Phobic Football

Yay sportsing! Yay football! Yay Super Bowl!

FullSizeRender(2)Chase likes football. He played flag football for three years and really enjoyed it; but he didn’t enjoy getting teased by his peers for it. Apparently flag football isn’t cool. You know what is cool? Spending $1,000+ a year and giving up all of your weekends to play Pop Warner and risk a traumatic injury.

I don’t want my kids – or anybody – to be tackled. I can’t think of many times in life when tackling is necessary.

Our family agreed that when Chase started middle school he could start Pop Warner. We signed him up, paid the dues and cleared our schedules. I sprung for the safest helmet money could buy. The first week was all conditioning and no contact. That was a good week.

Then came the first practice in pads with full contact and it went like this:

Pop Warner Coach: Do you have any experience playing defensive end?

Clayton: Yeah, I played it in flag football.

Pop Warner Coach: Don’t ever say that again or I’ll kick you in the nuts. Flag football is fag football.

I didn’t hear the exchange, but I could tell something was wrong as I walked to the car with Chase after practice. He wouldn’t say a word until we were in the car and on our way home; because he’s smart enough to know that when he told me, I might march myself back to the field and say something to the coach.

“Are you (bit my tongue so the eff word wouldn’t escape) kidding me?!” I said.

“I know, right?!” Chase was a little relieved that he had told me — and that I was past the point of turning the car and making my way to the field.

I tried my hardest to use it as a teachable moment. Adults shouldn’t use that language. Playing flag football doesn’t make you gay. No one should say that they are going to kick someone in the nuts. Blah. Blah. Blah.

“I know all of that. I’m straight. I just feel bad because there has to be at least one gay kid on my team and if they heard that they probably feel sad and horrible,” he explained.

My heart melted.

FullSizeRender(1)When we got home we filled Matt in and I have to admit that a teensy tiny part of me worried that he would say that it sucks but that’s how it is in football. That was a ridiculous worry; he was more upset than I was.

After we got the kids settled in bed for the night, I called my brother.

“That is horrible! Ugh! That makes me so mad! I knew this was going to happen. I just knew it. When I played Pop Warner, I was bullied and called the worst names because I was the little gay kid whose parents signed him up for tackle football. Chase is too good for football,” he said.

I was ready to spend the evening crafting a strongly worded email to Pop Warner backed by the effects of bullying and homophobia on LGBTQ kids, but Matt wanted to actually talk to the appropriate people about the situation. So, I wrote that email in my head over and over all night, perfecting it, because I can’t let go of words and because I’m better at writing words than talking to people.

He called the head coach who was shocked. Minutes before the next practice Matt brought it up to another parent from the team (and Pop Warner board member) with others in earshot — which always gives me anxiety because where we live there’s usually a good chance that people will brush it off or defend homophobic slurs. But, every other parent who heard was appalled. I wanted to hug them all.

Turns out that along with being homophobic at practice, he was also drunk. He was immediately excused from practice and can no longer coach Pop Warner.

Then, Chase broke his leg and was out for the season. And, I felt guilty. Like the broken leg was somehow the result of me wanting so badly for him to not play tackle football. I had to remind myself that broken legs can happen in any of the footballs: fag, flag, tackle, two-hand touch, powder-puff, etcetera.

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Happy 9th Birthday C.J.!

Guess who’s 9 years old today? C.J.!

At the very top of his birthday wish list are:


I remember back to his third birthday when he wanted a Disney Princess themed party, which left Matt and I feeling uncomfortable and unsure. Oh how things change and evolve with the passing of time and  personal growth. Matt and I can’t wait for C.J.’s “Make My Birthday A Masterpiece” rainbow art party, when all of his best girl friends will gather around the table for an art lesson and rainbow cupcakes.

Thanks to all of you for being there for these milestones. C.J. says “heyyyyyyyyyyy.”

The biggest claw machine in Orange County...and obviously his favorite. Today he won three out of four times.

The biggest claw machine in Orange County…and obviously his favorite. Today he won three out of four times.

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C.J. Live Tweets His Golden Globes Reactions

C.J. had been waiting all week to watch the Golden Globes Red Carpet and share his thoughts and opinions via Facebook and Twitter. In case you missed the live action…

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C.J.’s Urban Hike To The Broad

IMG_8590The kids had a bunch of days off from school recently because of holidays and the New Year and what not. I was trying to think of things to do with them when my brother suggested we meet him in Downtown L.A. for an urban hike and The Broad — the newest contemporary art museum in L.A.

The day of our adventure, we met Uncle Michael and he took C.J. and Chase on the urban hike while Matt and I waited in line to get into The Broad with Grandma Colorado (who was in town visiting and agreed to go even though she doesn’t “know anything about that kind of art”). I’m not going to lie, that line is not short. If you’re better than us at things like preparing and planning ahead, check out their website for tickets.

IMG_8580Uncle Michael led Chase and C.J. on a tour around the Walt Disney Concert Hall, where Chase – a possible future architect– admired the work and took lots of photos. They saw a bunch of other stuff too, but I can’t remember it all now because I was too busy standing in line at the time.

As soon as we entered the doors of The Broad we were instantly mesmerized by the cave-like interior and stack of massive white dinner plates that was taller than any of us. It was well worth the two-hour wait.

IMG_8571We went upstairs and saw Tulips by Jeff Koons. They look like a giant bouquet of tulips made out of balloons. (I’m horrible at describing art. I’m sorry. Forgive me, Mr. Koons; my sons love you.)

C.J. made me take a picture of the sculpture from every angle and asked if he could have it for his room. I said no and crushed his dreams.

When we entered the next room, C.J. lost his breath. There before him was an honest to goodness Andy Warhol work of art. It was Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can (Clam Chowder – Manhattan Style). It looks like a painting of a soup can. (Maybe I’m not so bad at describing art after all.)

IMG_8574C.J. is obsessed with Andy Warhol. Things C.J. wants to be when he grows up in order of preference: Andy Warhol, an artist, a makeup artist.

He made me take forty-eleven pictures of him in front of the soup can and all the other Warhols.

Then, C.J. made me take a picture of Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell by John Baldessari because, after all, C.J. is an artist and wants to sell. (His New Year’s resolution is to become a working artist who gets paid. When I said maybe his resolution should be to memorize his multiplication tables he rolled his eyes.)

IMG_8577C.J. was also super excited to see originals by another of his favorite artists, Keith Haring. He noticed that Haring’s works had “lots of boobs and private parts” in them and assured me that he’s not going to draw or paint private parts until he’s a little older. Like maybe fifth grade.

As we walked through one room, C.J. nonchalantly (and embarrassingly) pointed to three paintings by one artist and said, “I could paint that. I could paint that. I could paint that.”

“Yeah. But you didn’t,” Uncle Michael said to him before I could think of what to say. Sometimes Uncle Michael is better at dealing with C.J.’s sassiness than I am. (Because Uncle Michael can be just as sassy.)

IMG_8622C.J. believed that Andy Warhol’s works would be his favorites in The Broad, until he arrived in Takashi Murakami’s room.

“O.M.G. Take a picture of EVERYTHING!” he said. I did as I was instructed and filled up my entire camera roll.

“I’m going to have my art in that museum someday,” C.J. said as we left. I told him that that would be awesome.

“I’m going to have my birthday party at The Broad,” he said. I told him that wasn’t true.

He’s been creating more art than ever since that day. He’s been mixing and naming his own paint colors. He adds baby powder to some paint to give it texture and smell. (Is that a brilliant idea or a horrible idea? I have no idea.) And he painted a Campbell’s Tomato Soup Can for Uncle Michael as a reminder of that special day.

***C.J. plans on live-tweeting/facebooking his thoughts on the red carpet looks of the 2016 Golden Globes (this Sunday). Tune in. I apologize in advance for what may come out of his mouth. #CJsays

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C.J.’s Christmas Wish List 2015

CJ SantaA life-size stuffed animal giraffe (Yes, he still wants this. No, he’s not getting it.)

The American Girl Doll Bitty Baby with red hair and green eyes to match his (He might be getting this.)

A full size, real life arcade claw machine filled with prizes (He says he’s checked around and it’s only $150 installed. I do not believe him. I do not know who he checked with.)

A crop top (We’ve explained countless times that crop tops are allowed if worn over a long layering tank. He is not thrilled with layering in this instance.)

Jeggings with lots of rips in them (I couldn’t find his size all ripped up. He’ll have to settle for a deconstructed wash.)

Gogo boots (Because of course.)

Ballet flats with sparkles and jewels. NOT BORING ONES! (I hope the ones I got are FLASHY enough for him.)

30th Anniversary Strawberry Shortcake (“I like everything ‘old school’.” – C.J.)

A remote control car that his Monster High dolls can ride in (I hope the Monster High kids will ride in a Bratz make and model because that’s all I could find that fit the bill.)

A hover board (No.)

Magnetic earrings (Yes.)

A real or toy white-on-white Range Rover (No.)

Shopkins (Yes.)

A porcupine (No.)

The latest iPhone in rose gold (No.)

A trip to Hawaii (No.)


Whatever you wished for this holiday season, I hope you get it. If the holidays aren’t a happy time for you, hang in there. Let’s all meet up again in 2016!




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How To Annoy Your Brother During A Sleepover


When you’re in middle school, there’s nothing better than a good sleepover – and there’s nothing worse than your pesky, gender nonconforming little brother annoying you during a sleepover.

Chase tries to plan a “Movie Night Sleepover” once every month or two. Last week, the event included two of his best buddies, a soak in the spa, pizza, a viewing of the movie Elf and video games.

IMG_7053When we first discovered that C.J. was gender nonconforming, we’d hide all of the “girl stuff” in our house when Chase had a friend over. A year or two later we refused to hide the “girl stuff” because of what that was teaching our boys, so we would ask Chase if his friends who were coming over knew that C.J. was gender nonconforming – giving Chase the option of telling them beforehand. Now, we don’t bother with any of that. We just answer questions as they come from new guests in our house – surprisingly, few have any questions.

The evening of Chase’s sleepover, his two friends arrived and changed into their trunks to head for the spa. They were putting their clothes in their backpacks and grabbing their towels when C.J. ran down the stairs wearing his favorite swimsuit – the one covered in rainbows and kittens — yelling “Boys! Here I come! I’m ready!”

Chase’s friends chuckled and Chase looked at me annoyed and worried that I’d let C.J. join them in the spa – where C.J. likes to wear his huge pink snorkel goggles and play with his Little Mermaid doll.

When I informed C.J. that he wasn’t going in the spa, but was going with me to pick up the pizzas instead, he was not thrilled.

After they ate a massive amount of pizza, Chase and his friends changed into their loungewear to settle in and watch (talk loudly through) the movie. C.J. promptly ran upstairs and threw on the white, faux-minx robe that he inherited from Nana — which he likes to put on at night after his warm bath and after applying his leave-in conditioner and throwing his hair up in a French twist.

IMG_5844C.J. came flowing into the room like an old-timey movie star in his robe carrying his monster high pillow. He was ready to claim his space on the couch and enjoy his favorite mango green tea in his Frozen cup.

Chase’s friends gave the same chuckle and Chase gave the same annoyed looked.

“C.J., you aren’t going to watch the movie with the guys,” I said as they all stared.

“Why? It’s not inappropriate for me! I’ve already seen it!” he declared dramatically.

Lucky for me (and Chase) I had just purchased Disney’s Inside Out as a surprise for C.J. to watch while we snuggled and ate popcorn in my bed upstairs.

After the movie, Chase and his friends retreated to his room to play video games for a bit. Lots of yelling, banging around and falling ensued behind Chase’s closed door. Apparently that’s how middle school boys play video games.

C.J. kept sneaking to Chase’s door and I caught him writing notes on his favorite fluorescent pink notepad and pushing them under the door. I could only imagine what he was writing.

I told him to stop annoying Chase and his friends and knocked on Chase’s door to retrieve the notes. Even my imagination couldn’t have dreamed up the messages C.J. felt instinctively compelled to send to middle school boys to coax them into interacting with him.

Adele lyrics.


“What did your friends think of C.J.’s rainbow kitty swimsuit, fancy bathrobe and Adele lyrics last night?” I asked Chase the next day.

“Nothing. They have annoying little brothers and sisters, too,” Chase said. And that made me happy. C.J. wasn’t annoying because his gender expression is embarrassing to Chase. He’s annoying because all younger siblings are annoying to their older siblings.

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The Things My Son Is Thankful For

IMG_4475“Do you have anything for me to do?” C.J. asked me in a moment of boredom.

He knows that if he complains that he’s bored I’ll tell him that only boring people can be bored and he’d rather be a lot of things than a boring person.

So, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I had him make a list of the things he is thankful for from A to Z. He included some things that Chase should be thankful for and failed to mention that he was thankful for his mom or dad — proving that parenting is a thankless job.

Things I Am Thankful For
By: C.J., age 8

I am thankful for:

Art and Andy Warhol
Baby smells (but not bees)
Cupcakes and Colorado
Doctors and dolls
Flowers (the video game Fallout 4 for Chase)
Gogo boots and gummy bears
Home (the song Hotline Bling for Chase)
iPhones, because I want one
Knock knock jokes
Late nights
Mashed potatoes and makeup and me
Pinocchio and puzzles
Queens (like the Queen of England but I like Princess Kate better)
Rainbow Brite
Sunsets and smiles
Typing sounds mom makes on her computer and trampolines
Wishes and water and wigs
Texting, because it has an x in it
The letter y (It’s cute and I can’t think of anything else)
Zebra print

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