When my oldest son was a toddler, he fell in love with my daughter’s red, patent leather shoes. My husband just about shit his pants when he saw his namesake, prancing around in pretty little mary janes. He demanded that the shoes be taken off and hidden from his son’s view. Talk about paranoid! Our families tried to convince my husband that wearing girly shoes would not turn him into a flaming homo, but my husband was not about to take any chances. As little girls, my sisters and I absolutely adored dressing up and playing pretend. Sometimes we pretended to be men. Did any of us grow up to be lesbians? Nope. It was just fun to be something that we knew could never really be (without an expensive operation, of course.) My husband, being the black and white thinker that he is, did not give a rat’s patootie about my childhood stories of cross dressing and its harmless implications. No son of his would ever, ever be allowed to play with a Barbie or look like a drag queen. That was about six years ago. My how some things have changed…
Five kids and four sons later, my husband has learned to loosen up. Not because he found some source of enlightenment, but out of sheer necessity. It takes way too much time and energy to try and keep five boys from doing anything remotely emasculating. Sure, he tries to instill a love of football, ultimate fighting and belching the alphabet, in each son. What father doesn’t? He does, however, let certain behaviors and activities slide now. He has given up the quest to keep them away from Barbie dolls. I think he has seen the value of roll playing in learning social norms. Or maybe he grew tired of trying to hide the Barbies, only to hear my daughter whine about being bored. She did not get a sister until six years after her birth, making her brothers the obvious choice to play the part of Ken.
There are some things that are off limits to our sons, in Dad’s book. He does not allow them to take dance class, unless it is Hip Hop or Break Dancing. He will never be okay with the boys experimenting with make up. Nail polish, ear piercings and long hair are permanently on his list of “Hell No’ items. God forbid one of our sons decides that he is gay. My husband could give a damn if somebody else has a homosexual son, but it would kill him to see his son “float around the room like a fairy.” Some things will never change. You can imagine his reaction when I showed him this picture of Reed, our youngest son, donning the thong undies that he stole from my drawer and made into a leotard:
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