Roan’s heard this question often in his six-year stint on planet Earth: “Is that a girl or a boy….?”, in reference to his gender. It doesn’t bug him, or at least he doesn’t act like it does. The thing is, I don’t really get it. I understand his hair is a little long. It is a dreamy mix of white blonde and ash blonde and dark blonde and would probably cost one million dollars to replicate but that doesn’t really seem like the thing. His standard outfit is a pair of track shorts and a t-shirt. He has the requisite amount of bruises and scratches on his legs to totally assert his boyishness, and he’s quite a big kid – no one would really call him “delicate”.
But it happens all the time. On the subway yesterday, “Is that a boy or a girl?”
“He’s my son. He’s a boy.”
“Well he’s gorgeous.” And that is a really really nice and kind thing to say and thank you! But really really wha? Where’s the confusion?
One may point to the painted toenails. I was really surprised at a pretty extreme rejection of Roan’s pedicure by one of my sister’s husbands – a totally cool and sweet and utterly kind man – but he was appalled that Ro was rocking the colors. Well, Roan has taken a shine to getting pedicures with me (and last week with his Aunts and cousin – great bonding time!). But he always goes with the gothic, punk rock, or hair metal favorites – black/blue and neon orange on this last go. It seems to be a pretty normal thing – I mean, who doesn’t love relaxing, having your feet scrubbed while you lose your mind giggling and trying not to kick the pedicurist in the face because it tickles so much, and walking out with a custom-color combo on your toes? Why is that a “girl” thing?
So it’s not a problem, not yet anyway. But I’m guessing if a stranger refers to him as a girl in front of one of his friends, it may become a problem. At this age, Roan probably can’t look to David Bowie for comfort, gorgeous in his androgynous glory, married to the most beautiful woman on the planet. Nope. Instead, Roan’s just going to have to be confident and comfortable in his own summertime sticky skin. Which is probably not a terrible thing to learn, as soon as possible, in life.