Monday, September 16, 2013

What Would I Do Differently?

When confronted with Eli's presentation, someone asked my husband what we would've done differently in order to avoid having a boy who dresses like a girl.

How do I even begin to answer that question?  I have the sense and the clarity to understand that the question has nothing to do with Eli and everything to do with us as Eli's parents. I suppose, really, the thing to do is to recognize that it isn't even a question. It's an accusation. An accusation that Adam and I must've made some sort of horrific mistake in our parenting approach. That there is some fatal flaw that caused our child to be this way. That we broke him when we could've fixed him.

I wasn't there when that question was asked, but if I had been, this is what my response would have been:

What would I do differently? Not a damn thing. Not. One. Damn. Thing.

Eli is absolutely and completely perfect being exactly the way he is. Exactly the way he has always been. I do not wish to change him. I do not think there is something that I did to make him the way he is. I do not think he is broken. 

But...if there was an influence that came from me to give Eli the ability to be who he is without worrying about what other people think then I have done my job. I have done my job damn well and I am damn proud. 

There is also a caveat to my response because in all honesty, there are *some* things I would do differently...

When Eli threw tantrums to express his frustration with the world, I would have hugged him a little bit tighter, held him a little bit longer.

I would have taken him shopping for girls' clothes much sooner.

I would redo all those moments where I steered him in the direction of making a clothing choice that was the least embarrassing choice for ME.

If I could do it over, I wouldn't snicker at somebody when they had a strange outfit on. I wouldn't raise my eyebrows when I saw somebody with purple hair. I wouldn't nudge a companion and point out someone's ugly coat.

I wouldn't use the words "gay" or "retarded" in place of the words "ridiculous" or "stupid". EVER.

I wouldn't make judgments about people based on the way that they look. I would take the time to get to know somebody before I created my opinion about them. I would have taken the time to get to know them the exact same way that I am asking everybody else to take the time to get to know Eli before they judge him.

I would see the person before I saw their clothes.

Yes. I guess there *are* things I would've done differently. And the first would be to filter out people who ask stupid questions.

Now, look at those smiles...does it look like we should be doing something different to you?


jvoor said...

What a beautiful photo! :)

Renee D. said...

Wow! Well said! I am asked everyday how I must feel to have been " burdened" with a totally feminine boy. Or worse that I somehow had some sinister intent to cause it all to happen as if being feminine is a bad thing to start with.

Sadly most of the time it is pointed out how I caused this. If only you hadn't grown his hair so long. If only you hadn't let him wear dresses. If only you had not bought him dolls.

If only.........

Like you I not only have no regrets but believe I did the right thing and am rewarded with a fantastic child. I would not change a thing either. Just sitting here watching my beautiful child braiding his dolls hair to match his own wearing his favorite yellow sundress can it get any better :)

Thank you for saying what I think daily


Alicia said...

Thank you for your wonderful article. I think your kids are both so wonderful!