Two little boys at a park in South Orange County. One is five years old, the other four. Both, with Strawberry Shortcake in one hand, facing each other so that Ms. Shortcake can have a word with her clone. Both boys have a hand on the right hip, head cocked to the right, with total attitude. They are deep in play. I can’t tell what is transpiring between the two Strawberry Shortcakes, but I can tell that my son is in heaven, even though he is acting like a diva. I am pretty much inside the pearly gates too, because it is the first time ever that my son has played with little boy just like him.
I started this blog for three reasons, one of them being to connect with other primary caregivers who are raising a child like mine. John’s Mom found my blog and e-mailed me. And e-mailed me. And e-mailed me. I’m not exactly prompt in replying to e-mails; I get a lot of them. I’m so thankful that John’s Mom was persistent, because, she was right; our lives are so much the same.
John wants the “girl toy” with his Happy Meal at McDonald’s. He loves the Disney Princesses. He likes to slip into his Mary Janes after a long day at preschool. John walked up to us at the park hiding a stuffed animal kitty behind his back. He saw C.J.’s plush Rapunzel doll in full view and the Kitty quickly came out to play.
John is marvelous. He’s a bespectacled, long-lashed tender soul with a mop of long sandy brown hair. He wears the same shoes, but in different colors. He’s a magnet for wonder.
John’s Mom is equally as cool, bless her soul. She rocks worn cowboy boots and a cardigan with eclectic brooches that John plays with when he feels a little shy. She serves organic strawberries and is dead set, like me, on not changing her little boy, just loving him.
John and C.J. both have older brothers who are all boy and Dads who, though they may struggle from time to time, love them completely and now know every Disney Princess and her movie of origin.
John and C.J. play Stawberry Shortcake and Rapunzel, nibble on Disney Princess fruit snacks and go on a discovery hike to look for roly-polys and lady bugs. They are oblivious to looks from other park goers. It’s a first for them, the first time that either boy has played with someone so much like himself.
John’s Mom and I sit on a bench and talk. What are your feelings about your son wearing something girly outside of the house? What do you do when your son wants to have a Pinkalicious themed birthday party? Why is the Rapunzel dress at the Disney Store $50!?
We both struggle to protect our sons, while also trying to set them free. We have to get creative when it comes to birthday parties, judgmental friends and dressing our effeminate sons.
She has tips for me, because she is a year farther along in the adventures in raising an effeminate, fabulous son. She also has warnings. C.J. may start to get embarrassed and withdrawn in the coming year because he may start to realize that he is different. Some of his innocence may fly away as the reality of life creeps in.
We lose track of time. Our two hours together felt like 10 minutes. We gather our things and our sons in a hurried panic. As they drove away, John says to his mom, “I can’t believe C.J. likes princesses! That is so great that he won’t even make fun of me!”
That’s right John. You’re safe with us.
I just discovered your blog and I decided to start at the beginning and read each one. I love them all so far (except the ones about McDonalds – partly because they categorize the toys as “boy toys” and “girl toys”, and partly because McDonalds is just terrible!) but I especially loved this one. I am so happy that C.J. and John were able to play together. I can’t imagine what it must be like for children who are different from the “norm” and don’t have a friend they feel they can be their true self with. It makes me sick to think about the negative comments you may get and the close-minded people that you may encounter in your life. Children are precious and innocent, and they should be celebrated and be allowed to be whoever it is that they want to be. I know that reading your blog only gives me a small snapshot of what life is like for you and your family, and the type of mother you are, but it seems to me that you have a terrific family and I hope that one day I will be the kind of mother you are. I particularly liked when your husband referred to you as a lioness 🙂
The last comment that John made brought tears to my eyes.
You are an amazing parent. The amount of respect I have for you is through the roof.
That comment made me want to cry, too. No kid at age 5 should have to worry about being made fun of.
I love your blog and your stories. C.J. is so lucky and you are so brave to fight this fight, that he may not even be aware of yet. I am proud of you and so inspired. It warms the heart to know that people like you exist.
I am so addicted to your stories. Most of the time I get tears in my eyes because they make me so happy. This post actually made the tears roll down my cheeks (my husband thinks I’m crazy).
Hi-this comment is concerning the Rapunzel dress. I work in a Wal-mart in Oklahoma, and they have that exact dress at my store for $20. In fact, they have a huge amount of Rapunzel merchandise, and dresses for all the other Disney princesses too. It’s on a display near the Toy department. All Wal-marts are generally similar, so it will probably be in the same location at your store.
I cannot express how touch I am by your posts… Even though I am not a mom, and just a girl from Argentina, I feel what you are living is amazing…
Hope you continue bringin light and joy to your son’s life as you have been doing =)
Is the most valuable and precious thing someone can give to his child!!
Lots of love from Argentina!!!
I feel so blessed to have CJ and Uncle Uncle in my life! They make me laugh even when I have had a bad day.
Took CJ to the park today and we played Little Red Riding hood. I was the Big Bad Wolf and we ran around that park and down the slides and he had his new doll he got (he said for being bad). We had fun, but I saw some of the other parents looking at us! I don’t care we had fun and had our lunch, what a great day! I do worry about the time when he will be sad and hide the things he likes.
Thank you for being such a great Mother to my Grandson CJ, I love you Mom
Sweet as always!
that last comment by john was too special. i choked up. i want to share this blog with the whole world.
I am SO glad CJ has found someone who is so much like him! Kudos to John’s mom for being persistant. That is fantastic and you almost made me cry. …..Ok but I only cried a little. I am very happy for the four of you.
I can see the gay romantic comedy now…boys play together as children, lose touch and go away to college, only to reunite in their 20s for a wonderful life together…
I’m a big, tough, butch. So why do I cry when I read of your son? Why did I cry at the other mom’s warning? Why did I cry at John’s comment when they left?
Heck, I cried when I read about the Disney birthday. You’re ruinin’ my reputation, woman!
I wish I could follow these boys to school. I wish I could stand behind them and scowl at all who would even think of teasing. But I know it wouldn’t be good for them. Here’s why:
Seedlings that grow in greenhouses grow too fast and spindly. They have nothing to really force them to be tough. When transplanted out of the climate controlled greenhouse, many don’t make it. What a lot of good gardeners do is they use fans to gently blow against the seedlings. Sometimes this fan is on to blow in that direction, other times another is on blowing in another direction. Or the gardeners routinely go through the greenhouse, using a piece of cardboard to brush against the seedlings, forcing them to toughen up their stems. That’s what you and the other mom are doing for John and CJ. You’re raising them in a protected greenhouse yet you are allowing them to get a little bruised at times, to toughen them up. Yeah, it will hurt (them and you), but in the long run, it will make them stronger.
What a wonderful description! Thanks!
Hurrah! CJ found a kindred spirit and at such a young age! How I would have loved to overhear the “Strawberry Shortcake” discussion between these two! My heart is lifted even further.
SO glad you found someone for CJ and yourself to bond with!!
As a kid who was picked on for being “weird” in her youth (I looked like a boy, couldn’t afford cool clothes and started rockin’ glasses at 3 and braces at 7), I DREAD sending Little Man to school because I know that a certain amount of innocense is stripped away by the “norming” process of peer pressure. I can only imagine that it is worse for boys like CJ and John who are fabulous but considered “weird” by our don’t rock the boat society. John’s last comment was heartbreaking and SO true of many kids who find their “person” after being picked on for being different. I hope that CJ and John can form a lasting friendship!!
And good on ya for always protecting and nurturing your kids’ spirits!
What a sweet story. It’s so nice they they got to meet each other to see that there are indeed all sorts of people in the world and that there are many forms of friendship and support to be found.
It made me sad that John is already realizing that differences are ammunition to some people. As a mom to two young boys myself, that is one of my greatest fears. Innocence is lost so quickly. I’m glad to be raising my kids to embrace differences. I hope it sticks with them.
Oh, what a beautiful story. It really warmed my heart. I am so glad John’s mum persisted. We would love to have a play date with you too, but I think a quick trip from Australia is just a bit far.
We did have a very good playdate on the weekend though, but it was quite accidental and not planned. I was dropping my older son off for a playdate with one of his girlfriends, when the mum asked if I wanted to come in for a cuppa. Anyway, I had my little pink boy (K) with me, and as soon as we walked in the house, he saw the play room decked out with barbies and a myriad of other pink toys. His eyes lit up like christmas morning, and the mum suggest he go in there and have play with the younger sister (yes she knows K’s likes and dislikes). Anyway, he quickly became best friends with the younger sister, and after an hour, still was not ready to leave. So, the mum suggested that he stay too!
2 hours later when my husband went to pick them up, the novelty hadn’t worn off. K and the little sister were still playing together as happily as my older son and the older sister. As a parting gift, the little sister gave K her Ariel doll to look after for a day. If he didn’t love her already, this sealed their friendship forever. Ariel is a massive favourite, and he had only been asking me that morning if he could have one!! Anyway, come Monday morning he was happy to give Ariel a kiss and cuddle goodbye and send her off to school with his big brother to return her.
It was an absolutely beautiful day.
My heart wrenched when I read the comment John made at the end of your post. Your two dear little ones have a right to BE just who they are. I wish there were a way to protect them from those who don’t really mean to harm them by their ignorance and those few who do.
I’m so happy you were successful in finding a good friend for C.J. and one for John as well.