I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our family has evolved since C.J. swished and flourished into our lives. So, I decided to interview Grandma Colorado via email. I hope her evolution is apparent to you. She went from not knowing what a blog was to being one of Raising My Rainbow’s biggest fans. She knows the blog’s frequent commenters by name. She tells her friends about it when she is playing mahjong at the community center and while doing pilates at the rec center. I’m proud of her evolution…
C.J.‘s Mom: When did you first notice that something was different about C.J.?
Grandma Colorado: When he was about three years old.
Mom: What was different about him?
Grandma: He always had a lego person or a stuffed animal and always wanted to have a conversation with you with your toy. He would always say, “how are you today, what do you want to do today.” He always wanted to be the girl. I would say I’m the girl and he would say I could be a girl or a boy but he was definitely the girl in our conversation.
Mom: Did you think it was a phase at first?
Grandma: I thought he was very bright and just showing individuality. He was always very independent.
Mom: Did him playing with girl toys or dressing up like a girl ever bother you?
Grandma: I thought it was unusual he wanted dolls only and girl toys. I guess I thought he would outgrow it. One of our friends had a neighbor boy who only played with the girls and loved the tea parties and such. He is now married with four children and very happy.
One Christmas C.J. only received boy toys and he was devastated. Our son said it was the worst Christmas ever because C.J. was so angry at Santa and didn’t get anything he wanted. Our son said that would never happen again. That really hit home with us. You don’t want to deprive your children. The toys don’t bother us. The dressing up was a little harder to accept. We worry more about how cruel other children can be. I’m accepting of whatever my child or any other person wants to be.
Mom: Do you or did you ever think we should make him conform?
Grandma: C.J. will be whatever he will be. I don’t think he has a choice. I think you guys have done a wonderful job with C.J. and his brother. We just want our children to be happy and well adjusted.
Mom: Do you think he was born this way? Is it his nature or his nurture?
Grandma: I definitely think he was born this way. I know many gay people who are happy and wonderful with lifetime partners. I don’t think you would choose this lifestyle. There are too many ignorant and cruel people out there. I just worry about his safety and happiness. Children can be so cruel. You can see this already in C.J.‘s neighborhood.
Mom: How has having a child like C.J. in the family changed you?
Grandma: It has made be much more understanding and compassionate for children that don’t fit society’s mold. I feel I have always been very compassionate, but now I am more vocal about it. I stand up for the underdog. Like I said before I have a child in my charity organization that is very gender nonconforming. Now I always point out his pretty headbands and how unique and special he is.
Mom: Do you feel like an unexpected advocate?
Grandma: Most definitely. I am so proud of you as parents and his big brother. I feel Uncle Uncle has made a huge impact on my son over the years. He has helped make him more sensitive and understanding. My daughter-in-love has made a huge impact on our family and we are very blessed to have her in our family.
Mom: What are your biggest fears for C.J., his brother and our family?
Grandma: C.J. is a tiger, but a totally sensitive child. I worry for everyone when he goes to school. I don’t want C.J.’s spirit broken. I want him to be able to stand up to the bullies. I fear for his brother because he is so kind, gentle and an absolute sweetheart. I don’t want him to have to change to protect his brother. I see this happening though and I see no way to change this. I see strong parents that are doing an incredible job. They have a difficult situation, but C.J. couldn’t have better parents picked for this challenge. Our family is there to back you four up. We are all lions circling our cubs.
Mom: How were things for LGBTQ kids when you were working at the local high school?
Grandma: The kids pretty well accepted them. I had an aide named B. who, as a senior, was fine and his family had finally accepted his sexuality. But, in his sophomore year he attempted suicide. As he tells it, it was a lame attempt, more of a plea to get his family to accept him as he was. Apparently it worked because his father was very accepting then and just glad he was alive.
At the other school I transferred to, they had a large gay and lesbian group. They had meetings on campus and were very open about it. I think kids have become more accepting of it and not afraid. At least in the high school level.
Mom: How do you think you would have parented a child like CJ?
Grandma: Certainly not as well as you have. I think I would have been very confused. I probably would have blamed it on myself for my child being like this. I would have wondered what I had done wrong. It would have taken a while to accept. But, then you become supportive and just hope your child is not bullied and hurt along the way.
Mom: What do you think C.J. will be when he grows up?
Grandma: An artist, architect or engineer. He is so exacting and a perfectionist when he colors and draws. I am expecting great things from him. He is so dramatic and artistic he could be in theater also.
Mom: What’s your favorite thing to do with C.J.?
Grandma: Run around and chase and scare him, draw with chalk, color, read to him, play dolls and hike (he has great stamina!).
Mom: Anything else you want my blog readers to know?
Grandma: In closing, I feel like my son and daughter-in-law have done a wonderful job with both of their children. They are lucky to have Uncle Uncle who can share and prepare them for what he has gone through. They have a supportive family that wants to love, share, help
and see their family grow to their highest potential for each individual. We fear for the ignorant people out there who are terrified of anything different. We have two beautiful and totally unique grandchildren. We want their safety, happiness and them to be whatever they want to be.
Love & Blessings,
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I love that your spirit of acceptance and love is spreading to all your family, not just the immediate household 🙂
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Noch eine Linie des Denkens.
Excellent comments Grandma Colorado, we need more people like you to talk to other parents and grandparents about acceptance and love. You are so right when you say that there are so many people out there that gets so terrified of anything different. Thanks for standing up for the underdogs. And yes Grandma Colorado I believe we are born this way and whichever way we are. The safety net for us, the ones that are considered different, are the lions like you that circle us. We need more lions out there to protect their cubs and help the ones that unfortunately don’t have brave lions to stand up for them. Cruelty is always looking for the weakest and unprotected one to attack. In the One-man show that I co-wrote with my husband, we see a little Venezuelan boy (ME) growing up gay in the 80’s and how that sparkling personality is shadowed by bullies. How wonder is that we are changing and evolving, and there will be more space for kids to grow up as themselves, as they are meant to be with the minimum of damaging experiences, just because we were born this way. Love is the answer!
“We are all lions circling our cubs”, what a profound, powerful statement. Go grandma!
That statement made me cry. How I wish my own parents would have “circled our cubs” when I was growing up.
May I borrow grandma Colorado? I want one…
I want to:
l. Hug Grandma Colorado
2. Kiss Grandma Colorado
3. See if she will adopt me….
I have nominated you for The Sunshine Award. Thank you for bringing a little sunshine into my life.
Last night a few teenagers were visiting my daughter. One started to say something, then paused, and another jumped in and said “it’s ok, this house is gay friendly, they’ll just love you how you are!” It was a proud moment for me, and my husband said “I never thought of us as ‘gay-friendly’ I just thought we were kid-friendly.” It’s the same thing, if we wanna show love and support to all the kids who pass through our life, we have to show acceptance to all the different ways they may choice to live theirs…. Thanks for your ever thought provoking posts that keep all of us “sharpening our compassion”.
This is to prepare you for the future. Here’s a list of how we, the adult rainbows, are divided:
Oops, sorry! That’s for C.J.’s mom, not Whitney 😀
CJ is a lucky kiddo, that much is certain. 🙂
Love, compassion and acceptance can be contagious! Lucky boys to be loved by so many.
I love reading this blog. My eldest son is gay and he is very close to his nanna who loves and accepts him and his brother and sister. Thank you for sharing your story and I know that CJ will enjoy having a wonderful relationship with his grandma and grandpa.
Hooray for Grandma Colorado!! CJ is so lucky!
All grandparents should be like this! Thanks to her for sharing her thoughts.
Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! What a spectacular expression of love and support. Way to go Grandma Colorado!
You sound like a wonderful father.
As an RPCV in Colorado – Grandma Colorado – you make me proud!!!! xoxo
Yay to Grandma!
Grandma Colorado, I just want to say, if you’d like to come to Pride in Colorado in a few months, you would be more than welcome. I officially invite you. You are the kind of ally that we love to share our special holiday with. 🙂 Thanks for being grand and it’s refreshing to hear such support from a fellow Coloradoan and reassuring in this somewhat conservative state. Thanks!!
What a wonderful grandma Grandma Colorado is! Everybody needs a grandma who loves and accepts them unconditionally; it’s so sad that so many people don’t. My own mom has become the adopted grandma to a whole group of young gay men, who they frequently tell her how they wish their own grandma had been as supportive as she is. CJ and his brother will grow up knowing that kind of love and support, and it truly is irreplaceable. What lucky boys they are, to have such a great nuclear AND extended family!
How wonderful..Grandma Colorado is amazing..thanks for sharing this interview.
Gramma Colorado, we love you! But you do owe me a box of Kleenex now!
Bravo to Grandma Colorado!
Best.Grandma.Ever!!! (tie w/your Mom, of course!)
Hey there…I’m a regular reader, but a not so regular commenter. Such a great interview with Grandma Colorado. I feel like the older generation is sometimes the least understanding and open minded, at least in my family. How wonderful to hear how accepting and tolerant grandma colorado is! 🙂
Amazing. I feel like my Oma would have been this type of Grandmother had she been given the opportunity. This is also what I aspire to offer my kids and future grandkids. Unconditional love and acceptance.
Grandma, you rock. It is wonderful that you recognize that C.J. is great just the way he is and that you know he was born that way. You don’t try to change him to fit a mold, and you are not embarrassed by his individuality. You are proud of him and your family and are not afraid to “show him off” to your friends. I wish that my son’s paternal grandparents were as knowledgeable, compassionate, and accepting as you are.
Grandma Colorado is a great lady, and smart, too. I love her phrase ‘daugher-in-love’.
Even though I’m not blessed to have a child like C.J. in my life, I do try to challenge preconceptions when I hear them, and encourage others to question why they think the way they do. I often find “thought” was not involved…
Blessings on you and your family, your love is wonderful. You have two great kids! Keep up the good work.
If we could all just apply this to how ‘we’ all treat everyone who is ‘different’. Which…wouldn’t that be all of us? None of us is the same. What a wonderful lesson in learning, and loving, and teaching.
I’m so happy that Grandma and Grandpa are so excepting. My family keeps telling me to tell my son he can’t wear dresses at home. It’s very hard, I would love nothing more for them to just listen and support us. Hopefully we will get there someday. Love to your whole family 🙂
Here are my favorite parts in this blog:
“Mom: How has having a child like C.J. in the family changed you?
Grandma: It has made be much more understanding and compassionate for children that don’t fit society’s mold. I feel I have always been very compassionate, but now I am more vocal about it. I stand up for the underdog.”
That is exactly what this blog has done for me.
“Mom: Do you feel like an unexpected advocate?
Grandma: Most definitely. I am so proud of you as parents and his big brother. I feel Uncle Uncle has made a huge impact on my son over the years. He has helped make him more sensitive and understanding. My daughter-in-love has made a huge impact on our family and we are very blessed to have her in our family.”
LOVE the ‘daughter-in-love’ (gonna steal that when my boys get married…to whoever 😉
I am MOST certainly a new advocate too. My language with my boys have changed. I challenge them (they’re 5 and 8) as to why they think things are for boys or for girls and then give them the info that colors and stuff have NOTHING to do with a person’s gender.
How lucky are you to have UNCLE UNCLE (not yelling…he just deserves all caps 😉 What an amazing role model he is…along with you and CJ’s Dad…and of course the rest of your family.
God Bless and thanks for sharing!
i don’t know you personally, but i have no problem saying i love you, grandma colorado. i’m so glad and also blessed that i have a grandmother just like you in my own life! she has always been one of my biggest influences and also supporters. god bless you!
Some blogs provide links to the first references of “characters.” I’d love to read more about Uncle Uncle, but don’t know where to go.
it’s in the sidebar, easy to miss.
How wonderful, again and again, everything is just wonderful. As an adult rainbow I can tell grandma Colorado that when we have some sort of support, we survive. I had it in the form of a quite amazing school friend. She was enough to get me through all of the difficult years when, as much as I tried to hide my rainbow, it kept peaking out… 😀
Beautiful! I love it. Wish every kid had a grandma like this.
You are truly blessed with an amazing family, it always brings tears to my eyes and hope to my heart when you share stories of your family and how they love and protect each other. May the brightest days of your past be the darkest of your future. All the best.
Wow, this one hit home for me. Not having my grandmother around anymore, i have a feeling she would have been like Grandma Colorado. 🙂 May all grandmas out there love their grandchildren as much as she does.