A nominee for Coolest Mom of the Year

Let's just say Nerdy Apple Bottom was taken aback by the reaction when she let her son be Daphne for Halloween.

Found a link to this blog post Thursday from a Mary Elizabeth Williams piece in Salon.

The blogger is a woman who calls herself Nerdy Apple Bottom. According to her profile, she’s the wife of a detective somewhere in the Midwest (I’m guessing Missouri) and has three kids. The middle one, her 5-year-old son, is the one who prompted her to write this post.

Or, more to the point, the things other mothers said to her when she brought the kid to preschool on Halloween dressed as Daphne from “Scooby-Doo.”

No prompting from Mom on this — the boy, whose best friend is a girl, is a big “Scooby-Doo” fan, dressed as Scoob for Halloween a couple years before, and wanted to be the pretty redhead this time around. Let’s say she was not ready for the reactions from these women.

And this is no slag on any other mothers I know, but her response has earned her a nomination for Coolest Mom of the Year.

You know Halloween — the one day a year when people let their id run wild dress up as something they’re not? Or would like to be? The holiday that was once spurned as a spawn of Satan and is now a multi-billion-dollar industry?

Well, after he asked three times, Apple Bottom ordered the costume. But as Halloween approached, he started getting skittish about wearing the costume. He told his mom he was afraid of being made fun of. Mom reassured him, being of the mind that “Seriously, who would make fun of a child in costume?”

Sure enough, when they got to school last Friday, there was ridicule — not from the other kids, but from other mothers.

And keep in mind this is a church preschool. You know — where kids learn about Jesus. The Jesus who said things like “Don’t judge lest you be judged yourself” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love one another as I have loved you.” That Jesus.

In her initial post about the party, on the day of, she had this to say, as she pondered what had just happened:

for those of you that looked at my sweet boy in disdain this morning, or looked at me funny for “allowing” my son to be what he wanted to for Halloween, or made those snide and unnecessary comments — your lives are small, your tact is lacking, and you can SUCK IT!

And after pondering it some more, she presented more eloquent full-on post Tuesday — titled “My son is gay,” followed by the lead graf:

Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

And she spelled out the disdain she — and, of course, her kid — received from three mothers in particular. Things like “Did he ask to be that?!”

As if wearing a dress — on frickin’ Halloween! — means the boy is gonna grow up to be a woman. As if it would matter whether he did or not.

The rest of her response should be required reading for mothers everywhere:

But here’s the point, it is none of your damn business.

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

If my daughter had dressed as Batman, no one would have thought twice about it. No one.

But it also was heartbreaking to me that my sweet, kind-hearted five year old was right to be worried. He knew that there were people like [mothers] A, B, and C. And he, at 5, was concerned about how they would perceive him and what would happen to him.

Just as it was heartbreaking to those parents that have lost their children recently due to bullying. IT IS NOT OK TO BULLY. Even if you wrap it up in a bow and call it ‘concern.’  Those women were trying to bully me. And my son. MY son.

It is obvious that I neither abuse nor neglect my children. They are not perfect, but they are learning how to navigate this big, and sometimes cruel, world. I hate that my son had to learn this lesson while standing in front of allegedly Christian women. I hate that those women thought those thoughts, and worse felt comfortable saying them out loud. I hate that ‘pink’ is still called a girl color and that my baby has to be so brave if he wants to be Daphne for Halloween.

And all I hope for my kids, and yours, and those of Moms ABC, are that they are happy. If a set of purple sparkly tights and a velvety dress is what makes my baby happy one night, then so be it. If he wants to carry a purse, or marry a man, or paint fingernails with his best girlfriend, then ok. My job as his mother is not to stifle that man that he will be, but to help him along his way. Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.

I hope I am doing that.

And my little man worked that costume like no other. He rocked that wig, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

You go, Apple Bottom!

UPDATE 11/6: Well, all it takes is one person to see something sometimes. The right person or persons saw this mother’s post, and it’s now received over a couple million hits and, as I write this, over 36,000 comments.

And it led Nerdy Apple Bottom — real name Sarah, last name withheld for privacy’s sake, who does live in Missouri (Kansas City) — to do a phone interview with CNN’s “America’s Morning” yesterday. (Be warned — you’ll have to sit through a 30-second commercial.) She clarified a few things: Many of the kids in her sons class gave him high-fives and hugs, and many of the parents were clued into the costume and were fine with it — it just seems to be the three moms in question. And while she didn’t mention her husband in the blog post, she told the CNN crew that he was “100-percent supportive,” “flabbergasted” with the reaction, and also said that the oldest daughter wears a lot of boyish athletic clothing and no one says a thing about it.

To me, just as incredulous as the response of mothers A, B and C was the response of the CNN psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere: “I think you kinda outed him by putting him in the blog.” Jesus — did this guy even read the blog? How can you “out” someone who doesn’t even have a sexual identity to speak of at five frickin’ years old? The kid just thought it would be cool to be Daphne — for Halloween! And Sarah, first and foremost, addressing the ignorance and hatred of parents — of people who should damn well know better. If anything, this shrink outed himself as an ignorant man. So much for facile TV pop psychology …

Anyway, if that’s not enough, Sarah will be on “The Today Show” Monday morning …

UPDATE 11/8: Sarah, whose post has now accumulated over 3 million hits and 41,000 comments, appeared with Meredith Vieira on “Today” this morning to talk about her Boo. Nothing new to report on this front.

But the more intriguing story is that of the other mother who appeared with her. Boo’s Daphne tale may or may not turn out to be a one-time event. But Cheryl Kilodavis of Seattle and her family live the gender trip every day. She wrote the book “My Princess Boy” about her son, Dyson, now 5, and it’s being used in his school as an anti-bullying tool.

She admitted that accepting Dyson, and his fondness for dresses and things pink and sparkly, has been a process for her and her family, and that she was uncomfortable initially. (She talked about it more in depth in an interview on KING-5’s “New Day” show, where Dyson’s father, Dean, and his brother, Dkobe, also expressed their support.) He first dressed up as a girl at preschool when he was 2. She went out that night and bought boy-appropriate costumes, but when she went to pick him up again the next day, there he was in another dress. Cheryl talked to Vieira about having “not-proud moments” along the way — such as the pivotal exchange where Dyson declared, “I’m a princess.” To which Mom replied, “Boys aren’t princesses.” To which Dyson said “No, I’m a princess boy.” Hence, a title and a book were born.

And what she said this morning, like what Sarah wrote in her blog, should be required reading:

We have children who are expressing themselves differently, and we need to get to a place of acceptance … Dyson really sort of put me on alert and helped me get through this process a little bit more of accepting him for who he really is, and that’s what this is all about …

I think, as parents, our job is to love and support our children. And if they are happy and healthy and they are expressing themselves, we have to get to a place of accepting differences.

I hope, regardless of whatever makes their children different, that all mothers can get to a point one day where they can raise their kids in an atmosphere where love and nurturing and acceptance trump fear and ignorance. Big virtual hugs to both Sarah and Cheryl.

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3 Responses to “A nominee for Coolest Mom of the Year”

  1. It's Drew! Says:

    “Mine is not to dictate what is ‘normal’ and what is not, but to help him become a good person.”

    If only every parent thought like that.

  2. Sveinn Haraldsson Says:

    Hi,

    Read this and loved it. By the way, the book I mentioned is Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin. I am halfway through it and it has interesting things to say about gender and people who are born biologically with the wrong one.

  3. Marice Says:

    Hey Fran!
    My niece dressed up as a male Power Ranger years ago when she was about the same age as Nerdy Apple Bottom’s son. Nobody said anything about it. I’m a little concerned as to the negative reaction to a boy dressing as a female, as though that’s below the station of the male.
    Just a thought from yer friendly proud card-carrying feminist.

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