C.J.’s Brother is 10 and he has come out. He is straight.
Months ago we had a family date night. The four of us went out for Chinese food and, then, I needed to walk next door to the grocery store to buy toilet paper. Fun date night, right?
I wasn’t familiar with that particular store and I couldn’t find the toilet paper. I was walking around looking for a needle in the haystack with C.J.’s Brother’s help while C.J. and his Dad were whispering and conspiring about convincing me to buy something great for dessert while we were there. C.J. wanted cupcakes. C.J. always wants cupcakes. My argument that a fortune cookie is dessert wasn’t going to hold up, I could tell.
“Mom, why don’t you just buy these lady toilet papers and let’s go,” C.J.’s Brother yelled at me. He was standing next to an enormous display of on-sale tampons. He was holding a mega box with a tampon for every flow over his head; like a champion racecar driver holding up a gold cup.
“No, baby, I need to find the toilet paper,” I said, trying to ignore the scene.
“Mooooooommmmmmm, just buy this lady toilet paper. We want to go,” C.J.’s Brother said louder, with a hint of nagging. Tampons still hoisted high.
A woman nearby was stifling laughter. By this time, C.J.’s Dad saw what was happening. He quickly went over to C.J.’s Brother, took the box of tampons out of his hands, sat it back on the display, smiled at the lady witness, put his arm around our oldest son and distracted him. I found the toilet paper.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t just buy that lady toilet paper that I found for you,” C.J.’s Brother said. His feelings were a little hurt.
“Because, baby, that isn’t exactly lady toilet paper and, besides, we all need toilet paper,” I said.
“Well, then what are those things anyway? I see them in your bathroom.”
I looked at my husband and he looked it me. I explained what tampons are and what they are for as we paid for our toilet paper and cupcakes and walked back to the car.
C.J.’s Brother cried all the way home. He cried for all the ladies who have ever had their period and for all of the girls he knows who will get their period one day. He ran down the list.
“Do you get a period?”
“Yeah, when she was younger.”
“What about Saige?”
“Not yet, but one day she will.”
“This is just so horrible. I feel so sad for all of you girls,” he said through his tears.
He slept on the news and woke up with more questions. Kids at school had been talking and he had had some puberty and sex-type questions in the past. We had the big, super-detailed sex talk with him.
As we ended our discussion he looked at his dad and me.
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t know how I’ll ever look at you two the same again.” With that, he walked out of our room and I went to Game Stop to buy him the video game he had been coveting. I felt like he deserved a gift for having his world rocked. And, I wanted him to have something to get his mind off of his dad and me having sex.
A few days later C.J.’s Brother was in my bedroom talking to me as I got ready for the day when he mentioned that one of his buddies and a girl from their class were dating. I asked if he was attracted to anyone at school. When I talk to my kids about their current or future attractions, I never assume that they are gay or straight.
“Mom, I’m straight. It’s time you faced the facts,” he said.
“What?” I was shocked by his directness.
“I know what you’re doing. You always leave it open, like I could be gay. But, I’m not,” he said.
I walked over to the bed where he was.
“Okay, but you know that if you were gay or are gay that is totally cool, too, right?” I said.
“Yes, of course, but I’m not.”
“Okay, but if your feelings change….”
“MOM! I’m straight!” he said with firmness, a smile and a shake of his head.
I called my brother.
“C.J.’s Brother came out. He says he’s straight,” I told Uncle Uncle.
“What do you mean ‘he says he’s straight’?” Uncle Uncle said.
“Well, things could change….” I said.
“Babe, he just came out to you. He told you that he is straight. You have to listen to him and work from that for now and acknowledge it and believe it. That’s it. He’s straight. You have to honor that – just like you would if C.J. told you that he was gay. Both of your kids know that you love them and support them and accept them whether they are gay or straight. But, when they tell you like that you have to believe them.”
My brother was right. I want my kids to know that their sexuality would never change the way I feel about them. They can be anywhere on the spectrum of sexuality and still have my unconditional love, acceptance and support. But, when they stake a claim on the spectrum like C.J.’s Brother did, they have to know that I hear them and believe them.
So, my oldest son is going into the fifth grade at the school for gifted students. He has his sights set on becoming a doctor (although, probably not a gynecologist, given how menstruation brings him to tears). He starts a new season of flag football next month. And, he is straight. I am the proud mother of a straight son.
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Don’t change how you ask questions about their love interests. I wish all parents would do so because then all kids would have to “come out” about their sexuality. It would be great if straight kids had to do so too.
Such a lovely story 🙂 Thank you for sharing.
I am sure that you have seen this already floating around Facebook… but I LOVE her explination of “coming out” 🙂 http://www.upworthy.com/a-4-year-old-girl-asked-a-lesbian-if-shes-a-boy-she-responded-the-awesomest-way-possible
Lori, I have read your Blog. I am proud of how you are raising both your boys. I cried reading about how Chase went to buy CJ his own birthday gift. He was happy to support what his brothers likes buying him what CJ would love. That makes Chase a great son, a fine young man and a wonderful big brother.
You have nothing to be sorry about how you asked if Chase thought someone was cute. That was a great way to deal with it. Parents still assume their kids are straight. A mother will ask her son if he thinks any girl is cute. No, your question was not wrong. You can assume a kid is straight or gay and both are wrong.
The only small mistake you made is to doubt Chase knew his sexuality at age 10. No boy would even want to talk about sex with his mother. To talk about his sexual identity even less. That Chase could is a wonderful gift from you. He is straight and he had the courage to be open with you.
I also believe CJ is either gay most likely or straight. I think you should put thoughts of his being transgender in the back of your mind. It seems extremely unlikely from what you wrote. He has always said that he was a boy that likes girls things. You also say he likes being a boy and never voiced that he wanted to be a girl.
You are one of the few people on Earth I honestly respect. I will not say I respect your courage. For that would somehow take away from the sincerity of your being. ‘Cause you are what you are because you are. Not to make some point!
I just simply respect you for being so non-judgemental and for having that beautiful attitude towards life. Your sons would turn out to be great human beings!
I wish this warmth spreads and touches more lives. More power to you lady!
great blog I’m a massive football fan from germany
LOVED this!!! Fabulously-written; funny, touching and heart-felt. She hits it out of the park again! 🙂
As a woman, I appreciate your son’s sympathy. I like him already!
Love this story!!!
Hey, just a note on how he seemed a bit upset about you phrasing attractions in a neutral way. You could have said you do this with everyone as far as you don’t know about their orientation, because it is hurtful for a lot of people to assume that they are straight and it makes a lot of people unwelcome and afraid to be what they are, because most people are assuming all people are straight.
This way maybe he understands its a good thing and can do that with other people as well.
If he doesn’t want to, at least he knows its not all about him, and that this way of asking people is a possibility.
What a wonderful guy CJ’s brother is! This was great! It made me smile from ear to ear!
For everyone’s attention http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-vyktoriah/what-happened-when-my-son-wore-a-pink-headband-to-walmart_b_3696113.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
Say no to bigotry when ever and wherever it happnes.
Brilliant comment about the low chance of him becoming a gyne lol.
I figure you will have more than 200 followers, but regardless yours is one of my favourite blogs so I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. If you are curious about my questions etc then feel free to go look at my page. Otherwise just know that I think yours is great!
This is definitely my quote of the week: “My oldest son is going into the fifth grade at the school for gifted students. He has his sights set on becoming a doctor (although, probably not a gynecologist, given how menstruation brings him to tears). ”
Love reading about your amazing family, thank you so much!
Ahaha, this made me laugh too. Good to know I’m not the only one.
I just reblogged this post on http://strawberryquicksand.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/c-j-s-brother-comes-out/ 🙂
Reblogged this on Strawberryquicksand and commented:
Lori Duron has a lovely son called C.J. who loves all things girly. C.J. is a great kid with some pretty amazing parents who allow and encourage him to be what ever he wants to be. Like all parents should, really. Anyway, C.J. has a younger brother. This post is about how C.J.s younger brother “comes out”. Please enjoy this blog post and if you like it, don’t forget to click “follow”.
That is a sweet story! CJ’s brother sounds like a very kind and sensitive guy.
Relevant, and possibly disturbing (homophobia, violence):
For some reason, when I learned about periods, I didn’t get the whole story. I knew it was going to happen to me so when it did I was not scared but I was totally miserable with cramps. My mom said, “don’t worry, each month it will get easier to deal with (not true) and I was horrified. For some reason, I was under the impression it was a one time event and then I’d be good to go. I remember bursting into tears and yelling “What do you mean EACH MONTH???!!” I still feel that way 😦
This is adorable. And, finally a guy who feels properly sorry for us rather than just saying it’s “not so bad”.
Your little man seems like a leader and he’s lucky to have such amazing supportive parents and extended family. I hope his honor and empathy are a beacon of how his generation (and those that follow) will come to treat women and the LGBTA.
I’ve been waiting for a post like this for a while. If CJ came out and said he was gay you wouldn’t doubt him, but when his brother comes out as straight you do. Why did you doubt CJ’s brother? Both of their sexual orientations could change in due time, thats just part of life, we naturally change over time.
But thank you for the lovely post, and I do hope he has great success at becoming a doctor.
Thank you for that entire post, reading with tears of laughter filling my eyes.
When I was a kid I knew a boy who thought that, by fate, all girls just happened to get an injury on their privates once per month. I guess he had learned the bleeding bit but not much else and filled in the rest of the story on his own!
I’m dying laughing at his reaction to periods. I’m sad for us, too!
Your Talk with Brother makes me think of this book: http://www.autostraddle.com/canadian-childrens-book-explains-how-babies-are-made-in-a-gender-neutral-way-183022/ since I notice you’re not framing periods as something men can potentially get.
Also, I wanted to share this link in my church’s national journal by the mom of a trans child: http://www.friendsjournal.org/we-think-he-might-be-a-boy/ perhaps for your Friday wrap up.
funny poignant and well … lovely
I might be posting this comment just so I can read this line again:
“(given how menstruation brings him to tears)”
I needed the laughs, thank you.
“C.J.’s Brother cried all the way home. He cried for all the ladies who have ever had their period and for all of the girls he knows who will get their period one day. ” AHAHA Too funny ! His girlfriend will be sooo lucky !
The fact that he felt so bad about the whole period thing made my day a little better. My brother is constantly saying that periods ‘can’t be that bad’, but my sister and I get super bad cramps and have… other side effects. CJ’s brother seems like a really sweet kid 🙂
Oh this cheered up my day! Thank you C.J.’s mom and C.J.’s brother. Poor thing. Lady toilet paper. Haha!
A few responses.
1. I am a little concerned that CJs brother is so aware of tension about orientation, and that he seems to possibly think you will need to get a grip to accept his orientation. I saw your tweet imobviouslystilllearning – so that is reassuring to me. But, for real, I hope you will find big celebration for CJs brother. He deserves affirmation and joy for this. Please find many ways to affirm. Start with using female pronouns and inquiring about GIRLS he likes. I think it’s pretty cool that he knows he is straight at 10. Yeah for CJs brother, he’s the star of the show right now.
2. You’re a fine writer with gift for story….. But how exactly did you explain periods and tampons in the checkout line? And such that CJs brother is crying about it? Okay, maybe it is simple. I’m not a mom so not used to saying things at kid level. Hard for me to imagine how this can be explained in checkout line and in short amount of time. Is he crying because periods are just so weird? Does he think it hurts or is scary? (can be both, but ideally not.)
3. “I’ll never look at you the same again”…… SOOOOOOOO classic. Hard to believe he actually said this, it is just so classic and covers so much. Might be worth letting him know that:
–most people do not want to think of their parents having sex, and it is okay not to,
–most people are seriously put off by such an idea (people joke about it.).
–this doesn’t spoil sex though!
It’s a tricky balance. Don’t want kids to feel afraid or repressed, but i also want them to know it is normal to be grossed out. Our culture tends to de-emphasize that part, that sex can be gross. Maybe you can teach CJs brother about asexual people…….(not meant to imply that asexuals are grossed out – but I think of asexuality and grossed-out in similar territory or similar end of spectrum.)
Kids are so busy being interested in sex and curious – but grossed out and put off are normal too.
Addition to #2: another detail of the story, as told, that leaves me guessing and puzzled: do you have your own bathroom? I’m thinking there’s a bathroom attached to mom-and-dads-bedroom. In which case why would tampons be a lady thing based on being in such a bathroom? Could just as easily be a grown-up-mens-thing? Makes no sense, although there are a million ways he could have correctly gotten the idea they are a female thing. Still, the bit about seeing them in “your bathroom” leaves me confused. My mind fills in the gap by imagining an earlier conversation in which you say these are lady-things…….(though I’m certain you didn’t call them lady toilet paper…..)
On the way home in the car, while CJs brother was crying about periods and asking about who has them, what was CJ doing? This sounds like it was quite a dramatic scene…… But you don’t mention any reaction from CJ. Also sounds like dad was not involved in the conversation? I guess I need the movie version. Or maybe I just find it weird to imagine CJs brother having this drama that is so big…..And CJ not noticing?
You and CJs dad are doing a great job. AND if you want help, I think “our whole lives” sexuality education program has been recommended here before. I have not been involved in it but have heard good reviews of it. Here’s orange county UU church youth page: http://ocuuc.org/youth/ . Scroll almost to bottom to find:
Our Whole Lives, Fall 2013 begins for Jr. High age through High School youth. One session will be offered by Fullerton UU for 10th-12th graders, the 6-8th grade session will be offered in collaboration with Tapestry and Long Beach UU Churches.
I hate sounding like I’m advertising, but the youth in my UU church seem to get a huge amount of support and joy from being together. My impression is that UU youth programs are (often) amazing. Just saying. I don’t know how to say anything without sounding pushy. And it really might not be for you, but then again it might be totally great and I can totally imagine that. Including being an amazing source of support for gender non-conformance issues. Just saying. And I have lots more to say about how/why you might love it. And the advertising thing sucks. I both want to tell you all about it AND am horrified by how it sounds. Sigh. Thing is, I know how you love support and want more friends….for you and your kids……..and I bet I know exactly where you can find those. I am so not kidding…. It would be a gift to me if you would ask me any questions you may have, I’d be happy to chat about it, I know the idea that it’s a church can sound super intimidating and morally pushy and all……think of it like a secret support-group for parents and families that are GLBT-affirming and kid-affirming. I think that’s pretty accurate.
My Mom did not have her own bathroom but as a kid I probably asked once what pads were and was told they were my Moms and for adult women, I did not find out for years what they were for. You said you are not a Mom whih explains some of why you think these things are so weird but are you curious or doubting her? As a Mom to two these all seem very realistic and hysterical. And yeah, raising a gender non-conforming kid makes you obsess over it even if you shouldn’t. I seriously doubt CJs brother worries if he will be fully accepted for being straight like CJ could wonder for if he is gay or because of possible future gender identity, except having awesome parents will help him not worry.
[to n’s mom] No, I’m not doubting her, (but there must be another piece leading to “lady toilet paper”). Of course the story is totally believable – typical kind of kid misunderstanding – charming and hysterical. I’m not doubting, but notice gaps in the story. (also I think it is hard to tell this kind of story fully……)
As for CJs brother’s stating his orientation, it does sound like there’s (maybe) some tension about it. Hard to tell from here….. How it compares to if he were gay? Why is that important? What’s important is that he feel comfortable, affirmed, and at ease. (Which maybe he totally does? Or not?)
It’s NOT at all odd to have LOTS of attention and energy directed to CJs gender presentation – not odd at all – necessary….. I understand obsession with gender, presentation, sexual orientation….. Decades worth…..
I’m a fan of CJs mom. Some of my comments may be read as critical? My intent is supportive / friendly. I do find it tricky to try to express admiration and confidence in CJs mom AND concern. I feel at home in her world and at home thinking about CJ and how to advocate for him. (CJs mom is a better advocate than I think I could be and I love that she’s willing to take the trouble & heat that protecting him requires!)
Same with my paragraph about “our whole lives”. That could read like I think she “needs help” or is messing up. I think she’s doing fine AND she sometimes seems to be saying she needs or wants help. Part of how she’s great is that she wonders how to do stuff, wants help, and tries to figure out how to support both kids. That’s not a criticism or a failing, it is a strength.
I apologize if I sound critical. I apologize if I’ve offered unwelcome opinions….I’m sorry if I’m being too familiar….. Could be, I am kind of obsessed with this blog and the whole story….. Kind of part of being “a fan” ? There’s some way that BECAUSE I’m a fan I feel at home or involved enough to say concerns and suggestions….. If that makes sense?
Does that help?
CJ’s reaction to tampons reminds me of my first gynecological exam. I was 16 and (behind her back, because it was that long ago) he and I went to planned parenthood so I could get on birth control. The center made us watch a video on a) contraception, b) venereal disease, and c) what would happen during the gynecological exam. My boyfriend (also 16) walked out of the viewing room white as a sheet, and said “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.” Of all the stuff in the video, the exam (I suspect the speculum) totally intimidated him – and he was willing to postpone our ‘intimacy’ if I didn’t want to go through that. I was unfazed, having heard all this before and having had 2-3 years to get ready/used to the idea. I went into that exam room unspeakably brave in his eyes, and he was clearly humbled with newfound respect for me (and women in general) when I came out.
High Five to CJ’s brother, that’s all I can say. And High Five to you for accepting it. 🙂
The lady toilet paper story is hilarious–though also really touching that CJ’s brother is so empathetic!
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t know how I’ll ever look at you two the same again.” HAHAHA!!!
We recently had a basic chat with our 8yo about things because he had so many questions about how babies were made. After a long pause at the end, he saud, “That is not at all how I thought it happened.”
You are so cute and funny, and your family is too!!! I love your blog!!!!!
I was thirteen before I found out about those female problems. We were going on a Scout picnic and I was sent into the store to buy some napkins. I thought the Sanitary ones were an obvious choice.
CJ’s brother is a wonderful boy. I would be very proud of him too.
I’m not sure whether to laugh or to cry! CJ’s brother, you are very compassionate to cry about periods; don’t worry though, women-kind will be alright 🙂
What a day for him – but its good for him to know all the facts now! I sure wish id been taken aside at age 10 and had sex and periods explained to me.
Congrats to CJ’s brother for coming out!
This is an amazing slice of your life. Your honesty makes you a role model for the rest of us.
CJ’s brother is one of the coolest, most awesome, sweetest person in the whole world! I love how he cried! 🙂
Oh my! This post had me crying with laughter! Poor kid. I’m glad he learned the birds and bees from you though!
I too always told my kids that their sexuality didn’t matter, that I love them unconditionally. I was pleased to discover that, when my children staked their claim, I truly meant it. I wasn’t just saying it, hoping it would be true. Perhaps that sounds odd to some people, but we think we will love our kids unconditionally but you only know with certainty when they share their selves, their true selves, with you. And that is the greatest gift our children can give to us – their trust.
Thank you for sharing your family….it makes us all better people.
learning about periods rocked my world too. glad to know I am not the only one. funny, endearing post.
That part about him vying, it made me laugh.
My boy is 4, I always wonder how he will react to the sex talk when those days come. Nice one today, loved the post.
Erma Bombeck is smiling. A classic, timeless piece of bloggery. Onscreen, this will immortalize the child actor lucky enough to portray C.J.’s brother. I suspect you are only beginning to hit your stride as a writer. How does the title “Executive Producer” sound to you? XXOO
That’s one of the most endearing, funniest things I’ve ever read. It made my heart sing. CJ’s Brother is awesome on so many levels. You are such a blessed family! xoxoxo
I have always said, I think it would be great, because then my son would never leave me for another woman…and we could all go shopping together haha! But he too has informed me he’s going to marry a girl! His sister…lol…so we still have a few kinks to work out but time is on our side! 😉
Reblogged this on Beatz kane Blog.
You have awesome kids!
You had me literally laughing out loud. It was so good that I had to share it with my husband. Our son will be in fifth grade this fall.
I cried about periods when I learned about them too! But thats because I’m a girl and was scared to death. What a sweet boy
Great story! CJ’s brother gets a prize for compassion. He’s going to make a great partner to someone some day. Gay, straight, or whatever he is, he’s a great kid in a great family!
With that sort of compassion, I’ll lay long odds that he’ll be a GREAT doctor too, if that’s what he finally wants to be.
Menstruation brings many people to tears, it’s good at that.
Congratulations on your ten year old being able to firmly state his sexual orientation without fear of judgement.
Oh my gosh…. He just cried about periods. This kid has empathy; he’s going to do all right.
I understand Dan Savage’s son DJ was much older when he came out to his two Dads. Sometimes it’s difficult to process these feelings in your children when they’re still at such a young age. The important thing to remember is, it’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. CJ’s brother was just born that way 🙂
😉 Love this response!
Love this response!!!
This is a fantastic piece that shows the openness that you have with your children. Thank you for sharing it!
Ps I’m with him…the whole period thing is sad 🙂
I never really comment on this blog but I loved this too much not to. That was pretty much the best reaction ever by someone who will never even have a period. Adorable!
hahaha, this is so great.
I never post but I loved this too much not to. Probably the best reaction I have ever heard from someone who will never have a period. Adorable!
Cute story, you’re a riot. Kinda ironic how your family is so open, the kid has to come out as str8… LOL
Thank you for the smile and chuckles. And seriously, thank you for being such an awesome human being and more amazing mom.
As a former foster kid and now a social work grad student, people like you literally make my day. By “people like you” I mean decent, compassionate, and kind human beings.
He would make a great gyn with his empathy for all of us women!
Again, another wonderful blog about a marvelous family and the love they have for each other.