Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pushy Mother, Push Off by @nortonmum

I have decided to give my son some peace and stop pushing him to be what I want him to be. (It’s very hard).
I grew up in Liverpool in the 60’s, all the things available to children now were unheard of when I was young, but I was lucky enough to attend a Grammar School, get a decent job, meet the ‘other half’ and now our son has a very different life to what we had as children.
When my son started Primary School I was looking at High Schools, now he’s in High School I recently researched Universities abroad. I do this all the time, looking for the next big adventure, but for who?  I wonder if I am trying to get him to do all the things I didn’t have the opportunity to do when I was young, regardless of his feelings towards them.
My son has been offered lessons in: horse riding, piano, rowing, dance, skiing and the rest. I have wanted to sign him up for every sport when he’s only ever loved football.
I want him to be: Top of the class, Captain of the team, Leader of the gang. He’s not interested.
He’s a friendly well-liked boy with good friends, he’s not bothered by what other people have, think or do, excellent qualities to have but why isn’t it enough for me?
I know my constant suggestions are annoying him. Recently he told me he has enjoyed the cross country running at school. He led the way and  thinks his long skinny frame suits this sport. Before I had a chance to speak he said  “Mum, don’t start looking for a running club”, that speaks volumes!
I don’t want him to stop telling me things and I think he might if I carry on with my pushing suggestions.
Sometimes I get on my own nerves. Why was I annoyed when he didn’t get invited to a party he didn’t want to go to, held at a venue we wouldn’t have wanted him to be in. He certainly wasn’t bothered about it.
I should be giving him space to be himself - for a kid who started school with selective mutism and is now a classroom chatterbox I think he’s done okay so far. I need to look at myself and what I need to fix about me, rather than him - because, really, he doesn't need fixing.
Pushy Mum needs to push off.
Thank you Claire for sharing your story and to Lyra for reminding me we are all individuals. After all, if you are happy in yourself why would you want to be someone else. 

The Uncheshire wife  

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Wherever She Lays Her Hat

So for as long as I can remember, Lyra has been tucking her hair into a baseball cap. For probably three or four years now. It's become part of her identity. She's not been that into cutting her hair off as she's realised that if her hair is short then she can't tie it back and she prefers to do that. The hat makes her look as if she has short hair anyway and therefore like a boy.

I think it's the main reason why she is mistaken for a boy. When she's wearing boys clothes with this hat on her head and what looks like short hair, there's nothing really to indicate that she's a girl, so I've never blamed people for getting it wrong.

Until recently, this baseball cap was everything to her. She wouldn't leave the house without it. If anybody not part of this family came into our home, then she would put it on. For the majority of time in the house she wore it anyway, but we insisted that she take it off at meal times, even though it was a struggle for us and also for her. She wore it to school and during playtimes although she wasn't allowed to wear it in class. She took it everywhere and wore it whenever she could.

We have been unable to part her from this hat. People would question me on why she felt the need to wear it. Even my mother went to the extreme of warning her that she would go bald if she carried on wearing it. We told her how sweaty and dirty it was. Heck, there were times when I was so frustrated that I would say it looked terrible, how it made her look weird. I used to hate that hat, especially when she wore it on sweltering hot days. It became a symbol for her complexity and something that reminded me daily that I didn't have a straight-forward little girl. That hat would give me knots in my stomach and a fear that things weren't as they should be. The hat became more than a hat - it became the struggle with this non-conformity that I had and I hated it. Hate for a hat! Can you imagine.

For her, I think it became almost like a mask she put on when she wanted to conceal the fact that she is a girl, although I suspected it had something to do with a confidence. It was a place to hide. Or maybe not a place to hide - I think I've got that wrong. It was perhaps the final prop she needed to make her feel who she truly is. The last piece of her identity puzzle.

Accepting Lyra for who she is, meant accepting the hat. If she needed it, then I would let her have it. After all, it was just a hat.

Once I had got over my stigma for the hat, a couple of things happened. One of the Cub leaders said she wasn't allowed to wear it any more at group. This was a toughy because Lyra goes to Cubs and feels 'one of the boys'. She protested, but I think because it had come from them and not me, she accepted it. Cubs is a place that she really feels part of, probably because some of the kids there think she is a boy. It was a big step for her.

Then, her school teacher said that she was no longer allowed it in the playground because it was associated with street wear. A common policy in schools, apparently.This riled me a bit because she had been wearing it for so long at school, I didn't understand why it had suddenly been decided that she was now not allowed it. But I took my lead from her, and she seemed fine about it - again because it had come from them and not me. It was funny because I'd been so anti-hat in the past, that now I'd come to terms with it as being part of her, the fact she wasn't allowed it any more saddened me somewhat. Yet she understood and was fine, so I had to go with that and not make an issue of it. Make an issue out of something that used to be an issue for me. Strange, eh?

Over the past few weeks, Lyra has hardly worn the hat. I think it's part of the changes that I wrote about in my last blog. In fact we went to London for the day and she didn't even take it in the car with her. It was the first time she'd properly been out in public without it and it was great because it was her decision, not something that had been forced upon her.

All I can say now is that this little girl must be growing so comfortable in her own skin that she doesn't need any props. She has a self-belief that now doesn't need a hat.

And hey, wherever she decides to lay that hat, well that's my girl.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes?

So just at the point where I'm totally accepting Lyra for who she is and what she might become, she puts "A Doll" on the top of her Christmas list. I asked her why and she said sometimes she'd like to be girly. Which is great, of course she can be whatever, but I spent so long wanting her to change and now I don't want her to change and I guess she MIGHT BE CHANGING.

Although I'm not sure that she is. I'm thinking that there is a bit of an outside influence from her friends who are girls because she's mentioned a couple of times that sometimes she only gets to play with them if she plays "girl" games. She wants to play with the boys and now with the girls too so she has to change the way that she plays if she wants to hang out with certain friends. Which is fine, because she seems happy enough to do it, but that little girl I so wanted might be on the cards - and I don't want her! I'm joking of course. But she has been so happy in her skin lately, that if she changes I hope that continues.

It's brilliant, this kid constantly surprises me and changes ME.

I adore the gender-fluid, non-conforming, boy/girl that I have grown to love for her confidence and comfort in being herself. I'd be GUTTED if outside stuff was having an effect on this as she gets older. I don't want her to bury who she really is just so she can play with certain friends or be seen a certain way. I'd hate for her to be in some kind of closet when she shouldn't even be opening those doors.

Next September she goes to middle school where there is a definite divide between boys and girls, especially with sports teams. And she'll be turning ten so some hormones might start to kick in. But as long as she goes with what she feels happy with, well, that's all that matters.

I'm hoping that Father Christmas brings her the doll and I hope she has a lot of fun with it. Especially when she ties it to the skateboard that's also on her list.

My Christmas list this year simply reads this - for me to learn to accept any changes, and to love her for who she is.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


I had this idea for a blog after the amazing response to my post on Scary Mommy about my daughter:

After reading the comments, I thought it would be great to expand on that piece and start a regular blog about my daughter and also feature blogs from @Keris and anybody else who wishes to guest.

This is where we're coming from -

Basically a blog about letting children be who they are and letting them become who they are meant to be. Supporting them and supporting each other. As a parent this can be quite hard at times as we often have ideas of our own and it can be especially tough when other people pass comment.

I wrote a follow up to that original blog here:

I don't want this blog to necessarily be about children who are gender-nonconforming but it's what I'll be writing about mainly. To be honest, I'm trying to avoid using labels such as gender-creative etc. It annoys me because Lyra is right - she is "just me", she doesn't need to be put into a mould.

So here's a thing - we had some people over the other day viewing our house. Lyra had her hair all tucked up in her hat as usual and was wearing boys clothes. As the people knew nothing about our family, they understandably presumed she was a boy. It was only when they asked her name that I had to tell them that she's a girl, even though she had happily gone along with their questions about football and rugby.

After they left, I asked her how it made her feel when I explained to them that she is in fact a girl.

And you know what - she said she felt bad because she didn't want them to feel embarrassed. She didn't mind at all that they presumed she was a boy. She just felt bad FOR THEM at being corrected.

Which made me think, because it's how I was feeling - but I'm 44 and she's only 8.

It was a proud mummy moment and, for those of you who know me, understand I don't have many of those :-)