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Guest shimmeringkristal

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Guest shimmeringkristal

I read this and I couldn't help but cry tears of joy.

Young Sam demands to wear a dress to school, forcing his parents to

make a decision: protect him from ridicule or cultivate his self-

expression?

By Sarah Hoffman

At seven o'clock on a Thursday morning, my 4-year-old son

announced, "I'm going to wear a dress to school today." I froze,

teacup halfway to my lips. I shouldn't have been entirely surprised

by the statement, given Sam's history on the pink side of the dress-

up box, but this time something was different.

The previous weekend, Sam and I had visited his grandma in Malibu.

Looking to cool down after a sunny playground romp, the three of us

had wandered into a high-end children's boutique. While his grandma

and I snickered over rhinestone-encrusted Converse sneakers and $600

infant sweaters, Sam was drawn to a frilly pink sundress. "Can I have

it?" he asked.

I blinked at him. Trying to keep things light, I told Sam the dress

was not his size. He dropped his chin to his chest, big blues fixed

on me. "Well, are there dresses in my size?" he asked shyly. I

paused, trying to decide what to say. "Boys don't wear dresses" came

to mind, but that wasn't true—Sam had always loved trying on his girl

friends' princess costumes. "I'm not going to buy you a $270 dress

from this ridiculous store" also came to mind, but that didn't

address the point—his or mine. He would be asking the same question

about a $7.99 sundress at Target, and I'd still be wondering why my

boy wanted to wear one—and why, really, he couldn't. As I steered him

out of the store, Sam started to weep. "I wish I had a pink dress!"

he wailed.

"But sweetie," I said in my best calm, concerned mommy tone, "you

have two pink dresses. Your princess dress-up costumes are both pink."

"But I want one I can wear to school!"

At 4, Sam has been expressing his preference for pink for half his

life. My husband and I have bought him several pink items that fall

in the sort-of-odd-but-socially acceptable range: pink Converse

sneakers (hold the rhinestones), pink T-shirts, and—our most risqué

to date—a hot pink polo shirt. His grandparents gave him a pair of

pink light-up Skechers that he adores. The dress-up box at home

overflows with pink tulle, lace, and marabou feathers.

But for public appearances, my husband and I realize that certain

things—hair accessories, flowery clothing designs, dresses—are on the

other side of a line we haven't been quite willing to cross, one that

sits right between eccentric-but-cute and is-that-a-boy-wearing-that?

We have tried to find a comfortable place on the near side of the

line where Sam can express himself without inviting ridicule, and we

knew that a pink sundress would go beyond that. But it was starting

to look as if Sam was no longer happy within the narrow parameters

we'd established to protect him.

"Is This a Phase?"

I'd wanted to think that this was just a phase for Sam, but I was

beginning to understand that it was not. My son wanted to wear a

dress—for real, not for dress-up. He wanted to show the other

children in his life, in preschool—the place where he expresses

himself publicly—his true self. The pink-sundress-wearing self. And I

was going to have to figure out what to do.

I am a woman who rarely puts on a skirt or heels, and I was a kid who

preferred overalls to frills. The part of me that thinks outside of

the gender box looks at Sam and thinks he should wear whatever makes

him feel most comfortable and beautiful. And yet ... I am his mother,

and my fiercest urge is to protect him. I know that boys who look and

act like girls get tormented, beaten up, and beaten down. A dress on

a boy feels like an invitation to mockery.

My husband and I didn't know whether Sam was ready to wear a dress to

school—or if we were ready for him to. We wondered if learning to fit

in with the other boys was more important than expressing the real

Sam. Yet we knew that our attempts to steer him toward the masculine

were not working, and that he was becoming increasingly resistant to

wearing boy clothes in general. More important, we knew that denying

his desire to look the way he wants would quash a part of him and

make him unhappy, probably in a more fundamental way than we even

understood.

So I bought him a dress, a $10 pink embroidered sundress from Old

Navy. I did not decide if it would be okay for him to wear it to

school, because I was not ready to decide. I figured he could try it

out at home and see how he felt. How we felt.

Sam's declaration that he would wear the dress to school saved us, in

a way, from having to make a decision. He had already made up his

mind. I warned Sam carefully that if he wore it, he would probably

get teased. He was undeterred, adamant about wearing the dress;

clearly, avoiding teasing was a lower priority for Sam than simply

being himself. I could see that standing up for his choices in a

relatively safe and supportive environment was a useful life lesson.

And it occurred to me that having confidence—being proud of who he

is, even if he's different from other kids—is the best defense

against the inevitable ridicule.

Handling Teasing

So we coached Sam, as best we could, on what to say to the children

at preschool who might tease him. We role-played the kinds of things

he could say back to them. We talked about how much teasing can hurt,

and how teasing is wrong.

At that morning's drop-off, my confidence in Sam moved up a notch

when he announced to his teacher, "Look at my pretty dress! No one is

allowed to make fun of me."

After school, Sam beamed as he reported that his teachers had said

they liked his dress, and the other 4-year-olds had said he looked

pretty. But the kids in the 5-year-old class had teased him and told

him that he was "girly," that "boys can't wear dresses," and that

he "must not be a boy."

"What did you say back?" I asked, hiding my trepidation behind an

encouraging smile.

"I said, 'Don't make fun of me! I can be a boy and wear a dress,

because it is my choice!'"

I couldn't have said it better. I asked Sam how he felt about his day

in a dress, and he said, "I want to wear a dress to school again!"

And how did I feel about the experiment? Well, next week is tie-dye

week at school. The class parent in charge of ordering the clothes (T-

shirts for the boys, dresses for the girls) called to ask if I wanted

a T-shirt or a dress for Sam. Touched by her thoughtfulness, I

thought I would give Sam the same consideration she had, so I let him

decide.

It looks like there will soon be two dresses in Sam's closet.

Link to comment
Guest Michelle M

The child is lucky to have such parents, and to be so expressive at that age. They still have 9 more good years to decide if it's just a phase or if it's truly a case of TS.

Link to comment
Guest Sakura_Stingray

i love pink just like sam.....hated red as a kid...i remember when i was 7 i was wearing a pink balarina leotard with blue stripes across the side that my cousin gave to me...when my mom came home from work i ran up to her and hugged her and she said "do i have a boy or a girl?" i had to think for a second...i realised my mom didnt like me wearing it so i changed...and it wasnt talked about again...i think she forgotten it.

Link to comment
Guest Kelly

my mom didnt care if i wore dresses when i was with friends and she didnt care if i role-played girls...

mostly because all the girls i know role play guys...

but when i came out to being ts... it caught her a little off guard

right now im in a situation where im M2F ... but dont act like a fe/male...

if you looked at me you would see a body (cant tell which gender ... exept voice) walking down the hall wearing sweatpants and a hoodie in differant variety of colors everyday.

alot of people call me genderless... and most dot know if im a guy or a girl because i avoid speaking

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
Guest Andrea-M

There are tears in my eyes,

I wanted to wear plaid skirt to school when I was 4 ..... and would of if my mum would have let me irrespective of ridicule.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
Guest StrandedOutThere

That's amazing! If only all parents didn't try to force their kids to conform! So many people go through life with unnecessary hangups just because they weren't allowed to be themselves. Rigid gender rules hurt everyone.

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