When you’re in middle school, there’s nothing better than a good sleepover – and there’s nothing worse than your pesky, gender nonconforming little brother annoying you during a sleepover.
Chase tries to plan a “Movie Night Sleepover” once every month or two. Last week, the event included two of his best buddies, a soak in the spa, pizza, a viewing of the movie Elf and video games.
When we first discovered that C.J. was gender nonconforming, we’d hide all of the “girl stuff” in our house when Chase had a friend over. A year or two later we refused to hide the “girl stuff” because of what that was teaching our boys, so we would ask Chase if his friends who were coming over knew that C.J. was gender nonconforming – giving Chase the option of telling them beforehand. Now, we don’t bother with any of that. We just answer questions as they come from new guests in our house – surprisingly, few have any questions.
The evening of Chase’s sleepover, his two friends arrived and changed into their trunks to head for the spa. They were putting their clothes in their backpacks and grabbing their towels when C.J. ran down the stairs wearing his favorite swimsuit – the one covered in rainbows and kittens — yelling “Boys! Here I come! I’m ready!”
Chase’s friends chuckled and Chase looked at me annoyed and worried that I’d let C.J. join them in the spa – where C.J. likes to wear his huge pink snorkel goggles and play with his Little Mermaid doll.
When I informed C.J. that he wasn’t going in the spa, but was going with me to pick up the pizzas instead, he was not thrilled.
After they ate a massive amount of pizza, Chase and his friends changed into their loungewear to settle in and watch (talk loudly through) the movie. C.J. promptly ran upstairs and threw on the white, faux-minx robe that he inherited from Nana — which he likes to put on at night after his warm bath and after applying his leave-in conditioner and throwing his hair up in a French twist.
C.J. came flowing into the room like an old-timey movie star in his robe carrying his monster high pillow. He was ready to claim his space on the couch and enjoy his favorite mango green tea in his Frozen cup.
Chase’s friends gave the same chuckle and Chase gave the same annoyed looked.
“C.J., you aren’t going to watch the movie with the guys,” I said as they all stared.
“Why? It’s not inappropriate for me! I’ve already seen it!” he declared dramatically.
Lucky for me (and Chase) I had just purchased Disney’s Inside Out as a surprise for C.J. to watch while we snuggled and ate popcorn in my bed upstairs.
After the movie, Chase and his friends retreated to his room to play video games for a bit. Lots of yelling, banging around and falling ensued behind Chase’s closed door. Apparently that’s how middle school boys play video games.
C.J. kept sneaking to Chase’s door and I caught him writing notes on his favorite fluorescent pink notepad and pushing them under the door. I could only imagine what he was writing.
I told him to stop annoying Chase and his friends and knocked on Chase’s door to retrieve the notes. Even my imagination couldn’t have dreamed up the messages C.J. felt instinctively compelled to send to middle school boys to coax them into interacting with him.
“What did your friends think of C.J.’s rainbow kitty swimsuit, fancy bathrobe and Adele lyrics last night?” I asked Chase the next day.
“Nothing. They have annoying little brothers and sisters, too,” Chase said. And that made me happy. C.J. wasn’t annoying because his gender expression is embarrassing to Chase. He’s annoying because all younger siblings are annoying to their older siblings.
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