Raising accepting kids is hard with ignorant parents

3483926477_c3b96ba88e_oSo I’m joining in on the fun created by Scary Mommy and playing Flashback Friday. I don’t have to reach far back to pull out a post that is still near and dear.

The following post was originally published March 30, 2009

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During March break I told you about taking the kids up to visit my mom for a few days. It was a great trip and the kids enjoyed themselves, outside all the time. We visited a great park that had that awesome saucer swing.

When we go to the park or playground I never really have to worry about my kids being lonely or board. Not because they play with each other, heavens no, miracles like that don’t happen too often. No, my kids are very outgoing and have no problem finding playmates in the playground. Our playground visit in my mom’s town was no different.

My son and another little boy were playing in the sand when my son decided he had enough and wanted to do something else. Here’s how that conversation unfolded:

my son: k, I’m going to so something else. I need my toys back

playground boy’s mom: You need to give the little girl her toys back

my son: I’m not a girl, I’m a boy

playground boy: How are you a boy?

my son: I don’t know. Same way you are

playground boy’s mom: Oh, you mean you like to play with boy’s toys

my son: No, I’m a boy. I play with boy’s toys because I’m a boy. I already told you that!

I should point out my son has long hair, longer than mine. Almost as long as his older sister. It’s beautiful and blond and had great curls at the bottom. When he was younger, my husband and I couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it for fear of loosing his cute curls (my husband had long hair up until I meet him). Now my son chooses to keep his hair long.

Hearing this conversation started my heart racing. You know, that anger type of racing, like when you someone cuts you off in traffic. The kind of racing from anticipating a fight. I wasn’t so much bothered by the comment. My son and I are both use to the girl/boy mix-up. When he was younger he would get quite mad. It was so obvious to him he was a boy and he couldn’t understand why people would make this mistake. Now older (if you can call being four older), he’s more matter-of-fact about it. No, I was bothered by this mother’s insistence that my son was a girl, even after he corrected her and her son. Why did she think she knew him better than he knew himself? Why do some adults have difficulty believing in something because a child tells them. If I had corrected her I don’t expect she would have argued with me about it.

I believe it’s our job as parents to teach our kids. Teach them to stand up for and believe in themselves. Teach them right from wrong. Teach them not to be too quick to judge. What lesson do you think playground boy walked away with? The same gender stereotypes that we were raised with but should be trying to break? That kids are too young to really know what the truth is?

I’m glad I let my son handle things. His response was calm and to the point. No yelling or threats. I’m sure if I had stepped in I wouldn’t have been so understanding. Perhaps that day I learned a lesson from my son instead: you can’t let ignorant people get under your skin. I can only home that playground mom and her son learned something just as valuable (though doubtful).

closeup

All boy

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Teach him to say, “I’m a boy because I have a penis.” That will make them stop dead in their tracks.

    And he is a very beautiful boy by the way.

    Reply

  2. Jennifer’s comment is funny. I have a story to go with her response. I have a friend and her son’s hair looks very much like your son’s. It was picture day at pre-school and the photographer asked him if he was a boy or girl. He answered boy and she said something like “Oh” and he asked her “Do you want to see my penis?” HILARIOUS! (And btw, he’s 4, too!)

    Reply

  3. GREAT post!!!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Oh Jennifer is FUNNY! I’ll have to track her down next! There is a little boy in my daughter’s preschool class who is also 4 and has amazing hair (long and curly) and his dad NASA guy also has long hair and some of the kids are completely weird about it. And some moms are better than others. You have to give your son extra points for saying to a grown up, No I’m a boy and I already told you that. GOOD FOR HIM!

      Reply

  4. Posted by scarymommy on May 9, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Good for him!! We adults could learn a lot from that dialog. And his hair is adorable. My brother used to have hair like that— I made fun of him when we were young but realize now how freaking adorable he looked. My mom sobbed when she finally cut it short!

    Thanks so much for posting! 🙂

    Reply

  5. I wore my hair short as a little girl and was constantly called a boy. It never bothered me because I DID look like a boy with that short hair. I eventually realized it wasn’t the look for me. Haha.

    Reply

  6. Hi! Found you through Robin’s blog. I agree with the first comment. Great post!

    Reply

  7. […] Club I’ve actually had the chance to meet some other amazing ladies. I even learned how to deal with ignorant parents with the help of my son. I started an additional blog on Michelle’s mom site Everything […]

    Reply

  8. I totally, totally sympathize, but am LAUGHING. MY BUTT OFF. at jennifer’s comment above.

    ‘because I have a penis.’

    AWESOME.

    Reply

  9. […] believe I said that, especially with a son who has gorgeous long hair. I know first hand what it’s like to have someone paint a broad stereotypical brush stroke over you. Of course I was wrong, very wrong. I have met a number of lovely women, some older than me, who […]

    Reply

  10. I love this – looks like you are doing something right with your son!

    It amazes me the assumptions people cling to even when faced with a truth that contradicts it. Adults, generally, don’t give kids credit – it pains me that a mother let her stereotypes doubt what a 4 year old was telling her about HIM! Ugh.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Vera Chan on February 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Woah, I love his hair! Don’t worry, my little niece( who is 2) has often been mistaken for a boy, due to her short hair and gender neutral clothes.

    Reply

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