact that he would likely spit up on my clean clothes and require a diaper change right before we left, for which the clean up ate into about twenty minutes of my post-feeding-traveling-visiting-no-meltdown time.

Plus, I was trying to squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans because I just couldn't bear the thought of wearing maternity clothes for one more minute.  I'm certain I cut off circulation to major organs in my body that day.

My house was strewn with burp clothes.  Half-empty bottles were shoved in between couch cushions.  The only clean laundry in the house belonged to Ethan.  I was barely keeping afloat.

So when asked about my "vacation", all I wanted to do was scream, "VACATION!?!?  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?".  But I didn't.  I just smiled at my little bundle and mumbled something that I'm sure was totally incoherent.

I have to admit, as my boys are growing, I miss having a baby in my arms.  I miss smelling their baby smell, inhaling their sweet baby breath, feeling their warm little body next to mine.  But I don't miss coordinating my time of departure with a feeding, I don't miss feeling like I'm just teetering on the brink of being completely out of control and I don't miss not sleeping.  Not even a little.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It seems before each of the boys' birthdays, I always go through some sort of organizing frenzy.  I tell myself it's because I'm clearing out space for some of the new toys they will be getting as gifts, but really, I think tidying up is one thing I can do where I'm in full control, whereas I have no control over how fast those little boys grow.  De-cluttering distracts me from thinking that with each passing day, they are one day closer to moving out and away from me.

I was cleaning out some cabinets earlier this week and came across a pair of shoes that I had received as a gift for Eli when I was pregnant with him.  They were a pair of blue suede Stride Rite baby shoes and were so adorable, that as he grew out of them, I continued to purchase the exact same pair (just in a larger size).  Once he turned about a year, Ethan, Eli and I headed off to Stride Rite once again to buy his next pair, the third pair or maybe even the fourth by this time.

When we walked in, I simply showed the salesperson the shoe that Eli had on and said, "I'd like the same pair but a size larger". She redirected me from the "baby" shoes over to the "pre-walker" shoes and said, "I'm sorry, you have the largest size we make in that style, but you can choose something else."

Ethan was standing next to me, while Eli was likely either in his stroller or strapped to my chest but I remember quickly turning away from Ethan and swatting tears away.  This news struck me as a great injustice.  How DARE the salesperson point out to me that I no longer (and would never again) have an infant!?  I felt sad, inane and ridiculous and for one crazy moment, I thought about leaving in a huff.  When I turned and looked at Ethan, I saw that he also had tears in his eyes.

"Why are YOU crying!?", I remember asking him through my own tears half laughing, half sniffling.

"Well...I'm just sad.  Because Eli's not going to seem like Eli anymore without his shoes!"  And with that statement, Ethan's tears spilled over and he was sobbing.  Quite simply (and eloquently), he summed up the way I was feeling.  It's the way I always feel when either of my boys cross over that very fine, invisible line of growing from one stage into the next.

The line is ever so fine, barely there, and when they start crossing over it, they begin with a light step, a slight tip-toe but yet seem to land on the other side with a clanging, jarring thud that I suppose I will never grow accustomed to.  It's a grand and loud announcement of "I'm growing up!  I'm one step closer to leaving the nest!"  I am caught off guard every single time I'm greeted with one of these new stages, however insignificant it may be (new shoes, the move from a crib into a bed, a lost tooth).   I'm never prepared for these moments and yet they don't (and won't) stop.

I assume the trick is to enjoy the moment (which I have to admit, I'm not all that great at doing).  In the meantime, I'm going to hang onto those little shoes for dear life.  They remind me of my sweet, sensitive boys.  And of the Stride Rite lady who looked at the three of us and was probably wishing she'd applied for a job at the Barnes and Noble across the street instead.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tonight, while eating out with friends, I heard Ethan cackling and out of the corner of my eye, I could see him pointing at something.  I turned to see what he was pointing at and with sudden horror, I realized he was pointing at a little boy wearing a girls' ski coat (and it wasn't even MY little boy - for once...).  I felt as if my stomach dropped straight to the floor as my heart ripped from one emotion onto the next...fury, sadness, surprise, devastation, disbelief.  After all, after everything that I've been preaching, how could one of my own be making fun of someone for something that I feel so passionate about?  What was he thinking!?

Outraged, I called Ethan over to me and with tears in my eyes, I furiously addressed his behavior, hissing at him, his face just inches from my own.  I was overcome with sadness, angry that Ethan had let me down in this way, that he had openly rebuked my most important teachings and missed an opportunity to set a good example in front of one of his friends.  Since my last post, I've had so many messages pouring in to me about what an amazing mom people think I am, and tonight, I felt like a fraud.  I've been joking to people that pay me compliments that this is all a facade...and now I feel like I was right.  How can I expect society to accept and respect Eli's quarks when I'm failing to teach my own family how to do it!?

At home, behind closed doors, I told Adam what had happened.  He was just as exasperated and disappointed as I was and we calmly sat Ethan down and explained to him why that behavior was so hurtful.  I told him about the year I was in third grade when I was the target of constant teasing.  I told him how I cried at school almost every day and that I would pretend I was sick and go to the nurse so that she would call my mother to come pick me up and that almost thirty years later, I still remember how bad that felt.  I told him that making fun of someone is a really, really big deal, even if they don't hear you.  I even let him read my last two blog posts and when he finished, he had tears in his eyes.  He cried, telling me how embarrassed he was and that he never should have laughed at the little boy in the purple coat.  I asked Ethan if he knew what he was doing was wrong when he was laughing and he said, "I did hear a little voice telling me it was not a good idea."

I hugged him and said quietly, "That little voice in your head is always right.  Always listen to that voice.  That little voice will never let you down."  And then I said, "Did you read on my blog about how much I love Eli and how I will love him no matter what?  That's how I feel about you, too.  I love you so much and I will always, always love you."  I'm still shaking my head at what happened, but I have to remind myself that Ethan is just 7 and is still learning how to be the best he can be.  And I'm still learning the best way to teach him that.

I've been pretty hard on myself the last few months, wishing that I was doing "more" with my life rather than "just being a mother", but as I sat there with Ethan, snuggled in his bed, I realized just how much these two little boys of mine need my mothering.  They may need me for different reasons, but they need me.  Tonight, I was reminded that being a mother to those boys isn't just my job, it's my life's work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adam and I are always very careful about how we talk about Eli's flair for the feminine when we are in front of Eli (if we even talk about it all).  Knowing that, you can appreciate the story I'm about to tell...Eli is either very intuitive or has been up late at night reading my last blog post!

Last week, I took Eli to the Imagine It! Children's Museum where there was a fairy tale exhibit I knew he would love (which was complete with princess dresses to try on).  We went right to the exhibit where Eli excitedly began to rifle through the boxes of sparkly, ruffled dresses.  

He chose a yellow dress with pink roses and as he put it on I exclaimed, "Oh Eli!  You look beautiful!".  He glanced sideways and then looked at me and said "Maybe I should take this off".  Perplexed, I said, "Why!?".  He looked sideways again and pointed to a gaggle of young girls who were staring at him and he said, "Because they want me to act like a boy".  My heart felt like a balloon that just had the helium leaked out of it, shrinking and twisting in a downward spiral.  This is the conversation I've been dreading for more than a year and I was shocked that it happened so soon.  

Trying to wipe the tears off my cheeks so he wouldn't notice I was crying, I dragged him off to a corner and pulled him down on my lap and squeezed him tight.  I told him that it doesn't matter what anyway else thinks and asked him how wearing a dress makes him feel ("happy") and how it felt when he took the dress off ("sad") - and this is where I had to fight off the urge to go over and flip the lunch table that those little staring girls were sitting at.  I told Eli I was so proud of him and that he looks beautiful in a dress and that we should go back to trying them on.  Then he ran away from me and when I chased after him he said (and I am directly quoting here), "I just have to work this out myself.  Not with you," and with that, he scampered off to play/hide in a little tunnel.  Stunned, I sat patiently at the end of the tunnel and waited for him to come out, which he eventually did.  After he crawled out of the tunnel and stood up, he said, "Maybe I will just wear dresses at home."  I asked why and he said, "Because it's just weird."  My mama bear instincts kicked into high gear and I practically shouted, "Who told you it was weird!?  It is NOT weird!  It makes you happy to wear a dress!".  He just shook his head and said, "It's just weird."

It's days later and my insides still feel shredded and I have tears in my eyes just remembering his sweet, confused, disappointed yet determined little face. It hurts to see your kids hurt, but I'm grateful for the life lessons that all four of us are learning.  Our experience at the museum made me realize how powerful just one little look can be and how bad it can feel to someone when they know someone is staring at them just because they may look or act a little different.  It's not enough to be accepting, we also must be respectful.  It's not enough to be tolerant, but we must also be supportive.  These are good lessons to teach to our children, but also necessary lessons to learn as adults.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I came across this article tonight and it stuck with me.  It more than stuck with me.  It made me want to hunt down this dad and offer him a few choice words.  It also made me want to hunt down the older brother and give him a huge hug and a big old kiss on the cheek.

I'm a mother to a boy who loves purple, pink and just about anything that has to do with Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake or the Disney princesses.  Though he wears "traditional boy" clothes - striped shirts, jeans, Chuck Taylors - he doesn't usually leave the house without some sparkly accessory or other feminine flair.  This is just fine with me.  And with my husband.  It's other people that seem to squirm and stare.  And I gotta say - it really pisses me off.  Why does anybody care what my son plays with or what he dresses like!?

Just last week, Eli wanted to get an American Girl doll with some money he received for Chanukah.  I was more than happy to oblige.  After all, Ethan asked to buy Legos with his Chanukah money and I didn't bat an eyelash.  Eli and I packed into my van and headed off to the American Girl store and during the entire drive there, Eli chattered on about the "American store" and how excited he was to pick out his doll.  By the time we pulled into our parking space, he was practically hyperventilating.

I tried to be cool as we strolled around the store, but to be honest, I could feel many sets of eyes on Eli and I.  After maneuvering past women and children who appeared to be utterly fascinated that a boy would be playing with a (gasp!) doll, we strode up to the cashier who peered over the counter and said to Eli, "You are such a lucky little girl!".  I decided to just let this one go by since I really didn't want to be rude and correct her but then she said, "Is this your little girl's first American Girl doll?" and I had to say, "Um...actually, he's a boy."  I said it cooly and tonelessly, plainly stating the facts and proud of myself for not throwing in the explanations that I usually have at the ready to diffuse the awkwardness of these situations.  I wasn't offended by what she said - it was an easy conclusion to draw given our surroundings.  But she stopped was she was doing, clearly flustered and started sputtering apology after apology which only made the situation more and more uncomfortable.

When we finally got away, after what seemed like an eternity, we headed to the Bistro where we greeted by the hostess who asked us how many in our party.  I responded with, "Two, please."  On the way to the table, she began to make small talk with us and asked Eli in a sing song voice, "Oh, is that your sister's doll?"  My heart sank and the only thing that kept me from bursting into tears was the fact that Eli was completely clueless.  He just strutted on through the restaurant proudly holding his big red box with his new doll.

During lunch, several people came by our table to check on us.  One manager even said, "Oh, your little girl is so cute."  Okay.  Hold the phone.  Eli IS adorable.  His hair is bright orange and fuzzy like a duck.  He has an infectious smile and gorgeous, creamy skin.  But he looks NOTHING like a girl, and certainly not a cute girl.  In fact, I think he would make kind of an ugly girl.  Plus, what kind of mother would give their sweet little daughter the messed up, cropped haircut he has and put him in dark brown pants and a pea green shirt?  (Obviously, I jest, but you get the point....)

I felt a lump in my throat for the majority of the day.  Not because anything particularly bad happened and not because anything happened that upset Eli...but I caught a glimpse of the possibilities of the future and was reminded that Eli might not always be oblivious to the stir that he seems to create around him and that while he doesn't notice the stares now, someday he will, and someday they might hurt.

I am so blessed by a loving family and loving friends who accept Eli with the same open minds and open hearts that Adam and I accept him with, and that makes me forget about all the other idiots out there who can't or won't mind their own business and won't get past what Eli appears to be on the outside and therefore will miss out on seeing how absolutely amazing he is.

And if I hear one person tell me "It could just be a phase," I might scream.  It might be.  And it might not be.  But who cares if it is or isn't?  I don't need consolation.  And while I'm sad that Eli could be hurt by the nastiest of others, I don't feel sorry for him or for myself.  I'm not hoping that Eli might turn out to be someone else.  I love him EXACTLY the way he is.  When I hear someone say "It could just be a phase," what I feel like is left off of that sentence is "Let's hope it is."  Look, I know what I could be up against.  I know what Eli could be up against. Will his life be hard if the preferences he shows aren't a phase and continue into adulthood?  Probably.  And we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Together.  But in the meantime, I sleep REALLY well at night knowing that no matter what turns his life takes as long as I am his mother, and Adam is his father that he will ALWAYS have the wind at his back and will always be bolstered by the pride and the unconditional love that we have for our sweet, incredible and beautiful son.  And I will take to him the American Girl store ANY TIME he wants to go.  And who could just be a phase...:0)