Sunday, June 30, 2013

Daisy Top

I just recently discovered Raising My Rainbow, a beautiful blog run by the mother of a gender nonconforming kid. It's sweet, and funny, and has a lot of great information.

Reading her stories made me remember something from back when I was around sixteen. I was the nanny for a family, and became very close to the kids. One of them was a young boy who I'm going to call Jordan. Jordan was a hard kid to handle, sometimes he got really angry or aggressive, and his moods were more unpredictable than the average six-year-old. It was hard on me as a teenage babysitter, but I was really fond of him too, and wanted understand and empathize with him.

Jordan loved to play elaborate make-believe games, and I loved to play along. I'd done the same thing as a kid, building imaginary worlds and roaming through them. To be honest, I adored getting a chance to be six years old again, playing pretend with no one to judge me. In those games, Jordan was always a girl. I guess I didn't think it was weird, which is unusual considering the homophobic culture I grew up in. Jordan loved being "a baby girl dragon" or "a baby girl dog", and romping around having adventures. Sometimes I was the mom dragon, sometimes I was the kid coming to the pet store to get a puppy, sometimes the puppy got kidnapped because she was magical. One of his favorite "girl" names was Daisy Top. I have no idea where that name came from, but he loved it.

I distinctly remember one of the first times Jordan and I played make-believe. "I'm going to be the mom," Jordan said, "you can be the dad."
It made me laugh, "but Jordan, you can't be the mom."
"Why not?"
"Because you're a boy. Boys aren't moms." I cringe now, thinking of how easily those words came, and how  I didn't give them a second thought.
"But why not?"
"Because..." why not? I was stumped, aside from explaining sex to a six-year-old which I wasn't about to do. "You'll have to ask your mom why not."
I don't think he ever did.

I got to talk to Jordan's older sister recently, and she told us an anecdote about finding out her brother had been wearing her underwear to school between gales of laughter. And I laughed, and I started to wonder.

I'm not around Jordan at all anymore, and I'm not in any place to make definitive assessments of what sort of identity he has. What I do know, is that when I realized Jordan might be gender nonconforming I started to cry. Deep, gut wrenching sobs. Because I know what he's going to face. Because I know he's going to grow up in an atmosphere that could leave him hating himself. Because I told him he couldn't be a mom. Because he has nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. Because when I was told a story about what in all likelihood could be a struggling child trying to express his identity as best he can, I laughed along, rather than standing up for him, because I was too scared of what they would think of me.

So, if there's any way for my thoughts to make their way across the air to find their way to you Jordan, be Daisy if you want to be Daisy. I will never think less of you for being so brave.

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