new york city kid in arkansas
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I’m a very thoughtful mother, constantly thinking about my child and how to make his life fun and interesting.  Like letting him pick out a very obvious girl’s backpack for kindergarten or encouraging him to get his nails painted at a school party or putting a big yellow school bus patch on a hole in his jeans.  What could go wrong with any of these thoughtful and loving motherly decisions?

Where to start.

A few weeks ago we were playing at a Central Park playground when I noticed Huck surrounded by little girls his age.  I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on until he began walking toward me with a trying-not-to-cry face.  I asked what was wrong and he quickly shot out his fabulous multi-colored fingernails and then hid them under his extra long sleeves as he sadly climbed onto the lap of his traitorous mother who willingly sent him out into the world to be mocked.  As is often the case in emergency situations, I froze.  Thankfully our friend Shamie and her son Jacob were with us and they began enthusiastically telling Huck that of course it’s okay for boys to wear fingernail polish and who says only girls get to have all the fun?  And then Huck announced rather loudly, “BESIDES!  Only ONE person has told me my backpack is for girls!”  Snapping out of my motherly daze of worry I demanded to know who had made such a claim.  Upon hearing her name, I proudly announced that the same little girl had just the day before told me “Jonny” was a boy’s name!

This did not seem to make anyone feel better.

Back in October Huck ripped a big hole in his jeans while climbing a fence, so a few weeks ago we went to the store to buy a patch (because apparently I’m a mother in the 1970s).  He was most interested in a very glittery peace sign, and since I’d just learned my lesson I gently tried to direct him toward a plain black and grey one.   For the first time in his innocent life he said the words: “No, that one’s too girly.”  Trying not to cry I gave him a quick lesson in what’s actually considered girly (glittery things) versus not girly (black and grey things) and after a few more minutes of pondering he selected an androgynous school-themed set.  We got home, ironed on the big yellow school bus and the next day he wore his new and improved jeans to school.  But when I picked him up he had his hands on his hips (first sign of anger) and told me that several of his friends laughed at him and said it looked like the Magic School Bus and that he would never ever EVER wear the jeans to school!

Again I hung my head.

Huck has always been drawn to things designed for girls.  Whether it be flowery water bottles, Abby Cadabby or very good smelling lotions, he loves things I would love.  And because I want him to be himself more than anyone else, I’ve never discouraged this.  (Plus it’s nice to have such a sweet companion.)  But now he’s out in the world everyday and people his age are teaching him important things.  I know it’s perfectly normal for children to start caring about gender issues right about now, and I don’t have any bad feelings toward the kids who are educating him on what he is or isn’t supposed to like.  He’s got a strong personality and I don’t think anyone’s going to completely change him. (For instance, he let the nail polish come off naturally despite the teasing.)  I have no idea what Huck will grow up to be, but I guess all this has taught me one thing: most of all I want him to be kind.  I don’t want him to ever tell a kid he shouldn’t paint his nails or she shouldn’t have short hair.

And I hope he always has a colorful backpack.

7 comments

pappy T

November 22nd, 2010

I love these three photographs and these words and this writer and this little boy so very much it kinda hurts.

November 23rd, 2010

Lily has been made fun of for wearing Elmo and Winnie the Pooh clothes to school to which she yells, “My Mom is 36 and she LOVES Sesame Street and Winnie the Pooh!” Haha! I absolutely love Huck’s backpack, nails, and jean patch. He spends an awful lot of time with the coolest girl I know–no wonder he has good taste! xoxo

Tina

November 23rd, 2010

being a kid is tough!

Tia Rosie

November 23rd, 2010

Jeni- I think you should tell Lily not to LIE. it is not nice. We all know you are only 26. The nerve of that little girl.

Jonny- I think it’s so sad to see kids being mocked, especially when it’s my gorgeous, sweet nephew. I’m sorry Huck. I think your painted nails went very well with your snake tattoo. And BTW: remember I get a discount at Michaels, so anytime you want glittery or not glittery things I’m your gal. Big hugs

Shauntsies

November 23rd, 2010

Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tiny Dancer

November 29th, 2010

LOVE THIS

Rhea Anne

January 1st, 2011

OH! God knows I don’t know how to raise a child. However, if that became something I was faced with – I would wish to parent just as you two do it.

The unconditional and breathtaking love that you show Huck every single day will help him in the moments when you’re not there – and a life lesson may seem more than he can bare.

It’s not what happens to a person that defines them, but how they move through it. Or as the lovely nurse told my mother when I was a wee wee baby and hospitalized for pneumonia…
“A diamond ain’t a diamond ’til it’s been cut.”

I was missing you guys so decided to take a walk through the pics and the blog – I’m still missing you, but feeling pretty full up as well.

All love and God’s blessings in 2011 and always,

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