Principles. Those ideas we hold sacred. As important as they are to us, what happens when they butt heads with protecting those we love?
Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Ballet is for girls, football is for boys. Romance novels are for girls, sci-fi novels are for boys. <----AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGH. This is a thought system we fight very hard in this house. And despite our vocal vigilance against these sort of ideas, they still creep in--through school, through TV, etc., etc., etc. But we talk about them and do our best to make our kiddos see the foolishness of such distinctions.
Then came the pants. A pair of black leggings from the thrift store. That Gray fell in love with. Not with how they look, but with how they feel. He has Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Integration Disorder). While people with SPD all have sensory issues, there are many different manifestations. Different senses are affected differently in different people. For Gray, tactile sensations and proprioception are the areas that are most strongly affected. (Proprioception, put simply, is sensing where one's body parts are in relationship to one another. This is why Gray falls out of chairs on a regular basis. It is also why he continues to use a fist grip to hold a pencil.) But it's the whole tactile sensation thing that comes into play here. Physical sensations are multiplied exponentially for him. Things I can hardly feel even with conscious effort drive him absolutely crazy! (Thus the reason why the seasonal switching from long sleeves to short sleeves and vice versa that I've mentioned before is always so difficult around here.) And these pants--well, they're just the most comfortable things he's ever owned!
Do we care that he's wearing pants typically marketed for girls? Of course not. We wouldn't care no matter what the reason he chose to wear them. But here's the thing. This sweet child also has major anxiety issues. Not as in, "he's just on the shy side" or "he doesn't like to get up in front of an audience" or "he's a little worrywart" type of thing. No, he's been handed a slew of diagnoses. (Diagnoses that I'm happy to say his psychologist uses *not* as labels, but as tools to help decide what strategies may best help him be comfortable in his own skin.) Anyway, all this said to explain that he is every bit as sensitive emotionally as he is physically.
So...do we set this child up for more bullying and ridicule by allowing him to wear this pair of pants he loves so much, this pair of pants that take away a point of regular discomfort for him? Or do we invalidate everything we've continuously tried to teach them about the idiocy of gender stereotyping by telling him that his pants are "girl pants" and he shouldn't wear them to school?
Well, he wore those pants to school. And the first day, no one said a word. I breathed an inner sigh of relief. And washed the pants--because every other day is about as long as he can stand to be without them. Second day at school in them, a different story. Kids started teasing him about wearing tights. :( But in a feat of bravery, he just said he didn't care. And he's continued wearing his tights, as he now calls them, every other day to school.
I don't pretend to think that standing up for one's principles will always pay off so well. Life is rarely that simple. But this is a happy ending I'm going to cherish. I tell you, that kiddo just makes my heart burst with love and admiration...