|Spiderman. Too cute for a mask.|
A few weeks ago we broke out the dress up clothes and started asking The Bean what he wanted to be for Halloween. He adamantly told us "Superwhy" and we subtly tried to steer him towards a costume that we a) had or b) could make (easily). He then ran through a number of ideas --witch, doggy, skeleton, ghost, Spiderman, cat-- trying on various costumes as he went.
|Sprout seem mildly unsettled by The Bean's skeleton makeup.|
That evening we had party #2. It was a neighbourhood party at the nearby streetcar barns where we go for the farmer's market. We went last year and had a great time, however, we both remembered it being hot. We decided Sprout would forego the piglet costume in favour of something more breathable. She has a sparkly little fairy get up that someone gave us when she was born (adorable, but yes, an odd baby gift) so that was settled. As I was getting her changed The Bean walked over with a beautiful gold brocade number out of our costume box and announced, "I be a princesses too!"
|Our little fairy princess, trying to eat her wings.|
Jen and I looked at each other. "How about a horse?" we asked. "No, a princesses." Neither of us were totally comfortable with the idea, but he insisted. We pulled out a pair of tights and I quickly cut out a paper crown and into the car we piled with our two princesses.
On the way there Jen and I tried to convince each other that this was no big deal. It's a costume. He's two. Halloween is about dressing up. Still, we were concerned that someone might say something hurtful. We told The Bean people might think it was funny that he was dressed as a princess. He shrugged and responded, "That happens." Clearly this boy is better adjusted than we are.
The Bean did get some glances at the party. I think people mostly thought it was cruel that we had given such an adorable little girl such a severe haircut. No one commented other than saying things about "All the beautiful princesses." The Bean was happy. He twirled with the best of them. We thanked the Halloween gods.
I'm still thinking about it though. Halloween is about dressing up. And who cares what a two year old decides to be. Is it really any more unusual to put our daughter into a fairy costume than it is to put our son into a princess costume? It's pretend. I repeat: Who cares?
Only the thing is people do care. As parents, we want to protect our children. I don't think twice when The Bean wears the princess dress at home, but out in the world I worry what others will say. I don't want to see him hurt.
On no level to I believe that The Bean is gender non-conforming, but this small experience made me feel so deeply for parents of children who are. How difficult they must find it to allow their child to express their individuality while knowing that not everyone will accept them for who they are. I can't imagine how ambivalent parents in that situation must feel. (And yes, I am talking about parents who are wholly supportive of their children, knowing full well and feeling heartbroken for children who do not have this kind of support from the people who should love them unconditionally.)
Tonight he's dressing up as a horse.
I love my son, the princess, but I am also relieved.