As I’ve written over the years, birthdays can be tricky when the birthday boy/girl is gender creative. Take C.J.’s last birthday for example; he had a Valentine’s-Day-themed-crafty-dress-up-party, wore a pink tutu and tiara and had nothing but “girl stuff” on his wish list.
My annual struggle always shows up right on time. Do I warn parents that my son will be presenting as a girl? Do I inform gift givers that he doesn’t like “boy toys?” You’d think I’d have the answers by now. But, I don’t.
I’ve talked with enough moms of gender creative kids to know that these are issues that most of us have stressed over and try to handle as delicately and directly as possible. I’ve often wondered what’s the best way to handle these birthday party dilemmas?
Then, C.J. received an invitation to his friend T.L.’s Arabian Nights themed eighth birthday party. T.L. is gender nonconforming too.
When C.J. learned that he had mail, he hopped up and down trying to peek inside the mailbox. When he learned that it was an invitation to a party, he ripped the envelope and yanked out the invite. When he saw that the party invitation was decorated with colorful feathers and rhinestones he nearly lost his mind. He squealed, held the invitation tight to his heart, closed his eyes and smiled as he ran in place.
When I finally pried the invite out of his hands to read for myself, it was my turn to be over-the-top happy. All because of this disclaimer that T.L.’s Mom had included at the bottom.
A Quick Note to Our New Friends:
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure to really get to know our fabulous T.L., he likes things that might traditionally be considered just for girls. When shopping for a gift anything that you would normally get for an eight year old girl, T.L will love! Oh yeah, and if you’re not comfortable with an eight year old boy in a dress…you might want to sit this one out. 🙂
I immediately texted T.L.’s mom to RSVP and tell her what a fierce mama she is. Later that night, when I showed the invite to C.J.’s Dad he made me text T.L.’s Mom again to let her know that he thinks that she’s pretty rockin’ awesome too.
In houses around town I pictured T.L.’s classmates getting the same invitation. I pictured other parents reading the disclaimer and having a range of emotions. I hope that some of them realized how brave T.L. and his Mom are. It’s easy to see that they are fabulous. Their bravery is less flashy but deserves the most credit.
You and TL’s mom are BOTH fierce! Wonderful! You have a delightful way of presenting what some may think as uncomfortable information in a very warm and natural manner. Very enjoyable! Thanks for blogging, and thanks for following mine.
Hey guys if any of your kids get bullied or get bullied because of their sexual orienation then check out my blog bulliessuckvictimshurt.wordpress.com and if you need advice post as a comment on one of my blogs and I will get back to you ASAP
So sweet. There’s so much love in how you write about your child, and clearly you have fabulous friends and allies.
Have you seen these tutu costumes on Etsy? This woman makes super frilly, tutu costumes, and a few of them are Monster High themed… I saw it and thought of you and CJ
It’s amazing how a smiley face nowadays, in the right context, is really saying “so fuck off!” I’m so happy to see this! I hope CJ has a fabulous time!
Great post! And happy birthday C.J.!
I’ve just read your entire blog in less than 48 hours, and I think you and your family are brilliant! I teach children with special needs, so am fortunate enough to meet children and families who do not conform to societies ‘norms’ and expectations on a daily basis, and I wish all my families had your strength. CJ and his brother are so lucky to have such amazing parents, thank you for sharing your story with the world!
Totally, “Love my kid the way my kid is, or just stay home!”
Reblogged this on Sleeps with fists and commented:
Hey poly sis! I really enjoy reading this blogger and am following her. Some of the things she shares gives me faith in humanity. Xoxoxo
I think you all are rockin’ awesome too 🙂
I think all the hearts of all the parents in the world just got bigger because this mom showed us all how it’s done.
that is hands down the best party invitation I have ever seen! I want to be invited as well! 🙂 And incredibly courageous! 🙂
I love the disclaimer, and I think both you and T.L.’s mom are equally thoughtful and creative for your fabulous kids. I admire your courage and love to read his amazing stories, keep in mind people are a bit more accepting then you might think….
And in passing this disclaimer on, you’e just helped me figure out exactly what to write on my son’s birthday invites! He’s a couple years younger and goes back and forth between “boy” and “girl” at this point, but it will definitely make it easier.
That is fabulous! Love the invitation and the note and I love the courage it took them to do that. Good job!
Purely Amazing!!! I nearly cried. You will both have a fantastic time with this, I just know it.
How wonderful. I get all teary eyed with happiness, thank you yet again for sharing.
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Fantastic, T.L.’s mom! What a great way to help people own their own biases.
We are going to be in a larger school next year than his small, nurturing private kindergarten, and I am bracing myself for the first round of party invitations next June (after Xander completes first grade). This disclaimer is great and I plan to shamelessly plagiarize it.
We and our son are blessed to have many great friends who didn’t bat an eyelash when our five year old emerged from his room in a princess gown during our Oscar party. Several complimented him effusively and genuinely.
One of his friends, a six year old boy who is pretty rigid about his gender boundaries and ambivalent about Xander’s preferences, felt uncomfortable and showed it. Though he now solicitously offers Xander pink crayons (after lots of discussions about how Xander loves pink and sparkles and My Little Pony), he told me that he couldn’t play with the all the kids while Xander was in a dress. I asked why, and he said “Too many princesses!” (There were four girls in party dresses playing with Xander, and one boy in jeans and a sweater who he may not have spotted initially.)
After an hour or so of this other boy being progressively more bored with the adults, and watching him peek into the kids’ play area for the umpteenth time, I pulled Xander aside. I told him how much I loved his dress and knew he did too, and asked if, as a good host, he might consider changing out of his dress and playing with his uncomfortable friend, just for a little while, and that we’d talk more to his friend about it during our next playdate to help him understand. I told him that while we get to be who we are and our true friends understand and support us, that his friend was working very hard to try, but wasn’t there yet. And I told him it was his choice, but I wanted him to know how his friend was feeling.
My sweet kiddo listened, nodded, blew past me, walked right up to his friend, and said “I know you don’t feel okay about me wearing a dress right now, but I really love this dress and I want to keep it on. And I’m your friend and I want you to come play with us. It’s not a big deal.” His friend shrugged, and said “I’m okay up here [with the adults]. Maybe later.” My heart was bursting. And about ten minutes later, I asked the friend to bring something down to the other kids. He stayed and played happily for the rest of the party.
I guess based on this experience, my addendum to the disclaimer would be–“but we’d love it if you came to the party anyway.”
I just did the ugly cry reading your response. It’s hard enough teaching or non-gender conforming kiddos to be comfortable with themselves, but to be gracious even to those not yet accepting of them – wow. What a mom you are!
How brilliant and subtle of you! Dealing with good people who are our friends and still have some things to learn might even be harder sometimes than addressing the really mean haters.
IMHO, this is what separates the confused from the haters. A simple statement explaining the situation to avoid embarassing or confusing other kids and parents. Anyone that has a problem with this invitation after that. . . see ya.
Awesome. And anyone who doesn’t come is just missing out.
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That disclaimer is fantastic! Much kudos to parents like you and TL’s!
Very fantastic! Kudos to TL and TL’s fierce mama! 🙂 This makes me SO much appier than the post about the family photos where CJ went for the photo dressed as a boy. To be brutally honest, THAT post made me so sad for him (because it made me assume thoughts I have no way of knowing if you actually had, thoughts that you would want the family photo to show a ‘normal’ gender-conforming child) that I almost unsubscribed. THIS, however, makes up for it. Now use a similar disclaimer on CJ’s party this year, and let the fabulousity commence!
I just want to say I’m so glad that your blog randomly popped up. My son is gender nonconforming as well, but most of the people around my family and I, especially the town I live in, discriminate against us. My son loves a lot of the things your son does and they are the same age. Is your son in kindergarten yet? Mine starts in the fall and I’m worried about how his teachers and classmates will treat him.
Oh wow, did you find the right blog! And there are more out there. Just read back through the older posts. I’ve been following – and loving – CJ’s family for a while now. He started kindergarten last fall, so if you look back to then and before, you’ll see what they faced and how they dealt with it. This blog has created a really loving, supportive community for families who have gender creative kids. Stick around!
That is some KICK ASS mama fierceness right there. I love that she was able to keep it quick and light and informative without a hugely long discussion. Perfectly succinct and to the point!
That is awesome!!
what a great way to just put it out there. like most secrets we all have, the ones we’re so worried someone will find out and will reject us for it, so we think, the minute it hits the light is the minute we find it to dissipate its power over us. we can then move on knowing who really loves and accepts us and those who were not worth the time we spent worrying about their acceptance.
@Dawn Conti, I don’t know about T.L., but C.J. identifies as a boy. Just because he likes ‘girl’ stuff, it doesn’t actually make him a girl. I think that unless C.J. actually asks to be referred to using feminine pronouns, it would be wrong to make that assumption. Just as we don’t assume he’s gay.
Anyway, I think T.L.’s mom has found the answer. Tell them straight and let them decide how to handle it, but via the invitation so it’s not awkward for anyone. T.L. won’t have to suffer any embarrassment from narrow-minded bigots and will receive fabulous gifts!
That’s a fantastic disclaimer!
and YOUR invitation is just going to bolster your community’s awareness that gender non-conformity is in the house! A one two thing! reinforcement! Normalizing! This is what changes society; people like TL’s mom and yourself doing their normal lives in the way that they are made by nature.
That is just so awesome. I tend to call a spade a spade and tell it how it is. So, you don’t like my boy in a dress? Then you can eff right off. lol That would be me, but of course, you have to be a bit more subtle than that, which is what T.J.s mum has done, which is soooo good. I hope that CJ and TJ become great friends and have each other for support as well as their wonderful families who provide encouragement and positivity.
I can’t wait to hear how many kids came/come to C.J.’s friends’ party. I admire his mother SO much. The more people are willing to stand up in public, the better things will become. I LOVE reading your blog and hearing about all these issues that come up!
This is great. She handled it perfectly. “Take it or leave it”! Perfect attitude to celebrate the child, without worrying about others. Cause it’s all about the birthday!!
How wonderful that CJ has friends like him. Right on.
Sounds like the party will be a great, memorable time for all. CJ will be so happy.
By the way, one year food/fruit flavored lip balms worked out well as the birthday party favor. Another year, there were paper gold crowns for every guest decorated with plastic jewels; everyone was greeted and treated like visiting royalty. Yet another year was a ghost-themed indoor camping sleep-over party with everyone getting a little book on how to make shadow puppets, indoor camping tents set up, and the use of flashlights and the reading of scary ghost stories. Another year a spa birthday party complete with homemade sugar/salt rubs, aromatherapy options, masques, cucumber slices/fresh tea bags (for refreshing the eyes), brief meditation/yoga session, and many color options in fingernail polish. Make your own pizzas for food one year, make your own hobo dinners another year. I get exhausted thinking back on the pursuit of fresh party ideas.
I love your party themes, and making the party an immersive experience for the kiddos without spending a ton.
But…waaait a minute. Hobo dinners? Because homelessness is a cute party idea? Or does hobo dinners mean something different in different parts of the country? I’m honestly asking, because food insecurity is a very real problem right now. http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm
Okay… sorry… jumping off my soapbox now…
Having been food insecure a few times in my life I totally agree. But in this case I think Hobo Dinner are camping dinners. You take meat and/or veggies; season to taste; wrap them in tin foil and cook it over an open flame. Fun for kids because they get to prep their own food and watch it get set on fire. =)
Be who we are and let the rest of them be who they are too. I love it. You are a dang amazing family and you have some great friends. I hope the party’s a blast for all the kids.
Let us know how the party went – awesome!
That is wonderful, please tell us all the details of the party. I would love to know how it went.
I love TL’s Mom’s attitude!! I think I would do the same and just say it how it is. I hope all is fabulous for everyone.
I love it! Hey, throw it out there and if they don’t love you for who you are then move along! Damn, your son’s reaction to this invitation is making me smile like a ninny still. Gotta love kids.
To c.j. and t.l…. May god bless both of you and your parents for their level of understanding… This was not the case back in my day.. To those of you who would wish ANY negativity to these children ,all I can say is shame on you The one suggestion That I would make though, is maybe you- all should be refering to those children as SHE from now on… I believe that is probably WHO they are. again,,,Bless all of you…GOD made you..You are loved…spread the love,with all of your heart..You may write to me..I am a mom…
………….And that’s how its done!!!!!!
They love and accept who their child is and that’s all that really matters…
For those who don’t wanna play along ~ No worries……. Live and Let Live…. Those who do or want to get it will – the rest simply do not matter!
HAVE A BIG OLD SPARKLY BLAST @ YOUR FRINED’S PARTY CJ!!!!!!!
Liking this, as always!
This is so very very wonderful. Rock on mamas! And I KNOW CJ will have an amazing time at TL’s party.
What an awesome Mom, theme idea and a gorgeous invitation. No wonder CJ swooned!
LOVE * LOVE * LOVE
That is AWESOME! I hope the party is fabulous!
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Love the disclaimer…