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~Thursday~  I drove in this morning and in spite of having one parking permit left for 2010, I parked in the free two-hour street parking right behind my building as opposed to the parking deck where the permit is valid, which is quite a walk from my building.

That meant I had to move my car in two hours, so at just before 11:00, I ran over to Cameron Village, where I purchased a gift card for Goodberry's Creamery, and returned to the same area, but parked in a different place for another two hours.

Since I was one of the very few people in the office today, I was elected to present the university housekeeper assigned to our building with the annual holiday collection from the people who work in our building. Although I am totally baffled by this "tradition," I agreed to collect the money and present it to her today at 10:00.

I was grateful that about six or seven people came down to the lobby when it was time, and I thanked her for taking care of us, while handing her a card with the cash collection in it.

At another point in the day, I said, "Happy holidays," to someone, and they responded, "You can say Merry Christmas to me."

"Oh okay, well, you never know," I said laughing.

The retort came in a very serious tone, "Well, I know. I honor Christ. So, it's Merry Christmas," he reiterated with the clear message that his right to hear "Merry Christmas" unequivocally outweighed any right I might have to say, "Happy Holidays."

Gee, although I prefer "Happy Holidays," when someone says "Merry Christmas" to me, I thank them and then say, "Happy Holidays," back to them, each person's humanity having been acknowledged and affirmed. I guess recognizing each other's humanity is not very Christian. ♫♫And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.♫♫



I love this first letter to Prudie today, both the question written in by the parents, and the response provided by Prudence. It's a very compassionate letter from the parents, as well as a very compassionate—and informative—response by Prudie.

Dear Prudence:

I am the father of a bright, artistic, and thoughtful 5-year-old boy. He enjoys playing dress-up and, from time to time, putting on his mother's shoes or jewelry and declaring that he is a girl.

Recently, when my wife and I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he told us he wanted a skirt so that he could be a girl. We weren't sure whether he was serious, but when he saw Santa at the mall, he very earnestly declared that he wanted a skirt. Since that time, he has written several letters to Santa, and in each he has asked for a skirt. (As an aside, we gladly let him dress up as the Wicked Witch of the West for Halloween, which provoked some stares and insensitive comments, to which he was thankfully oblivious.)

While we want him to be his own person and be comfortable in his own shoes (ruby or otherwise), my wife and I aren't sure whether to honor this request, as he undoubtedly will want to wear the skirt outside of the home eventually, which leads to a series of difficult conversations that we aren't prepared to have with a kindergartner. Yet we know he will be heartbroken if Santa does not bring him a skirt of his own.

—Conflicted at Christmas

Dear Conflicted,

How lucky that your son has parents such as you, who will adore him, ruby slippers and all. It's too early to know for sure where his desire to dress up will lead. But studies show that little boys with a persistent interest in wearing girls' clothes, and who have other nonconforming gender behaviors, have a strong likelihood of eventually identifying themselves as gay. If that is the case for your son, when the time comes for him to come out, happily for your relationship with him, it will come as no surprise.

My colleague Hanna Rosin's fascinating piece about these children makes the important point that the vast majority are not transsexual. To the concrete-thinking mind of a 5-year-old boy who likes typically girly things, saying he's a girl is a way to express this interest. I spoke with Catherine Tuerk, co-founder of the Gender and Sexuality Development Program at the Children's National Medical Center. She said it's very important that you have a talk with your son because you've got reassuring news to tell him: that although he may suspect he's the only boy who feels the way he does, actually there are a lot of boys like him, and as he gets older, he will make friends with many of them. Explain to him that there are different kinds of boys—he's a boy who's interested in things girls also like, and that's terrific. You can tell him some boys act more like bumblebees, some like butterflies.

When he opens his present, he will see that Santa heard his plea and delivered a skirt. But Tuerk said you need to have another conversation, one that's going to be a little harder, about the skirt. You have to explain to him that not everybody understands how many different kinds of boys there are, and so if he wears his skirt to the playground, or to school, there are going to be people who say mean things or make fun of him. Tell him you want to figure out the places he can wear his skirt—at home, maybe grandma's, etc.—where he can enjoy it and feel comfortable. This conversation is not about conveying shame, but about giving your child good options, and not locking him into a limited identity ("The boy who dresses like a girl!") with his classmates.

As Tuerk points out, often as these boys get a little older the intense desire to dress up wanes, and they find other avenues—art classes, theater—to express their interest in beauty and fabulousness. There are many conversations ahead for all of you, and at the CNMC Web site are materials on childhood gender issues, book suggestions for you and your son, and information about support groups. Talking about your bright, thoughtful, artistic son with other parents of similar children will benefit you and your darling butterfly.

—Prudie


Needless to say, if more parents loved their children like this, and thought about how to help their child feel good about themselves and negotiate their way through this sometimes cruel world, there would, without a doubt, be fewer if any LGBT youth suicides.

The rest of this week's Dear Prudence can be read here.



When I got home from work, I took a glorious 2.5-hour nap, which I noted with a Facebook status as, "I'm going to go watch the back of my eyelids for a while. #REM," and to which my friend Karen Fraser replied, "We call it 'checking for light leaks.'" I love that, and I'm happy to report that I did a thorough check and I did not find any.

After that, I made myself go to the gym after running through several excuses, including: "I don't have time," "I don't really feel like," "It wouldn't hurt that much to skip it," and "I really need to get my greeting cards done."

This is precisely why I like being on a "diet" this time of year; that is, rather than starting one in January, which is the national obsession. :-) Without a doubt, if I wasn't at least watching my weight right now, I surely ("Don't call me Shirley!") would have blown off tonight's workout, which would have been the worst thing to do in this season of extra overeating.

I stopped at the grocery store after my workout, and I'd just like to note that ADHD is not a quality I admire in a checkout cashier. I was holding my hand out with a nickel and a dime in it for the cashier, and he was looking away long enough (at someone doing something in the aisle nearby) that I finally had to say, "Dude!"

He looked back, and said, "Sorry."



In writing out my holiday greeting cards tonight, I came to my friend Karen Caouette, who is the daughter of my Uncle Frank who passed away a couple of years ago, and the stepdaughter of my Aunt Annette, who died in February of this year. At the time of my Aunt's funeral, her long-time companion was fighting a wicked, aggressive, rare form of cancer.

I was going to write to her saying, "Please give Joe my love," but wondered if he could possibly still be with us, although I hadn't heard otherwise. A quick trip to Google, and I was both saddened to read and surprised about the coincidence contained in this obituary column containing his name, Joe Shaheen. (His is the last one on the page.)

The coincidence about this is that the column also contains the obituary of my Uncle Rene! They died so close to the same time, that if I'm reading this information correctly, both of their funerals were going on at the same time in different churches in Fall River.

Joe was one of those rare people, who as soon as you met him, you felt his spirit. Just an all-around fun, loving, and living-life-with-gusto kind of guy. It's really our loss that he passed so young. Rest in peace, my friend.



I went to Trailer Park Prize Night tonight, where I thought it was the "For Colored Girls" show, but it turns out that that's next week's show. However, Mary K. Mart emceed, so of course, the show at least had a chance.

I caught up with Alex, Glenn, and Bob there tonight with the highlight being the farewell to the plus-sized NeturaGina, who was moving to Michigan—to go to law school no less. There's an unusual career trajectory.

Okay, I lied. The highlight was bourbon and Diet Cokes for $3.75 each.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Dec. 25th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Beauty and fabulousness
Would that we were all interested, in our own masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral ways, in beauty and fabulousness. Especially the fabulousness. I may take up its pursuit as a resolution for 2011.

And I'm wracking my memory but swear I have never once heard you say, "Dude."

Happy holidays, my dear friend!
anna
dailyafirmation
Dec. 25th, 2010 03:52 am (UTC)
Re: Beauty and fabulousness

Great resolution, Anna! And with regards to my saying dude. I'm quite sure I could count on one hand the number of times I've said it, and I can say unequivocally, that I've never said it to someone in a customer service situation who I don't know! It surprised even me. Which was kind of fun, actually.

May we all do something this holiday season to give Santa pause. :-)

Edited at 2010-12-25 03:53 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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