Gender Bender / by Susie Lubell

My son loves earrings. And purses, And wearing princess slippers. He likes wearing barrettes in his hair. Oh and nail polish. He loves to wear nail polish. And I let him do all these things because I can see that it makes him happy. And at the same time I'm very attuned to the language I use surrounding these things. I never say stuff like princess slippers are only for girls. Or that boys don't paint their nails. Or carry gold purses with a cameo of Sleeping Beauty on the side (yes, that's what he picked out with my Disney Store credit). He is who he is so I just let him do his thing. When he plays in the front yard in his Thomas underwear and platform shoes we sometimes get stares, but he doesn't notice and I prefer it like that for now.

A while back I bought him a pair of red clip-on earrings because he was forever bugging me about wanting a pair of earrings. And he just about died when he saw them. But the clip comes off the plastic earring so I end up having to glue them about once a month. And he only wears them a few days a month but today was the day he really REALLY wanted to wear them and he just would not stop bugging me about it. Mommy, can you get the glue gun? Mommy I want you to glue my earrings. Mommy, I have the earring - can you get the clippy part? Mommy the glue gun is ready. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. And before that he'd been bugging me about wanting to drive in my car and could he please call grandma on my phone and he needs a new coat of nail polish. I just about snapped. And I came to understand that it's less about him wanting to act like a woman and more about him wanting to act like a grown-up. I know it's pretend and it's healthy. I know all that. But at a certain point it's just enough. Act like a goddamn kid. Do kid things. I know that dress up is a kid thing but do it with your dress up toy jewelry, not my jewelry. And wear your damn princess slippers and not my work shoes. So I told him as much. Enough. You need to play with your own stuff. With kid stuff. Play with toys. Trucks. Dolls. Princess make-up. I don't care - just be a kid. Because being an adult actually sucks. You have to work. You have to clean the house and pay bills and buy groceries and mow the lawn. Sometimes you have to refinance. And watch what you eat. And dye your hair. So enjoy being a kid! You can run around naked and no one cares. You can sing songs all day long and everyone claps for you when you pee in a toilet and for the love of ginger you could bounce a quarter off your tushy. What I wouldn't give for a tushy like that! Okay maybe the last part of the speech was in my head.

He listened and stopped bugging me for a short while. And I did get around to gluing his earrings which made him endlessly happy. And even happier later when we were at his pal Aidan's birthday party and he saw her dad wearing earrings.

Him: Look Aidan's daddy's a boy and he wears earrings with holes in his ears.
Me: No, Aidan's dad is a grown-up and he wears pierced earrings. And when you're a grown-up you can too.

With all the excitement he let some pee pee escape. So I took him to the bathroom to finish what he started. Indeed his undies were a little wet. Can I just go commando? That's my boy.