Caling a blog post 'My Son is Gay' when you are writing about your five-year-old is always going to court controversy, or at least guarantee you a few more hits and readers as word about it gets around. It's one way to increase your online 'popularity' I guess, but probably not going to do your offspring many favours in the playground come break-time. But then when you have already sent him to school dressed as Daphne from Scooby-Doo, perhaps such things don't worry you.
I am referring to the mum, or, 'mom' as this all happened across the pond, who decided to indulge her son's wish to go to his school's Halloween day parade dressed as the feisty female cartoon detective. When he was met with negative comments, jeers and taunts, she blogged about it, including a picture of him in his Daphne-inspired finery. The post generated over three million hits, many of them criticising her actions.
Other bloggers, newspapers and online communities worldwide have been discussing the issue - was the mother 'steering' her son's sexual orientation? Was she just plain cruel? Did she have her own agenda? being just a few of the questions asked.
So we're talking about a five year old infant. A little boy. A child who has, we assume, little concept of sexuality or gender issues. A child who has seen a brightly coloured costume that a character from his favourite show wears, and who he wants to emulate and dress up as.
What's the problem?
When my little boy was five, he often wanted to go to the supermarket naked or in just his pants. Once he put on his cousin's sparkly shoes and wanted to wear them to playgroup. Another time he asked if he could wear lipstick 'like mummy'.
Every time I said no.
Why? Because sometimes, as parents, we have to make decisions for our kids to save their feelings. To stop them being ridiculed. To protect them from the meanness that other children - and indeed adults - can display.
I knew that if my sweet, innocent little boy went to the store in his undercrackers, people would stare and comment. If he had gone to playgroup in girls' shoes other, older children, would have laughed and poked fun at him, ditto if he put on lipstick. I didn't want his innocent feelings crushed. And as the adult, I could control whether or not they were by gently steering him away from his choice and excitedly suggesting something 'better' and 'even more fun' and 'grown up'.
This story isn't one about sexuality, as, despite the provocative blog title, Nerdy Apple Bottom mom goes on to implore. And I agree with her on that score 100%. But what I cannot agree with is her assertion that her little boy should be able to wear what he likes without being poked fun of. We know as parents that, rightly or wrongly, the world isn't like that. I don't think she has made a point for equality, or a call for tolerance or kindness with her actions. I think she has left her child open to ridicule and mockery and caused a situation which could have been totally avoided. 'Yes, Daphne's costume is fabulous - but you know what, I bet everyone will be choosing that - why not go as Scooby instead?' would appease most five-year-olds I know.
But then that's a stance that probably wouldn't generate much blog traffic.
What do you think?
Is Nerdy Apple Bottom mum to blame for the unkind comments directed at her son?
Or was she right to let him dress as Daphne?
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