I Delight in Your Pigeonholing Failure
I know that picture’s a little fuzzy, but Renee is wants me to tone down on the online exposure. There are places it’s safe to be non-monogamous and atheist, but not every person who might stop by Grounded Parents is going to be as awesome as its usual audience.
But, hopefully, you can kind of see how Tom gets dressed on an average day. It’s rainbows and hoops and circles and colors, and except for his Superman onesie, there’s almost nothing solid blue or pink.
And it drives some people absolutely crazy.
The internet is full of articles about people upset that their “clearly male” child was called “she” or vice versa, but we’re never going to be those parents. If anything, Renee and William have gone out of their way to pick non-gendered clothes and toys and everything in order to postpone for as long as possible the moment when Tom will begin to be pressured into a role.
I probably shouldn’t enjoy it so much, but I love that this kid is an enigma because he reveals so much about people. Some just want to coo and coddle and they just couldn’t care less about what box to assign him to. But some are completely uncomfortable not knowing. They awkwardly fumble for the answer like dancers who don’t know the steps.
I’m a particular fan of “How old is…” and then if I let them dangle at the end of that hook they’ll actually start to bob their head, then finally break down “…he? She? Sorry, I can’t tell?” One woman even drew out the “is” into a long “zzzzzzzzzz” noise while I tried not to laugh. In that particular case I just answered, “four months,” and watched her try to figure out another way to ask.
Some take it even a step further. They try to figure out Renee’s race. My skin is pretty pasty and most of my facial features are Irish and German and Tom is pretty clearly latino. (I realize it wouldn’t even occur to most of them that he’s not my son at all.) So they get right to work trying to figure out this mystery wrapped in an enigma by asking all manner of “discrete” questions about Renee.
“So where is his mother from?” they ask.
“Southern California,” I answer, pretending I have no idea what they want to know.
“What about her family?”
“Yeah, they’re from Southern California too,” I say, trying to keep my smile from becoming a smirk.
Usually that does it, but every once in a while: “I mean like ancestrally.” (Seriously, at that point, why don’t they just come out and say, “What’s the other race of this clearly mixed race baby?”)
Unfortunately for these people, I can keep answering “Southern California” until some time back Before Christian Era. Renee’s family didn’t come to the US; the US came to them at the end of the Mexican American war. But it’s delicious to watch them squirm around the question they really want to ask.
I’m sure there’s something poignant I could say here about pigeonholing babies and the human condition, but I’m afraid I came to Grounded Parents without the first clue about what I was doing. But someday I’ll show Tom this blog and it’ll be better than a baby book, so I will end with some words for him:
The question of who I am has preoccupied much of my life, and I have most of the advantages an individual can have in that regard. Both my parents were the same ethnic background—and the dominant ethnic background. I never felt out of place in my body. I think I might be a one on the Kinsey scale. And yet I can remember feeling “wrong” for wanting an E.Z. Bake oven as a boy (back when they were always bright pink and clearly a girl’s toy), for being gentle and enjoying reading, later for enjoying domestic work, and most of my life for letting women take the romantic lead. Just those few small places where I wasn’t in line with social expectation caused me to doubt myself, caused me to try to act in ways I didn’t like, and caused me to try to be someone I wasn’t, often with unfortunate results. I’m pushing forty and just now starting to feel like I know who I am.
I tell you this because you will have to figure out who you are just like I did and just like a lot of people with a lot more identity crises than being a dude who likes to do dishes. Our society wants to identify you and catalogue you and stick you in a file cabinet under your listing with a pre-generated agenda for how you should be. They want to tell you ahead of time what you should like and what you should wear and how you should behave and what is proper and even who you should love. (Though, thankfully, we’re getting better about that one.) There will be flack for every decision you make that doesn’t fit with these labels.
It’s going to be hard enough.
I gave you as much space to find yourself without locking you in a tower away from the whole world. I hope it helped a little, Bub. I held them off as long as I could.