Friday, November 5, 2010

Mom Turns Cross Dressing 5-Year-Old into Her Own Personal Cause

Have you heard this one about the 4-year-old preschooler who wanted to dress up as Daphne from the iconic Scooby Doo cartoon series for Halloween? His well-meaning mom and her cop husband, fully supported her son's choice, even though her son was going to wear the costume to his christian school. So far it's all good and she's a great mom for standing by her kid's choice.

The mom in question goes by the name Cop's Wife and writes the blog Nerdy Apple Bottom, where she posted a story about what happened to her son when he showed up for his preschool's Halloween party. The story headline reads, "My Son Is Gay", over a large picture of her adorable little boy in his Daphne costume. The opening line on the story, which starts below the photo reads, "Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.."

For the record, I don't advocate child exploitation for any reason, even when it's in support of a cause that I believe in like LGBT equality or letting your kid be who he or she wants to be, so I'm not posting the pic here. If you want to see it, click on the link above.

First of all, I have no problem with a little boy dressing up as a female for Halloween. I have a big problem with a mother who ignores her 5-year-old son's change of heart when he starts to think maybe it's not such a great idea. And I have a huge problem with a mother who exploits her 5-year-old son for publicity.
Cop's Wife refers to her son as Boo and his brother as Squirt on her blog. She writes, in part:
I was hesitant to make the purchase, not because it was a cross gendered situation, but because 5 year olds have a tendency to change their minds. After requesting a couple of more times, I said sure and placed the order. He flipped out when it arrived. It was perfect.

Then as we got closer to the actual day, he started 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?
Cop's Wife goes on to write about getting into a confrontation with some of the other moms about here son's choice of costume and how she stood up for him and defended the whole thing as no big deal, telling those moms that the kids all seemed to be okay with it and that "The only people that seem to have a problem with it is their mothers."

I want to make it clear that I think it's great that this mom took on the small minded class mothers when they challenged her son's choice of costume. Bravo! Good parenting. Now stop. Celebrate at home with a special dinner and let it go at that.

This is one of those stories that has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. I'll answer Cop's Wife's question with a question: Did you forget that you're sending your kid to a christian preschool? Is your head so far up your own ass that you seriously had no clue about the kind of reaction your choice would have and the ramifications for your son?

I have a nephew who, at the age of five, had a Mary Poppins fixation. For a few weeks he carried an umbrella everywhere and insisted that everyone call him Mary. His parents straddled the line between mild awkwardness when outsiders were around and unwavering support. Ultimately, they had fun going along with their son's fantasy, knowing it would pass. When the extended family gathered one weekend, there was some eye-rolling, but no one ever suggested that there was anything more to it than a little kid with a healthy imagination. His little cousins played along and they all had a great time acting out scenes from the movie. Eventually, he got bored with it and moved on to whatever came next.

I'd like to say that having me as an openly gay member of the family was a factor in their choice of action, (maybe it was, maybe it wasn't) but that would be self-serving. My nephew's parents simply used a little common sense and patience and the "situation" resolved itself, as most childhood issues do.

Unfortunately, this mother didn't listen to her son when he changed his mind about his costume and told her so several times, up to the moment they arrived at school, even though she acknowledged from the beginning that she knew this was a very real possibility. At this point, the story stops being about the child's choice and becomes a story that should be called "What A Great Mom I Am! Yay Me!"

I'm sure this mom had all the right intentions and her defense of her son comes from her heart. We all have stories from our childhoods about something embarrassing we - or our moms - did. The difference is that it never became part of the 24/7 news cycle. Is the fight for equality in such desperate shape that we embrace a clear case of child exploitation in order to achieve our goals? It is clearly a sign of progress that a heterosexual mother would take on the fight to stop anti-gay bullying, but parents using their kids this way has become all too common.

Cop's Wife can now join the ranks of Balloon Boy's parents, John and Kate Plus Eight, Octo-Mom and all the other trashy parents out their who delude themselves into thinking they're helping their kids when they treat them like just another commodity to be bought and sold to a busy-body public who just can't seem to mind their own business.
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  1. I don't like this interpretation of what she was doing. Exploiting her child? Hardly. She calls him "Squirt" and "Boo" to avoid posting his actually name...

    You act like she was forcing her child to wear the costume for some political cause. That is absurd. Her son picked the costume that he wanted to wear, and she even stated that she "asked him multiple times if he was absolutely sure that is what he wanted to be for Halloween, because kids that age tend to change their minds a lot", and he said "yes" before she ordered it...

    Him being weary of how kids would react is natural with anything, especially kids that age. What do you expect the mother to do? Tell her son that he should take the costume off and give into the pressures of ignorant people, because they don't understand? What kind of lesson would that teach? To not be yourself, because it is not socially acceptable? She is a great mother and was there to support her child and his choice, and backed him up 100%.

    The whole purpose of her blog is to show that she loves her child no matter what and will be there for him no matter what, no matter how ignorant people are. If only my mother were like that, then I would probably talk to her more than three times a year...

  2. Thanks for your comments, Anonymous. As my regular readers know, I don't always take the popular position on stories. I prefer to think for myself and dig a little deeper. On the surface, this story looks like a supportive mom standing up for her kid, while making a statement about diversity and acceptance.

    However, by her own admission, this mom ignored her son's growing anxiety about wearing his costume to school. There are times when a parent has to talk their kid through a difficult situation when there is a bigger issue at stake. This was not one of those times.

    She compares this experience high school boys engaging in a powder puff football game, dressing up as female cheerleaders during Spirit Week and frat boys cross-dressing as a part of a hazing ritual.

    Reminder, we're talking about a five-year-old kid here, not a teenager who has the life experience to make his own choices.

    While there is no excuse for the way the other moms reacted, I'll remind you that this was a CHRISTIAN SCHOOL. Like it or not, the rules are different. I am sick to death of people setting themselves up for discrimination in a church setting and then whining about it when it happens. The church has the legal right to discriminate against anyone it wants to. Anyone with an active brain stem knows that.

    As a blogger I know that sensational headlines get attention. I do it myself. But the Headline "My Son Is Gay" and posting his picture for all the world to see was irresponsible and the LGBT community and the mainstream press has been just as irresponsible in supporting this woman. All this does is feed into the bigotry of the religious right who already believe that we are after their children.

    We can fight our own battles without the help of Cop's Wife. There are kids out there that are truly suffering and need our help because of who they are, not because their moms created a problem where there wasn't one.


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