"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allen

Friday, September 9, 2011

Boys and Girls

So, I have a dilemma.

As you might now, Sebastian loves superheros.  Loves them.  Really, he had no chance.  Geoff is a comic nerd from waaaaay back and the kid had a comic in his hands from the time he knew how to hold one.  His teachers are always amazed at how engaged and focused he is, when they do a unit using superheros.

He has his favorites.  His very, very favorite is Wonder Woman.  He also likes all of the Justice League, particularly Hawkgirl, Green Lantern and Batman.  But Wonder Woman always comes first.

We were at Walmart today, looking through the Halloween costumes.  Sawyer found a Minnie Mouse costume she liked (just a pink dress and ears, but she is happy, so I am happy.)  Since I am usually the crazy mother in the costume aisle the week before Halloween, I thought we could be a little proactive this year and pick stuff early, while there is a still a selection and we aren't madly trying to choose between the donkey from Shrek and a Power Ranger from 1997.

So, we picked Minnie for Sawyer and started looking for something for Sebastian.  Well, he found what he wanted, alright. 

You guessed it.  A Wonder Woman costume.

Now, I have absolutely no problem with Sebastian dressing up as whatever he wants for Halloween.  He has witches costumes at home that he used to wear all the time.  Couldn't care less. 

But he is going to be 10 this year.  And I can only imagine what the other 10 year old boys would do to him, if he showed up at school, dressed in a short mini dress, looking like Wonder Woman.

And as I am standing in the aisle, trying to explain the preconceived notions of gender appropriate behavior, I am trying desperately to avoid phrases like "Only girls wear dresses" or "Boys don't do that".  I do say that while mommy is fine with him dressing up as WW, other people know that she is a girl, and they would expect a girl to wear the costume.  I said if they were surprised to see a boy in the costume, they might not say nice things, and might laugh or be mean.  I said that I think it is fine if he wants to dress up at home, but that I don't think it is a good idea to be WW for Halloween to go trick or treating.  But his autism doesn't allow him to understand much beyond the fact that he loves WW, and that he wants to be her. 

I have, for many years, harboured a sneaky suspicion that Sebastian might be gay.  I know people think that I joke about that, but I am deadly serious.  He really hasn't shown any type of romantic inclinations towards either sex, but his behaviors and preferences tend to lean more towards the feminine.  That might mean nothing more than I am the dominant feature in his life, and I have maybe influenced his behaviors and choices more that I thought I could.  I am a strong female presence and as such, I think he finds comfort in that, when he is looking for heroes and role models.  But, I do wonder if it's more than that.

Geoff and I have talked about it, and neither of us has an issue with it.  We know many gay people, both men and women, and get along with them well.  I have no problem at all with Sebastian being gay, other than the inherent issues that come along with that.  Couple that with his disability and the poor kid has a recipe for one rough life.  I mean, it's hard enough for an autistic person, but a GAY person with autism??  Holy crow.  I don't even want to think about it.

So, while I have no issues with Sebastian's potential sexual orientation, or his possibly penchant for cross-dressing, I do want to avoid him having more trouble in his life.  And I felt (and still do feel) that keeping him from dressing as a crime fighting woman for Halloween is the right decision. 

Geoff had a brilliant idea, that eventually worked.  He talked Sebastian into getting either Batman or Superman costume (we had to go with Batman, since the Superman was too small, although that was what Sebastian picked first) and told him that he could carry his big stuffed Wonder Woman, and even Hawkgirl and go out for Halloween as the Justice League.  Once Sebastian wrapped his head around that, he was on board.  The Batman costume is safely put away.

But this whole scenario is weighting on me.  I keep thinking about it.  I don't know if what I did was right, or wrong.   Could I have handled it differently?  Should I have said things that I didn't?  Did I say things I shouldn't?  I think mostly, what I am thinking is that this is the first of many such situations. 

I guess I just have to take it as it comes.  Just like everything else.  Anyway, it's going to be an interesting Halloween!

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "never know."

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