I saw this little boy’s picture circulating around the internet a couple weeks ago, and didn’t think much about it. It appeared, I think, as part of a post on a mom-blog site that I read, but I didn’t read the post. I just kept thinking, “geez, a kid dressed up for Halloween as a girl, what’s the big deal? Get over it already”
But today, it was talked about on the radio, and it turns out that it WAS a big deal. Apparently, there’s a big divide amongst the folks who comment on her site (the comments stand at 41,885 as I write this). One segment of the parents are high-fiving the mom for letting her 5-year old dress as Daphne (from Scooby-Doo), and the other segment is appalled that she would allow him to be seen in public in a pink velvet dress, knee-high “boots”, and a curly orange wig.
Let me just say this: the kid is cute. Wow, is that kid cute. And he makes a darned cute “Daphne”.
When I first heard this hubbub, I thought, “So what? Halloween is for dressing up. Girls dress as boys all the time – I saw a couple girl “Iron Men”, “Batmen”, and “football players” this year, so really, it’s no big deal… a little unusual, maybe, but no big deal.”
And then I read the mom’s account of what happened. From her blog post at Nerdy Applebottom:
… Then as we got closer to the actual day, he stared 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?
And then the big day arrives. We get dressed up. We drop Squirt at his preschool and head over to his. 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 that’s what changed my mind. I was totally with this kid, right up to the point where his mother “blew it off” that he was concerned about being laughed at and made fun of. Because what little boy, dressed as a girl, isn’t going to get at least a little guff? I think it was pretty astute of this kid – a 5 year old preschooler – to know that there was going to be controversy. And he didn’t want to engage in it.
But his mother pressed the issue. And by doing that, she ceased to be his regular mom and started being an activist mom, with the attitude of “Anyone should be allowed to be anything they want for Halloween, and dammit, YOU are going to be a GIRL.”
This begs the inevitable question: since I’m being so opinionated, what would I have done in this situation? Well, Josh is 7 right now. He’s chosen “normal” things to be – last year, he was a mouse, this year, Anakin Skywalker. Before that, I chose his costumes, since he really wasn’t plugged into the whole Halloween thing. He was Mickey Mouse one year, a train engineer, a Bumblebee, a little pea in a pod.
But if he asked me, maybe for next Halloween, if he could be, I dunno… Junie B. Jones… I would probably ask him if he knew what kind of guff he’d get. And if he didn’t understand it, I’d be blunt about it. And then I’d probably tell him to wait a few years, until he was old enough to understand that, right or wrong, society isn’t ready for a boy to dress like a girl. I would want him to be emotionally ready to give back as good as he gets – because he’s going to be teased – when others challenge him on it. Once he’s maybe 11? He should be ready to take on that role, and not have his feelings hurt. To understand that the insults come from others insecurity, not from something being “wrong” with him or his choice of costume.
But a 5 year old? He should be shielded by his parents, who should know better than to throw their kid into the fire over something like this. Don’t be so naïve as to think that everyone thinks like you. No, dressing as Daphne doesn’t mean this kid is gay. I doubt he even knows what “gay” means, nor does he likely care. But adults can be cruel, and now this little boy has been thrust into the public eye by a mom who chose to remain ignorant of the issues. I know she didn’t mean to – no mother wishes any discomfort upon her children – but she did it anyway.