"Dude, I don't want to talk about Lacey's prom shoes. And I'll tell you why: I have this thing that makes me really uninterested in prom shoes. It's called a penis."
~John Green, Paper Towns
So obviously everyone with the above appendage is not unappreciative of prom shoes so don't think that is what this blog is about.
I recently saw a father who posted a picture of his son picking out a lovely mermaid doll get slammed by severe Christian conservatives for letting his child do such an obviously life-threatening and morally apprehensible act.
A mermaid doll. He is five.
It made me think of Ethan when he was little. The playgroup we were in was mostly girls and it never failed that Ethan would hit the dress-up trunk and go for the heels, taffeta and beads. When visiting his cousin he loved her barbies and Polly Pockets so much those things became his Christmas list. He still had a dinosaur fetish and eventual obsession with Rescue Heroes but he could get lost in the make-believe of playing, doing, and being whatever he wanted.
I completely supported him. The way I convinced his ultra-conservative father to lighten up was by reminding him that we were in the process of adopting a girl so these toys would be passed on when Ethan grew out of them.
My daughter was never against playing with a truck or race car. And even though Drew was all about things with wheels he was also (I thought) my future Broadway star. He could belt out any show tune like Shirley Temple with an adorable smile and twinkle in his eye.
I grew up playing with matchbox cars and Star Wars figures. I did want to be a boy, though. All of my friends early on were boys so if you couldn't find me I was probably at the top of a tree or in the creek letting crayfish pinch my fingers and hang there to impress my guy friends and freak out any girls that might have joined us.
The fact that certain narrow-minded people think gender confusion is "caused" by a thing or a way someone is raised is pathetic, dangerous, and sad. Kids figure out who they are without any help from us. The best thing we can do is give them a full toolbox of their choosing to express themselves. Punishing them for self-discovery is telling them that who they are is wrong. Fine if you're seeing psychotic, animal maiming tendencies but not okay if your five-year-old boy wants the pretty mermaid doll.
Ethan grew out of his love of pearls and heals and now loves soccer and video games. But even if he didn't, even if he loved all those things and still had a need for pretty prom shoes, that would be okay. People shouldn't be put in a box with a label and instructions like a mermaid doll. Kids and even adults should be more like legos, ready to be created and recreated whenever necessary.
There are no directions to be followed. Just ideas, passions, passing fads, obsessions, and discovery of who we are and who we want to be.
Be proud of that person no matter what narrow mind tells you otherwise. They are the ones to feel sorry for. Think of how many fabulously creative, beautiful, talented and smart individuals they will never have the honor of getting to know.
That's what happens when you live in a box. Those twist ties are a bitch as well.