…Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.
I have gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something more in-depth about my sweet boy and his choice of Halloween costume. Or more specifically, the reactions to it. I figure if I’m still irked by it a few days later, I may as well go ahead and post my thoughts.
Here are the facts that lead up to my story:
- My son is 5 and goes to a church preschool.
- He has loved Scooby Doo since developing the ability and attention span to sit still long enough to watch it.
- Halloween is a holiday and its main focus is wearing a costume.
- My son’s school had the kids dress up, do a little parade, and then change out of costumes for the rest of the party.
- Boo’s best friend is a little girl
- Boo has an older sister
- Boo spends most of his time with me.
- I am a woman.
- I am Boo’s mother, not you.
So a few weeks before Halloween, Boo decides he wants to be Daphne from Scooby Doo, along with his best friend E. He had dressed as Scooby a couple of years ago. I was hesitant to make the purchase, not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds. After requesting a couple of more times, I said sure and placed the order. He flipped out when it arrived. It was perfect.
As we got closer to the actual day, he started to hem and haw about it. After some discussion it comes out that he is afraid people will laugh at him. I pointed out that some people will because it is a cute and clever costume. He insists their laughter would be of the ‘making fun’ kind. I blow it off. Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?
Then the big day arrived. We get dressed up. We drop Squirt at his preschool and head over to my five-year-old’s school. Boo doesn’t want to get out of the car. He’s afraid of what people will say and do to him. I convince him to go inside. He halts at the door. He’s visibly nervous. I chalk it up to him being a bit of a worrier in general. Seriously, WHO WOULD MAKE FUN OF A CHILD IN A COSTUME ON HALLOWEEN? So he walks in. And there were several friends of mine that knew what he was wearing that smiled and waved and gave him high-fives. We walk down the hall to where his classroom is.
That’s where things went wrong. Two mothers went wide-eyed and made faces as if they smelled decomp. I realize that my son is seeing the same thing I am. So I say, “Doesn’t he look great?”
The title alone should let you know I am obviously in love with these photos: kids and their mom dressed as characters from Star Wars?... Read more
Mom A says in disgust, “Did he ask to be that?!” I say that he sure did as Halloween is the time of year that you can be whatever it is that you want to be. They continue with their nosy, probing questions as to how that was an option and didn’t I try to talk him out of it. Mom B mostly just stood there in shock and dismay.
Mom C approaches. She had been in the main room, saw us walk in, and followed us down the hall to let me know her thoughts. And they were that I should never have ‘allowed’ this and thank God it wasn’t next year when he was in Kindergarten since I would have had to put my foot down and ‘forbidden’ it. To which I calmly replied that I would do no such thing and couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. She continued on and on about how mean children could be and how he would be ridiculed.
My response to that: The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers.
Another mom pointed out that high schools often have Spirit Days where girls dress like boys and vice versa. I mentioned Powderpuff Games where football players dress like cheerleaders and vice versa. Or every frat boy ever in college (Mom A said that her husband was a frat boy and NEVER dressed like a woman.)
But here’s the point, it is none of your damn business.
If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.
If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one.
But it also was heartbreaking to me that my sweet, kind-hearted five year old was right to be worried. He knew that there were people like A, B, and C. And he, at 5, was concerned about how they would perceive him and what would happen to him.
Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’ Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.
It is obvious that I neither abuse nor neglect my children. They are not perfect, but they are learning how to navigate this big, and sometimes cruel, world. I hate that my son had to learn this lesson while standing in front of allegedly Christian women. I hate that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud. I hate that ‘pink’ is still called a girl color and that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.
And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.
I hope I am doing that.
And my little man worked that costume like no other. He rocked that wig, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Comments on My son is gay
i love this story. point blank. bullying is NOT ok.
Way to go mom! Support your son! Everyday there is something in the media about bullying! Stop the madness! These parents need to mind there own business and get life! For goodness sake! He’s a child! Get over it people!
Its hard to be TRAILBLAZER. If you find that life for him is getting harder and harder dont make it him tuff it out, hold his hand and keep him safe.
I can’t believe those moms were so judgmental! Ugh! Children can be reported for bullying, then why not report those moms for bullying you two, eh? Cheers to you and your son for sticking to your guns in the face of absolute madness!
Sarah for Mother of the Year!
Thanks for sharing. There are so many people that need to read these kinds of posts to help expand their horizons and stretch their definition of what’s ‘right’ or ‘normal’. I hope your son will grow to be more confident with his decisions in spite of what others may think. I’m so grateful you’re his mom!
Best line of the whole damn thing: “I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.”
Your little boy is ADORABLE and very lucky to have a mom like you.
PS- I SO want that wig!
I absolutely laughed my ass off at the ninja comment, too! Hilarious!
Go mama, GO!
Stay strong and your son will, too. Come back to this if you ever need support in your convictions- we gotcher back!
I JUST saw this on my WordPress Freshpress bulletin board!
It’s heartbreaking that your son had to experience that reaction from the MOMS, not even so much his classmates. He’s very lucky to have a mom like you and I’m sure he’ll grow up with the confidence to be comfortable with who he is.
Brava to you, Sarah, and even more, bravo to your son! He looks great in that costume! 🙂
As a lesbian, I just want to say THANK YOU for this post! My parents raised me the way you’re raising your son (only I went to a Jewish preK) and I’m sure they probably encountered the same opinions. But because of how they raised me and SUPPORTED me, I grew up happy, healthy, and proud of who I am. I’m sure your son will turn out the same because of how you treat him and support him. Loved this post!
That is hands down the best costume I’ve seen this year and I know someone who made a huge sock monkey costume so that’s saying a lot. Your kid-o looks awesome and those moms need to mind their own damn business. I have “concern” for their children and their stifled imaginations. Not yours. your kid will grow up to be confident and happy with who he is.
I was just seeing this for the thousandth time on facebook and thought, “I will check and see if it is on OffbeatMama….” 🙂 Our son is super gentle, dancery, long-haired, and many other things that make him different from our friends’ boys, which people often point out with comments like “He’s so ___X____ for a boy.” I hate that things I generally value– like cooperation instead of competition, or nurturing play– are put in a gender category. So then my choices are: 1. Instill values at cost of making my family “weird” or 2. Encourage bits of “boyness” that make me cringe.
Amen Sister! You go!
First off, your son looks BRILLIANT in that outfit – and check out that smile on his face! I feel very sorry for the children of those vile mothers – I just hope their narrow-minded views don’t get passed down to their kids. If he hasn’t already, your son will soon realise how truly lucky he is to have a mum like you. I hope those who bullied you are thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Keep on loving your boy the way you do – he looks and sounds like a wonderfully happy, well-adjusted kid.
I’m a long time lurker but I just had to post when I read this. I think it is fantastic that your son chose to be Daphne and that you supported him in his decision. You rock! My only wish is that you or someone else tells moms ABC that their reactions are teaching their kids that judging someone they way they did is okay. Down with bullying!
Fantastic; thank you for sharing your experience!
Your poor little boy; I’m glad he was able to rock his costume, and that you were able to let him do that without shame. 😀
Love this! Thank you for sharing. Everything you said was right on. Your kids are so blessed to have an awesome and accepting Mom!
Being the emotional (pregnant) person that I am, this post made me cry. Initially because of the intolerance for anything or anyone “different” in this world. And secondly, because as kiss ass as it sounds, because moms like Sarah are the ones who literally change the world by small small increments every day by simply being a great mom. I strive everyday to be the same kind of mom and shit – its hard already. My youngest is still being grown and my oldest is 19 months. But honestly this post kind of scares me. I mean I thought I had to grade school to start dealing with “grown up issues” such as bullying and stressing self-esteem and identity and here this mom and beautiful little boy is going through this at 5. FIVE! This post is going to be one that stays with me. Great post from a phenomenal mom!
Excellent – he was totally adorable. However, people do get judgmental about women “pretending to be men,” especially where money is concerned. Ask any female engineer or mechanic how often she’s been told she’s a lesbian. But back to your son – if he had dressed as something evil or scary, would the other moms have been worried he will grow up to be evil? Is being gay supposed to be worse than being evil? Kids dress up and pretend at that age. It doesn’t mean anything. Duh.
It’s a different kind of judgment, though, I think. If you look at the way tomboys are treated compared to feminine boys, it’s a world of difference, and it is much more acceptable. (I say this as a somewhat androgynous woman who is in a relationship with a woman who tends to the masculine side of androgynous, for what it’s worth.)
Men in traditionally female roles cop a whole lot more crap, from what I’ve seen. It’s like the quote in that Madonna song – it’s okay to look like a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. Men are strong (according to the thoughts of the small-minded), so it makes some sort of sense that women would want to be like men (although really, we should know our place). On the other hand, a man wanting to be like a weak, weak woman? There must be something WRONG with him.
Really, like so many other things, it all comes back to misogyny.
Karen & Dina, I agree with both of you! I think that after the women’s lib movement, it became PC to allow women to step into less “feminine” roles. However, men haven’t really had an equivalent “movement,” and so I agree that people come down harder on them. So often I feel like people think it is the end of the world if a boy plays with dolls, but if a girl plays with Tonka trucks she is just independent and “not into the princess thing” and that’s fine. It is awful.
However, I still think girls face these issues. It may be ‘PC’ for women to seek out “men’s roles,” but plenty of people still don’t know how to deal with it. I am straight and was a tomboy growing up (and I have since become an engineer), and it prompted a lot of harassment from fellow students and even teachers.
Here is an interesting example from my past. I auditioned for the school play in 4th grade, and though there were many girl parts that I tried out for, I was actually cast in a boy’s part. When I asked my music teacher why I had been cast as a boy, she said “I couldn’t cast you in any of the girl parts, because I just couldn’t picture wearing a dress with curls in your hair.” I was crushed and told her that I didn’t mind wearing dresses at all…they were just not practical for the playground, so that’s why I didn’t wear them to school. She then basically told me that I could take the part I’d been cast in, or not be in the play at all.
So, basically, her actions sent the message that: Wearing a dress == being a girl. You don’t wear a dress, therefore, you are not a girl.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I agree that things are more rough for boys, but its still a hard road for little girls who are tomboys.
way to rock it, little man!
Are other Mom’s really so blunt & rude? I don’t have kids in school yet but this kind of freaks me out. What the heck happened to social skills? Thank God there are people out there like Sarah!
I would like to say no moms are not really that blunt and rude, but there are a lot of them that are. It seems people are broken into three camps (1. voice judgment, 2. judge but don’t voice, and 3. don’t judgment) It sucks that people who voice their judgment do it in the presence of young ones who are still learning from their own parents. It just sucks!
I think you should show your son just how many people on the web think he looks great, in these comments and anywhere else on the web this article has ended up. Show him just how many people who’ve never met him already think he’s amazing, brave and so cool just for being him.
Three mums may have criticised his costume but infinitely more love it
I wholeheartedly agree that those moms were in the wrong when they discussed this with you in front of your son. That certainly doesn’t help matters! Furthermore, I agree that it was none of their business, and they all should have kept their opinions to themselves.
The only thing I’m left wondering at the end of your post is, though: Why does dressing as Daphne make him gay? Was the title of this post purely for shock value, or do you genuinely think he’s gay?
In the first two sentences after the title, she says, “Or not. I don’t care.” I’d say it’s just there to grab eyeballs.
I agree this was a way to grab eyeballs, but I also think it brilliantly plays on the two things that are wrong with the reactions of the bullying moms (which are too typical): 1) People automatically assume that a boy who wants to wear a girl costume must be gay–which is just not true; 2) on the other hand, some little boys who are very interested in girl’s clothes might be gay or transgender–and that should not be a cause for concern anyway! Anyway, I love this post–Sarah is making the world a better place.
But isn’t this perpetuating the problem, though? Her argument is that dressing up on Halloween is an innocent thing, but she’s gone an extrapolated his sexual preference from it, and trumpeted it across the Internet.
That might be an issue if that was what she had done, but I don’t think it is. The very first line is “Or he’s not. I don’t care.” I think the title is a commentary on what others are thinking, not what she herself believes.
If it was just a grab for eyeballs, am I the only one who thinks it’s wrong she did it at her child’s expense? Thousands of people across the world, who have never even met him, are seeing his face with the words “My Son Is Gay” written above them.
Even if we ignore the fact that he’s 5 and probably doesn’t even have sexual preferences yet, shouldn’t it be his choice to out himself?
There is nothing wrong with a boy dressing like a girl character for Halloween and you’re right when you point out that no one would have thought twice if he had been a girl dressing like a male character.
My two year old son has shoulder length hair. He is constantly mistaken for a girl and people criticize me for not cutting his beautiful hair, so I can definitely empathize.
I feel like the outcome of this story was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
IMHO, I think you should be both supportive of your children’s choices, but also realistic with them about the potential consequences of those choices so they are prepared. School kids can be horrible bullies and it requires bravery and courage to ignore them and do your own thing.
thank you for sharing this, my husband and I sat here and cried with sadness that your son already knows the kinds of people there are in the world, and with happiness that he has a mother who will champion his happiness. Thank you thank you.
What a heroic and inspiring mom. I wish my mom had been more like you, Sarah. You know what being a parent is supposed to be all about. I’m inspired by your son’s bravery as well. Here’s hoping your wisdom and common sense rub off on others.