In my July post Put the Candles Out, I wrote about the murder of 15-year-old Lawrence King at the hands of 14-year-old classmate Brandon McInerney. In that piece I talked about what led up to the shooting; I said then and I still say there is no justification for what Brandon did. He should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Something else I said at the time, however, was that Lawrence’s behavior was unacceptable. I had long since removed my personal email address from the website, but two liberals that I have known for a very long time sent me very hateful messages for what I said and severed all ties with me over that post. If they read what I’m about to write, they’ll be sending me death threats.
Yesterday, Tammy Bruce tweeted a news story from Denver about a seven-year-old boy named Bobby who essentially lives like a girl. He wants to join the Girl Scouts. His mother had apparently contacted the Girl Scouts about it and got a positive response – sure, bring him! We’re an inclusive organization, and if a child identifies as a girl, they can be a Girl Scout! Well, Mrs. Montoya took Bobby to the local troop only to be turned away by the troop mother, who said he couldn’t join because he “has boy parts”.
Okay…lemme speak from experience here.
When I was a kid, as far back as age five, I wanted to be a boy. My mother dressed me up in dresses and cute stuff but I wasn’t interested in girl stuff – He-Man and GI Joe were my heroes. Later I got heavily into Voltron and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My sister started an impressive Barbie collection, but I was more interested in going to the shooting range with my dad. I traded baseball cards with my brother. I practiced hard pitching with my grandfather. I wanted to be a Boy Scout; in fact I wished, after my friend’s older brother did it, that I could become an Eagle Scout (but to this day a girl would not be accepted, and it should stay that way). I got into politics and philosophy, learned to play guitar when I was 10, and if allowed I never would have worn another dress in my entire life. When grunge became popular I stole my dad’s old combat boots and wore them to school with my slashed jeans (actually, I had to sneak them into school and change because if my mother saw what I was wearing she’d have had apoplexy). The worst that my parents can say about me as a kid was that I was more interested in music and recreational reading and writing than I was in doing schoolwork.
My mother went way too far on a lot of things, but the one thing I can say for certain that I’m glad she wouldn’t budge on was the fact that I was not a boy. She could have gone about it much differently, but I’m glad that she insisted that I wear a dress to church. I wouldn’t be caught dead in one now, but that’s beside the point. My mother knew what I was too young and dumb to realize: when you deviate a little bit from the norm, it’s rebellion; when you deviate too far from the norm, you’re an instant target. And when you’re a kid you really don’t know what you are or want to be.
I wanted to be a boy when I was a kid, but now that I’m an adult I like being a woman. Yes, I’m a lesbian. I like women (as long as they are also lesbians). I lost interest in changing my gender when I was in junior high school. While I wish my mother would have enforced the rules just a tad differently, I have to say that I’m glad she didn’t wantonly feed into the fact that I wanted to be a boy.
It is important to let a child explore and, to some degree, be who or what they want. It is far more important, however, to set limits on children. What this little boy and his mother do not realize is that just by dressing and acting like a girl, he’s made himself a huge target. By going on the evening news for a feature spot, however, they’ve made him a pariah. In the feature, he admits to being bullied. Do you think that’s going to get better or worse now? Parents will tell their kids to stay away from him at school. Kids at school will be more merciless than before. He’s not learning limits – if his mother doesn’t rein him in quickly, he’ll end up acting like Lawrence King, prancing around school in stiletto thigh-high boots and wearing makeup, flirting with boys in the hallway who are not of that orientation and don’t understand what’s going on. If he survives that, he’ll go on to learn the hard way that the real world of adults can be just as cruel, if not more so.
Childhood is definitely a time of exploration and questioning. It is also the best time to set limits and teach rules. Bobby doesn’t know what he wants or what he is just yet; the greatest injustice his mother can commit is to fail to teach him that the real world has expectations no matter who or what you are and if you don’t have some semblance of normalcy in your life, the world will eat you alive. It is very unhealthy to allow any child to live as the opposite gender. He is going to grow up being loved and accepted at home and not understanding why the kids at school can’t stand him – and you’ll never be able to explain it. He will, however, grow up and get over having a few rules in life.