C.J.’s Brother Chase loves football. He’s been playing flag football for the past four seasons and thinks that he’s ready to make the jump to tackle football with pads (and a much higher registration fee and time commitment). Tackle football makes me nervous, but I’m being told on a weekly basis that it’s uncool for him to play flag football much longer. Tackle football is where it’s at if you are serious about pigskin and/or your social status.
In preparation for this next phase of Chase’s athletic career, we decided that he needs to see tackle football live (not just on TV) so he can fully understand that he will be tackled and expected to tackle someone else. He’s such a kind, gentle, loving soul and I’m afraid that the first time someone knocks him to the ground in an act of aggression it’s going to shock the shit out of him.
Matt found out that our high school alma mater was playing a football game five minutes from our house, so one recent Friday night we loaded in the car, grabbed hamburgers for dinner and headed to the stadium for the game.
“I don’t wanna watch football. Football is soooooo boring,” C.J. complained, slumping his shoulders and walking with dread through the parking lot.
“There will be cheerleaders…” I said.
“I love cheerleaders! Do we have to sit on the grass or is there a place for the audience to sit?” C.J. asked.
“When you watch sports you’re a fan, not an audience, and you sit in the stands or the bleachers.” C.J. has a lot to learn to about sports, but isn’t the least bit interested in learning it.
We walked into the stadium and C.J. saw the cheerleaders instantly. They were standing on boxes with their names written on them.
C.J.: “What’s her name?”
C.J.: “What’s that one’s name?”
C.J.: “What’s the brown-haired girl’s name?”
C.J.: “That’s so many Hannahs! Do you have to be named Hannah to be a cheerleader? Cause my name’s not Hannah.”
I agreed. There were a lot of Hannahs. There were a lot of cheerleaders, period. There were a lot of people. We had a hard time finding seats. I looked around. I leaned over to Matt.
“I think it’s Homecoming,” I said. “Did you plan this as a romantic gesture for your high school sweetheart?” He hadn’t. Whatever.
C.J. watched the freshman, sophomore, junior varsity, varsity and alumni cheerleaders cheer. By the middle of the second quarter he was getting bored. (So was I.)
“Ewwww, what is that costume!?” he said while pointing.
“That’s the uniform that the band wears. That girl is in the band,” I replied.
“Ewwww, that’s so not good. That’s sad,” he said.
I quieted him down. But, he was right. The getups had obviously been selected from the Star Trek-themed pages of the band uniform catalogue.
“I wanna go home,” he complained.
“We can’t leave yet, there is a halftime show and they are going to crown the Homecoming Queen,” I said.
“THERES GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!! YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THERE WAS GOING TO BE A QUEEN!!!” he yelled, causing the two rows in front of us to turn and look.
“WHERE IS SHE?????” he said stretching his head out and around to look for her.
“We don’t know who the queen is yet. They are going to bring out the princesses and then announce which one was picked to be the queen,” I whispered into his ear.
“THERE ARE PRINCESSES TOO!!!!!” he yelled. Again the rows turned to look at us. He was nearly shaking with excitement.
The Dr. Seuss halftime show started. Apparently it was Homecoming in Whoville. There were small skits, dance routines and then the five princesses were loaded into a horse-drawn carriage and were making their way on the track around the football field towards us.
“HERE THEY COME. THEY’RE COMING!!!!” C.J. was losing his freaking mind.
The princesses took to the stage one at a time as their long list of accomplishments was read. One had, like, a 4.75 G.P.A. Is that even possible? I was always stoked to have above a 3.0.
Each princess was stationed in front of a gift-wrapped box. Each box contained a helium balloon and whomever’s balloon had a red paper heart attached to it was the queen. Simultaneously, the princesses started to slowly lift the lids off of their boxes.
C.J. had is hands clasped together and held up to his heart. He was holding his breath. There were princesses, gift boxes, balloons and hearts. C.J. could not have been more in his element.
The girl on the far left won. It was a beauty pageant moment. She brought her hands to her mouth in shock. She had a surprised-Taylor-Swift face. The crown was placed atop her shiny dark hair and a cape was draped on her slender shoulders.
“SHE CAN’T WIN!!!!!! SHE DOESN’T HAVE THE BEST DRESS!!!! THE GIRL OVER THERE WITH THE PINK GLITTER DRESS SHOULD BE THE QUEEN!!!!!”
C.J. was on his feet pointing firmly to the girl who – in his humble opinion – should be the Homecoming Queen. The two rows in front of us turned to look again. I was hoping that a smile would hide my embarrassment.
I tried to explain to C.J. that the Homecoming Queen is supposed to win based on her achievements, not her dress. He argued that that was stupid and that it should be based on her dress.
“Are you ready to go?” Matt asked me.
We started to make our way down the stadium steps.
“We’ll see you all in the gym for the 2013 Homecoming Dance!” the football announcer said over the loud speaker.
“YAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!! WE GET TO GO TO A DANCE!!!!!! IS IT TONIGHT? WHAT GYM? LA FITNESS WHERE YOU WORK OUT, MOMMY?”
“No, baby, it’s at the high school gym and it’s only for the teenagers.”
“But that man just invited me and I can wear one of my dresses…”
“You can’t go until you’re in high school,” I said exhausted by the endless questions.
“I already know what dress I’ll wear,” he said.
“Of course you do.”
Couldn’t it be he just found the cheerleaders and princesses hot? Or is he only aloud to want to be them?
I just got referred to your blog when I was looking for parental support groups for parents of gender-nonconforming kids (a term I only just heard today). As I was reading your blog, I could see my son saying so much of what CJ is saying. He’s a nonconformist as well. I’m not always sure the right way to parent him, but who’s ever sure about such things anyway. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever absolutely sure that they’re parenting the “right” way is probably doing it wrong.
My son loves princesses and queens, dancing ballet, fashion design, but also loves Legos and superheroes. He refuses to be defined by his gender. He’s defined by him. He’s never met another little boy like him, so I admit I’m jealous of the opportunities you’ve had for your son. I hope now I’ve found out about the blogs and parent communities, I can help him make some friends who understand. And maybe I can find some parents who know where I’m coming from and give me some advice :).
wow! I just read this and realized it was about the high school I just graduated from last year. What a coincidence 🙂
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CJ’s reactions are priceless! And definitely want to hear what Chase thinks about tackling people! 🙂
I purchased your book, not too long ago. And I am taking my time reading it because I love it so much! But I am glad that I have found your blog and can continue to read about you and your family. PS you guys are a great family!!
This is just hilarious. Would that we all had so much energy and enthusiasm for something! I feel your exhaustion from the endless questions, and encourage you to keep field them, because when he’s a teen he may not feel so free to ask them anymore. Thanks for the enjoyable read.
I love reading about C.J. He reminds me so much of my young trans daughter. Your blog inspired me to start my own chronicle of life with a young gender-nonconforming child. Some of your readers might want to check out my blog about life with a five-year-old trans daughter: http://www.gendermom.com
Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful family with the rest of us.
I love CJ! I’m not sure he can possibly own a dress now that will still fit him in high school, though… but you better not tell him that or he might want to start getting a head start on looking for one!
(Happy belated birthday!)
I, too, would love to hear what Chase thought of football.
Bean so far is obsessed with ballet but has also expressed interest in hockey, which is a pretty violent and extraordinarily expensive sport to get into if you’re serious about it. I’m selfishly hoping he’ll decide dancing is more his thing, because those classes tend to be held later in the day. Anything involving an ice rink means waking up at 5am for rink time at 6am, even on weekends. It is our national sport (apart from Lacrosse), so I suppose if he decides he really wants to play, we’ll make it happen.
It sounds like so much fun to hang out with CJ. Your family is awesome!
Great post! What a cutie!
CJ’s enthusiasm is truly wonderful.
He is spot on about the band uniforms. I hated ours in high school.
I love CJ’s enthusiasm for life. It’s amazing to see the world through his eyes and what you share with us. I hope that someday, he gets to be a Homecoming Princess or Queen if that is what he wants.
But, I also have to ask what Chase thought about the tackle football.
Adorable! I echo what someone said above about the colorguard.
Thank you for sharing your story. I just started following you. I’ve read some of your past blogs and posts. Everything you’ve shared sounds a lot like our story but our child who is 13 now came out this year after watching a show about transgender children. Your blog helps many parents like ourselves to not feel alone in this journey. Thank you.
Best line : “C.J. was losing his freaking mind.” I so, so, so LOVE this post. C.J. is just so precious. I Love his enthusiasm for what he likes, as well as his discernment over what is not his style.
This is a bit random… My son’s name is also Chase!! Such a beautiful & rare name! 🙂
I just love CJ to pieces! You are an amazing mom and I’m proud of you for allowing him to be himself! Thank you for sharing! =)
I wonder if you, or any of your wonderful readers, could suggest titles of kids books that knock the gender binary a bit. I am not thinking of something like ‘Princess Boy’, which is great for its ‘you are ok’ message. I am thinking of picture books for a kid who so far hasn’t faced any ‘you are not ok’ messages, but may. Books where a kid in the story is gender non-conforming but the story is a story and that is just one aspect of a character… Does that exist?
I am curious too.
Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tommie DePeola. A great story with a wonderful message. Don’t let the tittle fool you. Also the Sissy Duckling by Harvey Firestein.
This post made me laugh out loud – thanks for the fun start to the day. I would have been bored until the princesses came out too.
Love CJs attitude though I hope he comes to appreciate the GPA as well as the fashion savvy. Lol. What did Chase think of the game and all the pagentry?
I could see this all playing out in my mind…thank you 🙂 I hope that one day soon, your community will be like mine and allow same-sex kings and queens….
Aww. So cute.
I love this story; it just made me laugh and laugh. I do want to know what Chase decided about tackle football as well!
I completely understood CJ’s attitude toward the game. I was in theater in high school and we attended all of the football games because one of our ways to raise money for the theater department was that we sold the football programs. I loved going to the games, not for the football at all (like CJ), but more for the pageantry of it all (this was Texas high school football, after all).
In Texas in the ’80s as a young gay man (although I hadn’t realized I was gay yet), I somehow knew to keep my mouth shut that the cheerleaders and half-time shows were more exciting to me than the actual game. Well, that and the fact that one of my best friends was the hunky quarterback (who I thought was just a really cool guy at the time and I did not understand that I had a crush on him), so I often got to hang out on the sidelines with the team.
It was a great time in my life and I remember it fondly. I’m sending up a little prayer for CJ and Chase both that their high school experiences will be amazing, too!
I adore your family and love the stories you share. Thanks, once again!
(And the good news is, college is even better than high school. I actually ended up dating my quarterback friend from high school, as he turned out to be bisexual!)
Although the band uniforms might leave C.J. cold, he should check into the color guard! Boys AND girls are involved and it means wearing a sparkly costume, twirling flags, rifles or batons and a bit of dancing sometimes. Seriously, take him to a college game where he can be up close and personal with a color guard. Their costumes are the most sparkly ever!
Aw C.J. You remind me so much of my son ( who is now 29) when he was growing up. What a great story. And yes, what did Chase thing about tackle football?
Having watched part of the documentary on concussions in the NFL, I’m wincing at the thought of Chase playing tackle football. Here’s a link: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/ I too am wondering what he thought. (I’m glad CJ enjoyed himself in the end.)
This story made my day 🙂
Don’t hesitate to drag your feet as much as posible before letting your older child play tackle football. Watch “A League of Denial, ” it was on Frontline(PBS) last week. A neurologist on the show says he would not let children under 14 play football … They are beginning to find suspected chronic brain damage in players as young as high school ..
What a great idea! Take him to homecoming game! My son would love both the dresses and the football!
My heart fills with love for your family. And I shudder at the “looks.”
This story is funny as heck.
Beautiful last line.
Omg…his complete outrage about the winner had me laughing like a loon! He is too precious. You will be telling that story at family gatherings for years!
OMG! Can C.J. Get ant cuter?!! He so much reminds me of my son
OMG. Thank you, thank you, for such honesty and insight.love to you all, and especially to you for letting CJ be CJ. You are amazing.
Gah! But what did Chase think of tackle football?!
Got to admit I was wondering that too!
Third for Chase’s verdict.