Divine Thing - Soup Dragons (mp3)
Massive positive buzz abounds for a blog entry from a mother whose 5-year-old preschool son dressed up as Daphne for a Halloween party at his school. Here’s the intro, but I highly encourage you to read the entire piece:
My son is gay. 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. I have gone back and forth on whether I wanted to post something more in-depth about my sweet boy and his choice of Halloween costume. Or more specifically, the reactions to it. I figure if I’m still irked by it a few days later, I may as well go ahead and post my thoughts...I find myself uncomfortably conflicted by her post. Perhaps my reaction speaks poorly of me, but the devil's advocate can't stand the absolute onslaught of warm fuzzies she's receiving. A bajillion people have commented how much they adore this woman’s post, and my reaction wasn’t nearly that simple.
Foremost, some of her zingers are absolutely awesome and righteous, particularly this line:
If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.
Admittedly, however, I have problems with her overall spiel. First, I don’t really believe someone capable of writing this well can be as clueless as she purports. If she didn’t see these reactions coming -- which officially makes her more socially naive than her 5-year-old -- then she doesn’t get out much. Besides, if she didn't see the negativity coming, then why were all her pals high-fiving her down the hallway?
Therefore, I question her motives. Was she really out to make her sweet precious Boo happy, or was she willing to use her son for her own combative lust? (And, if the answer is a little of both, is that OK?)
Third is my reaction to her conclusion:
And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.I’ve got bad news for you, honey. Instant happiness and long term happiness are almost entirely unrelated. One of today's biggest cultural problems is that making your child happy has superseded making them good people, and you are clearly and admittedly in that Insta-Happy Camp. (Happy: first sentence. Good person: last sentence.)
Five-year-olds aren't soldiers. They shouldn't be used to fight our battles. If she'd encouraged her son to dress as Papa Smurf rather than Daphne, she didn't somehow kill his soul. He's FIVE.
Being a parent isn’t always about making our children happy in the now. Happiness is not a goal you can reach by aiming for it. Happiness is the desired by-product of other meaningful pursuits.
Let me be crystal clear here, because this is important: When your first goal as a parent is your child's constant and immediate happiness, you are at best a naive parent, and at worst a horrible one.
Cross-dressing, marrying someone of a different race or religion, moving to Pakistan to become a Christian missionary, opening a medicinal marijuana farm. These are not the same kinds of decisions as whether to brush your teeth at night. I’m not saying any of these life choices are Wrong, because I'm a lib'ral relativist. But in our time and in our culture, to suggest that parents don’t have a responsibility to educate and prepare our children for the world that might not approve of everything they do or want to do... to let your children ride their bikes into traffic without at least informing them of the risks and dangers... well, that’s shitty parenting.
Evangelize to cannibals in the Amazon. Cross-dress. Marry a lovely Hindu man. Whatever. As your parent, I’ll love you regardless, but I do have the responsibility to make sure you are aware what you might be getting yourself into.
Again, I admire at least 80% of what this mom says. And I admire the ferocity with which she defends and loves her son. But to say the moms are bullies? Get over yourself. Snotty? Callous? Condescending? Insensitive? Sure, to all of ‘em. But when we start labeling their behavior as bullying, we have watered down the term so much it’s meaningless. It’s like calling a kitchen knife a WMD.
And here's the last part for this mom and all her cyber-huggers. Kids are more resilient than any of you seem to realize. Her precious Boo won't remember a thing about his Halloween party in two weeks, because nobody ever said anything to him or did anything to him.
Her blog isn't about her precious Boo. It's about her.
It takes a self-absorbed blogger to know one.