We walked silently to our friend’s house, save our shared footfall. Nick was unusually quiet, preferring to stare at the ground rather than the trees that lined our path. Something was bothering him, but I knew better than to ask him directly. He would tell me when he was ready.
“Nana,” he whispered, eyes downcast as he clutched the book we had just picked up from his school’s book fair. “Sometimes kids make fun of me for liking girl things.”
My heart broke a little.
Actually, it broke a lot.
Then my Nana Claws came out.
I wanted names, times, dates, locations. I would track these kids down and give them a complex so deep they’d be in therapy until their forties – buck teeth, morning meltdowns, seriously f@#$-ed up hair. How dare they hurt my son. How dare they judge his choices –
As I had.
Nudging him away from The Secret Diaries to Ninjago and World’s Scariest Animals Books 1-7!! Presenting his book to the cashier with a shrug and an eye roll, fearing the whispers about the boy with 2 moms who liked only girly things and really, wasn’t that the problem with same-sex households…
Did I think he didn’t see it? Was unaware of my silent disapproval? What kind of message had I sent him?
I took a deep breath and prayed for the clarity to see past my own ego, the one that wanted to make these kids pay for, well, being kids, and be the parent my son needed me to be in this moment, not the fearful hypocrite from 2 hours ago.
I leaned over and tipped his chin up so we could see eye-to-eye.
“How does that make you feel?”
He gave a little shrug. “Sad, I guess.”
“Sweetie, I know it’s a little hard right now, but it’s totally OK to like fairies. Do you know that one of the things I love about you is how you know exactly what you like?”
It was a quality I wish I had. Perhaps I did have it once, when I was his age, but it had dissipated over the years. Thank goodness for these children of mine, who were slowly returning the many things I had lost from my childhood.
“I remember one time, when you were 3, you took a huge bite of butter and when I asked you why you said, ‘’Cause I like it!”
His eyes went wide. “I did?!”
“You bet you did. That’s what makes you so special, kiddo. And I think being special is pretty awesome.”
He started walking again, this time with more pep…so much so, that it took me a few extended strides to catch up.
“You know what else, Nana?”
“When I was looking at the books at lunch time, a girl leaned over and told me that she liked boy things.”
“Really? And how did that make you feel?”
“Happy.” He closed his eyes and wrapped his hand around his fairy necklace – a free gift with every Magikal Forest purchase. “I have magic in me,” he said, quoting a passage from the book.
I leaned over to kiss his forehead.
“You most certainly do.”
P.S. I did take this fairy opportunity to introduce Nick to Shakespeare by way of Midsummer Night’s Dream. A very accessible kid’s version is available here. We scored ours from the library.
Once an English major…