Monday, November 8, 2010

Free to Be

I applaud when someone wants to be an individual and not conform to society. This is not an easy thing for anyone to do – due to peer pressure, religious beliefs, etc. But when a child who has not fully been tainted by what others say is acceptable does it: WOW!  Recently a blog has been circulating on the internet about a mother who allowed her son to dress up on Halloween as a girl character from Scooby Doo – because it was the child’s favorite character. Naturally it started some sort of debate about gay issues, but I do not believe this has anything to do with homosexuality.

Children play dress up. That’s what they do. Parents (hopefully) encourage creativity and imagination. And kids will eventually grow out of this playtime (unless they go into the theatre, but that’s another story.) There have been books and movies written on the subject and few of them get into the gender confusion debate. The movie Bruno (released to DVD as The Dress Code) had a boy saying he got his power from his dress, much as the Pope does at the Vatican. (There are many religions where men continue to wear – what the normal eye would call a “dress.”)

Another mother has written a book celebrating the fact that her son was so different that he likes to play dress up – not showing fear and angst over the fact that he believes he is a ‘princess boy’ when he was told boys cannot be a princess.

My mother was in early childhood development for other thirty years  - and still works as a ‘foster grandparent’ in a kindergarten class every day. I grew up hearing what she witnessed in her classroom daily.  Little boys and little girls go play in the area of the room called ‘home living’ and will dress up like mom and dad.  And sometimes (heaven forbid) the little boys will pick up a doll and walk around with it. (Something they may very well be doing if they ever become fathers.) These are normal behaviors and it would be wonderful if adults could not get so worked up looking for a deeper meaning. 

Think back to the 70s when Marlo Thomas said it was okay to be who we wanted. Let kids be kids. Love them. Celebrate them. And let them be creative.  That child may end up being a designer, architect, actor, teacher or the CEO of a company one day. That’s the wonderful thing. You just don’t know what they’ll become. But stifling creativity at an early age will not allow their minds to roam free later in life when that very creativity may be what puts money in their bank and most importantly - brings them joy.

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