Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous bloggers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone, whether blogger or reader only, is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.
I am the mother of a toddler boy (or apparent boy, but I’m going to stick with the male pronoun since as best we know it applies), and recently he had his second birthday. We took him out to do several things. Including pick something (modest, not huge) out at the toy store, and get a toddler pillow for his new bed.
At the toy store, we were wandering with him in his dad’s arms (where he had chosen to be), trying to spot things to offer him as choices. As we strolled through the books, he lunged down to grab at a book on a shelf that was waist-high to his dad (ie, down around his feet) and clung to it. Well, then. The book in question was a Tinkerbell book, an oversize board book with a little keyboard that played some pre-set sounds related to the story. My husband was briefly concerned but, to my relief, his concern was whether or not the book had small parts (our son still tries to eat his toys and books) — it was age-suitable, and my husband relaxed.
Our son loves this book. He punched buttons all the day he got it, and he comes back to it frequently. One button is a pink sparkly heart that makes a sound I can only describe as sparkly, and the first time I heard it I said “Awwww!” (in that sappy voice you do) and now my son says that about every fifth time he hears that button.
That evening we went to get him a second pillow for his newly-converted bed (he already had one I made him). There were a number of options, but once we offered him the Tinkerbell pillow he rejected all others in the “this one or that one?” game and clung to it throughout the store. So Tinkerbell came home again.
When we got home, he poked the pillow in Tink’s nose and frowned. “Bwoken!”
“No, honey, it’s not broken. The book makes music. That’s a pillow. It’s still Tinkerbell, but it doesn’t make music.”
He set the pillow down on a chair and went back to playing with the book. I left the tags on the pillow, waiting to see what would happen (and to give him time to forget the disappointment), and he appeared to ignore it for the most part. Two days later I asked him if he wanted the Tinkerbell pillow in his bed (the Tinkerbell book stays downstairs; we try to keep loud toys out of the bedroom). “Tinkuhbell upstairs!” He hugged the pillow. I took the tags off. He’s cuddled it many nights since.
I don’t personally understand his love of it: it’s very pretty, and the back side is soft, but the Tinkerbell side is scratchy because of the fabrics and threads she’s done in. All the same, he does love it.
To those of you who, when told this story, give a sigh of relief when I describe his disappointment to discover that the pillow didn’t make music, and to whom I never tell the ending: fuck you. The Tinkerbell pillow is cute, my son loves it, and I probably ought to tell you that but I also refuse to pull him — a living breathing person you know — into a battle he doesn’t even realize exists.
To those of you who are neutral: thank you.
To those of you who visibly bristle when I say I left the tags on the pillow (often before I say why, because of how I normally tell it, feeling out my audience), and who relax or smile when you hear why, and that he did keep it? Thank you. Thank you for caring enough to be ready to tell me off (or at least be contemplating it) if I was squashing my child. I remember, and I appreciate it.
Thank goodness, none of the people who disapprove of his love of Tink are close to him so far. (At least as far as I know; maybe someone hid it better, but if they hide it, it’s their problem, not his or mine.) Because if it were someone who would bring it up to him, I’d have a Conversation to have.
A few things for you to think about, if my son’s love of Tinkerbell bugs you:
1. He’s two. Just barely two. Nothing about now is permanent, unless it is. There’s no way to know.
2. What is he supposed to do, hate girls or fairies? I’m not too worried about him being antisocial with faeries (the Tinkerbell kind, not using this as the modern slang, thanks), but he does have to attend school and work with girls and women as he grows, and I’d rather he liked them than not!
3. If you’re worried he’ll grow up feminine, or gay, or…let me just say that if he turns out to be a lesbian when he grows up? My one hope would be that he’ll be a happy one. Which means that if you disapprove of this kind of thing, you’re not the person I want much involved in his life, in case I’m using all the wrong pronouns now.
He’s young, and he’s a person, and he’s finding his own way. I won’t push him to like or dislike Tinkerbell — or trucks, or dragons, or roaring, or anything else that isn’t harmful to himself or others. And if I can help it, I won’t let others, either.
Because I want him to grow up whole and strong. Whoever he is, whoever he will be, he is my child and I love him. And I expect you to at least respect that he is and ought to be his own person.
From Arwyn: For more posts on this topic which, serendipitously (or unsurprisingly, given my known interest in gender and parenting) I recently ran across, see Tinkerbell Valentine of Much Consternation and And Another Thing! at Pax (Ro)mama and My Sons are Gender Conformists at Blogging When the Baby Isn’t Looking.
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