G turned four on Tuesday. I still sit on the edge of his bed some nights, watching him breathe. These past summer weeks have hung hot with humidity. My brain has been foggy with the weight of it. I find fear and worry sliding back in around my thoughts.
I watch G in his idiosyncrasies. I see the elegant ways he carries himself. His gracefulness and his craving to be beautiful will cause him problems in life. I do not doubt it. Fear slides in around my breath.
Tonight the thunderstorms have finally passed through. The air is not so heavy as I keep watch beside him. This is the child, I think, who says: “can we go vote again?” This is the child who says: “Baba, we have to say a pray for the dead squirrel.” And the prayer he says? “May all people be kind and love one another.”
In the stillness of night it dawns on me: if there was ever a little boy who could yearn so badly to be beautiful and carry it off, it would be this one. His brave soul is clear-sighted. What he knows he knows without doubt.
There will be people who tell him boys can’t be beautiful, that he is not good enough, that he’s a disgrace. I’m not going to imagine them and hate them tonight. I’m not going to fear that their short-sightedness will lead G to shame and self-destruction as he grows.
I’m going to remember G’s prayer: there are people who are kind and love one another.
This is the child who sat in a highchair in the diner at 18 months old, wooing the waitresses, I think, The child who made eyes at the motorcycle dude in leathers, waiting for dinner in that same diner, until the dude came over to our table and read books to G. What child woos the motorcycle dude at the diner?
I’m going to remember how I learned to pray: when you worry, don’t ask for the thing you worry about to go away. Ask for the strength to face it.
If I fear that he will be isolated, I have to teach him courage to build real relationships. I have to teach him to trust his values, his heart, even when people say things he doesn’t like. I have to teach him to speak his truth in a way that turns others’ hearts towards him.
When I introduce myself to the other parents on the playground, I pray that I have the courage to say “he loves beautiful things” with composure when they gawk at his bedazzled flip flops and flowing skirt. I pray for the confidence to carry myself with other adults as though it ain’t no thing to see his handsome face ringed by shoulder-length curls. If I am confident, they can relax and feel like they don’t have to make a thing of it, either.
I pray, too, to hold both calm and certainty in my voice when other adults want to, or need to, make a thing of it. I will listen. I will ask them questions about how they think. I will gently work to expand their ideas of gender. The fierceness will beat in my heart; the calm certainty will sound in my voice.
I will build the relationships with the adults so that they let their kids build relationships with G.
If I want him to build real relationships, I have to devote my time and effort to building real relationships for us. It’s okay if the laundry’s not quite done; we are going to go hiking with our friends. It’s okay if the floors aren’t quite scrubbed; my mom is coming to
visit. If I fear that his style and mannerisms will isolate him from the generic crowd, I will build him a devoted inner circle.
For there will be friends who will want to stand beside him as he prays that “all people be kind and love one another.”
Tonight, as I watch his curls splayed out across the pillow, I pray for faith that others love beautiful things, too. For if they love beautiful things, they will love G.