His Mom was Careless

"Boo", the boy in question, dressed as "Daphne"

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.

This entry was posted in adults, boys, choices, costumes, feelings, gender behavior, Halloween, identity, parenting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to His Mom was Careless

  1. Joy says:

    I agree with you. I was with the little guy until he started having all the reservations about it and the mom kept pushing him to do it. It was like she was pushing him to do it for some reason. I think a little boy shouldn’t dress as a girl until he’s old enough to know there will be ribbing over it.

    I also feel it’s wrong to push your kids to do things they don’t want to do or make them do things you did and you want them to do but they really aren’t interested. It’s so important to let your kids develop their own interests and not be pushed. If they want to that’s fine but I’ve seen so many instances where parents and “stage parents” and the kids aren’t having one bit of fun but the parents are living again through them.

    Gay??? Are people suggesting this has anything to do with being gay?? Tell me you’re kidding.

    • Laura says:

      I really don’t know about the gay thing. The mom entitled the post, “My son is gay” or something like that – SHE brought up the whole “gay” issue. Or maybe someone somewhere in those 41,000+ messages (I didn’t read them all) did. It wouldn’t surprise me, though.

      • SKL says:

        I agree, she brought up “my kid is gay,” brightly and boldly. What if her kids read that? I’m sure she also thinks that would be great for their development. “Rock that gay stereotype, little fellow!”

        • mssc54 says:

          Big deal if her kids read that. It’s not about them. It’s all about the mom being cool and getting the attention SHE didn’t get when she was a kid!

  2. Jenny says:

    Kids should dress up on Halloween in whatever they choose to be!! As long as they’re comfortable about it. The mom was right to let her son wear the costume, but when the boy was having second thoughts about it, she should’ve listened to him! I can’t believe she pushed him to keep it on and go to school when he was clearly not comfortable with it. And also, to turn this issue into the boy being gay? C’mon people, he’s 5 yrs old!! Kids play dress up all the time!!

  3. SKL says:

    I clearly remember dressing my kid brother up in one of my old dresses when he was 5. His hair used to grow so fast, he always needed a haircut, so we put it in pig tails and put him in a dress. It was funny for a few moments (he would have made a really cute girl), but when I suggested he go out like that for Halloween, he immeditely said “no.” So we changed him out of the dress and helped him assemble a boy costume.

    I am with you – I hate “activist parenting.” People giving their kids androgynous names and dressing them with the sole intent of confusing him and everyone else about their gender. People getting angry when they find they’ve failed to convince their daughters that “princesses” are fun to play. Like the moms above have said, it’s one thing to let preschoolers follow their interests (up to a point). It’s another to tell them their social concerns are not valid, knowing what the real world is like.

    The sick thing is, this mom felt she was “supporting her son’s feelings” as long as he wanted to go the controversial route. Why did she suddenly decide that “supporting his feelings” didn’t matter any more when he didn’t want to go as a girl?

    Then she tries to act all clueless. I don’t think so. If she really didn’t believe that anyone would pick on her son’s choice, then she would be saying “I made a mistake and I am really sorry I hurt my child. I wish I’d done differently. Now give my kid some privacy.” Not “let’s build up this story to further an agenda.”

    I also think it’s a bit weird to actually buy a girlie costume for a boy. I could see it if he made it up himself, but buying a costume means the mom finalized the decision. Kids change their minds 10x a day. I would not have cemented that decision in stone by buying a girl costume only. At least I would have hedged it by keeping a boy alternative ready should he change his mind. No, she just wanted everyone to see how progressive she was. Very sad for the little boy.

    Now I don’t know what kind of teasing this little boy received. If it was just his peers, that is no big deal. Little kids will find something to pick on and then move on to something else within minutes. Were older people attacking this child? What kind of people have we become? Or, are the older people really attacking the mom for forcing her kid to dress like a girl?

    • SKL says:

      OK, I clicked on the link. It is unclear what the little boy actually heard, but the mom was ticked about a couple of other moms allegedly saying they didn’t agree with her letting him wear the girl outfit. Based on the way it was written, I am taking her description of the conversation with a grain of thought. There will always be some uptight people in almost every group. In fact, even this woman was uptight in the way she refused to let her kid change his mind. The thing that still bugs me is that she is pretending her kid knew better than she did that some folks weren’t going to like Daphne on a boy. It comes off as dishonest to me. My kids at 2/3 were already hearing about stereotypes at preschool – both gender and racial. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that is out there.

  4. mssc54 says:

    Our six year old wanted to dress up like a road maintenance person. So we let him do it and also bring a paint bucket with yellow paint to paint the yellow lines in the parking lot. He had so much fun and after all it’s what he really wanted to do. I’m more interested in being his friend and being seen as the coolest parent so I pretty much go along with what he wants. I figured the worst thing that could happen is that he would get hit by a car but then we do have health insurance and THAT would make an even better story. Again, it’s what he wanted to do and we let him make all his own decisions. 🙂

  5. Magewyntyr says:

    Ok, so mom is supposed to let him go without a costume? Remember, this child wanted this costume! He asked quite a few times. She wasn’t being activist mom.. she was being normal mom. You know, the one who already spent money on a costume and cannot afford to buy another one?? How many of you bought what the little one wanted and then made them stick with it when they changed their minds?? If he had been in a doctor’s outfit and then wanted to be a Transformer, you would have told that child nope! You get what you picked out.

    The only problem with that mom is that she truly believed that no one would make fun of a 5 year old in a costume. IT’S FREAKIN’ HALLOWEEN. It’s time to act goofy and have fun dressing up. That’s the point. Mom didn’t pick on him and set out to embarrass him. She didn’t pick out the costume and demand he wear it. He wanted it. She just tried to encourage him in following his imagination and creativity.

    • Joy says:

      This child started having reservations about wearing this costume WAY before Halloween. She talked him into wearing it over and over. When it came time to go to school in it he really didn’t want to go in and she made him go.

      Maybe you didn’t read this part; “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”….Had he been a doctor or a Transformer, he knew he wouldn’t have gotten made fun of so that’s a moot point. Something inside this boy told him something was off and I think it’s sad this mother didn’t take the time to make this boy feel like his feelings were important.

      What makes you think all Halloween costumes cost money? There were many many years we made costumes from home that didn’t cost any money. Had he really not wanted to go and was embarrassed, why would she make him wear it? You’re making this about money so if you want to get right down to it, she shouldn’t have gotten this costume so ahead of time. Kids this age change their minds many many times before Halloween gets here. Remember, this kids is 5, not 15. 5 year olds don’t have decision making skills of this caliber. Maybe he liked the wig or something about it was fun to play with but something in him told him kids would tease him NOT IN A GOOD WAY. He’s a little boy who might have thought Daphne would be neat but deep down, he knew he’d get made fun of and he didn’t want to wear it to school. I think this mom wanted to prove how “open” she was.

    • Laura says:

      But she did demand that he wear it… when he was getting dressed that day and started saying, “they’re going to make fun of me,” and again when he didn’t want to get out of the car wearing it, he knew. That’s when she started the whole ‘activist’ thing – if she’d have gotten her own ego out of the way for a little while (and I’ve done it too… I think ALL parents do it at some point, just on different issues), and really LISTENED to her son, she’d have understood that at some point, for him, this became a really BAD idea. But she continued to force the issue, and then was surprised when he was right.

      Even though nearly every other mom on the planet could have told her that this was going to happen.

      And Joy’s right – it’s not about the money. She didn’t have to spend very much on this costume at all. I probably could have made it for $10 or less, just browsing the aisles of second-hand shops.

  6. Nikki says:

    I read this last night, and then couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t want to comment right away, because I WAS thinking SO much about it, I wanted your post to really sink in. I read this mothers blog post last week, it might have been. I guess I over looked a lot of things, and had to go back and read it again.

    I don’t understand where the “gay” part even came in. I have seen mothers post pictures on Facebook of their 13, 14, 15 year old sons dressing up as girls, cheerleaders, for a pep rally at school. Are they gay? No. I actually believe that my husband has dresses up as a girl, or women, for Halloween. I KNOW he’s not gay.

    Do I think kids should be able to wear whatever they want? Yes, as soon as they have their own opinion, I believe so. Say at age 5, Bailey asked to be Daphne for Halloween. I would certainly ask him if he was sure, and if he insisted I would buy it. But then when the day came, and he was visibly nervous and expressed why he was nervous, I wouldn’t have made him wear it. He would have gone without a costume, or I would have came up with a quick homemade one. I am all for not shielding kids from everything, but he is only 5 and the more I think about it, the more I have come to the conclusion, I don’t think he fully understood it all. I am not against parents who are activists, but I am against parents using their children as examples. And I think that’s what she was doing.

    My thoughts have certainly changed about this, so thanks Laura for really opening my eyes. As much as I am for individual expression, I am also for protecting your children from unnecessary hard, when they are clearly too young to understand fully.

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