I am not a kid-having person. It has never been on my mental “to-do” list and has actually tended to weird me out to the point of semi-panic attack. Thankfully, the Green Fox has duplicated and synthesized his DNA and so has fulfilled the Grandparent’s need for something to dote on and also to Carry On the Family Name. Good for him.
I could seriously write out a huge long treatise on my not reproducing habits, but I will save that and focus on an odd series of events that has happened to friends/acquaintances around my internet world.
Thing the first: Semi-good acquaintance has a son who has all the “I don’t give a fuck” and then some. He has a ton of elder sisters and is totally happy playing with their gear and really digs owls. Apparently, the boys section of the shops do not contain enough groovy owl shirts for his taste. So, no biggie, he and his Mum wander across the store to the pinker section and get some rocking owl shirts. His favorite is one that has an owl wearing glasses because OF COURSE IT DOES. All the cute. So he and his father are out bopping around doing son/father shit at Bass Pro and Total Stranger just HAS to go out of his way to comment poorly on the glittery owl shirt while shooting a Look at the father. Kiddo does not pick up on tone because he is thankfully too young and just thinks his owl shirt is SO AWESOME that randoms are talking about it. The father has to be all “must not punch random ass in public” and brush it off. Said stranger continues to sort of shadow them around the store while talking to his buddies.
Thing the second: One of my favorite bloggers has an exceedingly adorable little girl who is into action things. Action hair, action clothes, all the sports. She gets compliments on her “son” quite often and generally does not engage because, eh, who cares? Recently, she had an odd moment and did correct the individual. Instead of going “oh, sorry” or some sort of normal human interaction, the stranger actual went out of their way to make the situation MORE uncomfortable than it really should have ever been. She started talking about how the girl could “look more like a girl” and went into a bit of a “you should get earrings!” rant because that would not…confuse strangers? The kid was totally nonplussed, but really? The little girl should get pierced to fit into a more normative “this is a girl” box?
These are both concerning to me. Not only have these events happened in my online world within a few days of each other, but they give me a glimpse of just how much more difficult it must be to parent. My reaction to either of these situations would not have been favorable or possibly even legal. Maybe it is the crowds I have always ran with, but I cannot imagine saying anything like this or even feeling the slightest urge to NOTICE. Kid A has adorable shirt and Kid B is going to grow up to be a superhero. End of saga as far as I am concerned.
The “it takes a village” idea is lovely when the village is extended family and friends, but that is where it should really end. The village is not randoms in a shop. It is not people with no knowledge of the family. Kids have enough problems without people trying to shove them into boxes to fit their own world view. Kids are little modifiable piles of flesh and bone and brain cells. Should we not let them and their families create the foundation for the people they become and not push our outsider ideals upon them?
In the perfect world in my head, the family and any teachers are those who guide the kids on their way to finding themselves. I know it is not true. Seeing it illustrated in these examples is hard for me to imagine and take. It makes me sad on all kinds of levels. It makes me want to grab my nephew and give him some sort of magic bullshit deflector to carry around with him.