Parenting, Thing 1, Unpublished

Sometimes parenting makes me cry.

“You’re about as straight as a circle.”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what someone told my 11-yr-old son recently. I asked him what spawned it, and he couldn’t remember. “He’s always calling me gay and stuff…he’s just weird.” He hears those comments so much he can’t even remember which ones came from what person. It breaks my heart.

LilZ has always been picked on for his interests. He’s never been, what many call, “all boy”. A lot of people would say this is because of my influence, but those close to us know that has nothing to do with it. I’m about as tomboy as a grown woman can be. I tried to forced a love of football on the boy before he was old enough to walk, but he’s never cared for any of it.

(Except the cheerleaders, like any good man, he loves him some cheerleaders.)

I don’t know why his interests have always tended to sway away from sports and games and towards music and dance, but it has. And all I care about is supporting whatever he likes. He’s recently shown interest in dancing and has even asked to take ballroom dance classes with me. (That can be blamed on Drew Lachey who makes it look so DAMN COOL.) There is a huge part of me that wants to call today to find a class for us because he wants to so bad, but I’m also afraid to draw more of a target on him than there already is.

But, why? Why do we live in a society where a girl who plays sports is a tomboy but a boy who likes dancing is called a sissy? And what do we do to change that? I could not be more proud of how little LilZ has never cared about what people say about him. Does he stop liking musicals or dancing because the kids might make fun of him? No. He tends to the wounds they leave with their words, rolls his eyes, and carries on. I don’t know if I could have been as strong.

There is a part of me who wishes he liked more typical boy things so that he wouldn’t be as much of a target of ridicule. But – there is also a huge part of me that finds pride in his uniqueness.

I have never forced anything on him. I expose him to whatever I can, sports, art, music, movies, and then try to pay attention to what peaks his interests. Once I find something he likes? I try to talk to him about it and find ways to nurture those interests. He’s always loved art and drawing, so I sent him to art workshops during the summers. He loves when we pamper ourselves at home with foot soaks and face masks, so I made appointments for us to have a spa day during his spring break. Am I making him more of a target of ridicule when I do things like that? Or am I being a good mom to let him find his own path.

I have no idea. I just try to do what I can to make sure we always have stuff to talk about. I want to participate in his life, whether it’s cheering at his soccer games or singing with his favorite movies. But whatever road he takes, I have always promised to walk with him on it.

I just wish I could kick the asses of the kids mocking him on his journey.

60 thoughts on “Sometimes parenting makes me cry.”

  1. Hey there. 🙂

    My problem is just opposite but so similar. My 6 year old son is a real boys-boy, real sporty and popular. My 8 year old daughter is a human version of the Bratz dolls, real trendy and popular, etc. My oldest daughter who will be 10 this coming summer is still a girly girl but she has two left feet, has a slight “tongue tied” issue and has a heart bigger then her whole body. She is terribly soft spoken and tries to befriend everyone.

    As a result she tries to give the shitty, snotty kids a chance and gets shot down. It kills me. She came home last week and said that her best friend told her that a couple of other kids in their grade said my daughter is “uncool” and that if she continues to be friends with her she also will be uncool. My daughter came home broken hearted and I wanted to go rip these kids parents new assholes for not teaching their kids to be kind to others. The next day thankfully my daughters best friend told her she would rather be uncool and be friends with my daughter then go hang out with the other kids and be mean to people. I was really proud of her friend.

    It really sucks. I wasn’t popular until high school and was picked on when I was little. I know exactly how she feels (but I went thru it worse) and it just kills you as a parent to see kids be mean. If lilz wants to take ballroom dancing let him!! Look at Drew, he won that tacky trophy for his effort and I think thats way cooler then watching football any day!! 🙂

  2. You are doing a GREAT job, Zoot. I think you should be so proud of how is is adjusting, growing, and sounding as though he is having a blast doing it. I have a son who will be 11 next month, and I know this is NOT an easy age. LilZ is doing great. Just keep being proud of him, and everything else will be fine. And I burst out laughing at the kicking of asses part! Hysterical!

  3. You are doing a GREAT job, Zoot. I think you should be so proud of how is is adjusting, growing, and sounding as though he is having a blast doing it. I have a son who will be 11 next month, and I know this is NOT an easy age. LilZ is doing great. Just keep being proud of him, and everything else will be fine. And I burst out laughing at the kicking of asses part! Hysterical!

  4. Being a kid is so damn unfair. I was picked on incessantly. It was horrible and you never forget it. But it’s so great that he doesn’t let that influence him! He’s going to be such a cool adult because he’s going to know who he is and what he wants, unlike all the other lemmings who have just done whatever everyone else said they should do all their lives. He’ll be just fine – mainly because he’s got such a supportive mom around (and cute little sister, too!)

  5. Oh Zoot, what a damn shame. I wish there was something I could say to make it hurt him (and you) less, but … keep doing what you’re doing.

  6. I never comment alot on here, but this is one subject I thought I would jump on. I am so sorry that LilZ is getting picked on, but I will say this, kids can be mean…period. He could be an athlete that played all the sports and he could still be picked on. My husband was into the art, dancing, musicals and I think he turned out fine…very fine. His brother was the athlete, went to college on football scholarship and the whole nine it has very little with what the mom or dad influences. I know at this point I am probably just babbling, but i think you have a well-rounded young man and you and he should be proud of that…and trust me in the long run you will be glad you encouraged what HE likes, not what other kids THINK he should like!

  7. I always tell my sons, both of whom have been insult magnets for various reasons, that virtually all of the ugliness evinced by kids is rooted in insecurity. The kids who are making fun of others with the most merciless intensity are very often the same ones who are most afraid that they are inadequate.

  8. I must weigh in too. I’ll be no help though as I have no idea the right path. I have 4 boys and they are all completely different. My 9 y/o has long hair and gets called a girl all the time. My 6 y/o has both his ears pierced. He’s been teased. The other 2 are more stereotypical boyish. I wish I knew the solution but I say just support them in their interests and listen to them. If you ever find a solution for cruel kids? PLEASE – TELL ME!

  9. The tomboy thing… my daughter gets that all the time. She’s 11 and people tell her she couldn’t be more unladylike or you’ll never get a husband dressing like that (meaning not dresses). One kid even asked her is she was a dyke. She didn’t know what that was. Growing up sucks and sadly there are lots of little brats to make it suck even more.

  10. A metrosexual in the making? It’s obvious he likes girls… so it’s not that he’s gay… but there is nothing wrong with him liking those things. I had many a crush on fellow choir boys and drama dudes. Just means he’s gonna be super cool and artsty and make all the ladies swoon… so let him do what he wants, it’s awesome that you support him.

  11. That makes me so sad. Kids are so stinking mean. LilZ sounds like a great kid and it sounds like your doing a great job nurturing him and his interests. Keep up the good work!!

  12. It really HURTS to see kids pick on your son…

    If my little man follows in his daddy and mom’s footsteps, he will spend most of grade 2-8 being tortured. Course now he wants to spend time with the big kids and the big kids snub him. He’s almost 4 so he doesn’t pick up on that stuff so much. But kids yell at him. And that really hurts his feelings.

    I think the best thing you can do is to be the loving, wonderful mom who accepts him for who he is and lets him know how proud you are of him. In other words, keep doing what you’re doing! I wish I would have had something like that when I came home in tears many a day. And I know my hubby feels the same way (we had the same sort of childhood and the same kinda moms who flew from 0 to raving bitch in 5 seconds.)

    I think its great that you expose your son to lots of stuff and that you follow his cues and nuture his interests. That’s what I’ve been trying to do too.

    And Lil Z is such a sweet kid. I hope my little man is as sensitive and kind as he is.

  13. The only way to avoid being teased in middle school is to be a boring, mindless clone of the popular kids. Everybody gets picked on. You are doing the best possible thing by supporting his interests. When he gets around to high school he will be able to find an ‘artsy’ group of friends, and he will be fine.

  14. Aww poor LilZ. Middle school is tough. Kids can be so cruel sometimes(adults as well) I think it is great that he has unique likes. The other kids are probably just jealous of him and his awesome family. It’s rare these days when kids still have good homes. I hope things improve, if not if you want I can come kick some middle school butt for you. I still look like a little kid, I’m sure I would blend in. 🙂

  15. Not that it makes LilZ (or you) feel any better, but EVERYONE gets picked on at that age. He’s obviously a totally cool, open-minded, and well-adjusted kid, and all of his varied interests only mean that he will fit in with more “groups” than the average kid. You are right to be so proud of him (and yourself!) that he would rather be independent and do the things that he loves (even if it means getting picked on) than just follow the herd.

    (Oh, and all girls love a guy who can sing and dance!)

  16. And I wish I could kick their asses right along with you. I wish I knew why kids had to be so cruel to each other. Nothing, the rest of our lives, comes even close to mimicing it. Yes, even juvenile reality shows. 😉

    Rest assured you are a FANTASTIC mom and he’ll always know that about you and remember the wonderful things you did for and with him. I can’t blame you for wanting to take away his hurt and I wish I knew it would get better from here on out and not worse, but he’s got such a strong foundation to work from. Trust in that.

  17. Zoot, you are such a great Mom. Don’t ever stop doing things with LilZ, because he loves it and he loves you! To hell with anyone who has a problem with that. We can’t all be what people call, “a boys, boy”. Yuck how dull! My hubby liked to run in school, but he also sang in the chorus and loves art. The fact is, he is interested in a lot more things than most people. In my book it makes him MORE of a man, not less.
    LilZ is a great, nice, honest, interesting and interested kid. You are raising him right, and he is so lucky to have you and MrZ.
    Yeah, middle school kids can be jerks, but ya know, if he is getting positive feedback from you, it won’t matter a bit!
    Rock on LilZ!!!

  18. Zoot, I’m sorry. My younger brothers are also not “all boy”, and they both have pretty girlfriends, so there goes that theory. (Actually, the girls will faun after him, as he won’t be a boing lunkhead.) But yea, kids are mean to each other, and I don’t know why. LilZ has a good support system- he’ll come out of it just fine.

  19. Zoot! You are an AWESOME mother. I can tell that by the reactions that LilZ has towards the ones who pick on him. It takes one tough little man to have his kind of attitude. I don’t need to re-iterate what others have said before me (that kids are cruel and mean), however I know LilZ will get through this tough time with the love and support of his family and become one helluva a man! Go LilZ!!!

  20. Zoot. You are one kick ass mumma. Like many have already said, middle school is the *worst* time for all kids. Also, huge props for LilZ for being himself. You’re doing what I would do, or at least hope to do, in supporting him whatever he decides his interests are, and accepting them without shame. I know a lot of parents out there would be way less accepting, and LilZ is going to knock ’em dead when he starts being interested in relationships. Yay for both of you!!

  21. Just for the record, all those sex symbols in Hollywood were theatre geeks.

    Sometimes, it isn’t about the journey, it’s about the destination.

    When LilZ is a grown man, he’ll be well-rounded, sensitive, a good citizen and a kind man. Who could want more for their kid than that?

  22. My hubby was never into sports as a kid- all he wanted to do was play music. And his dad always told him he was going to turn “gay”- moron that he is…
    Little boys and girls need to be encouraged in their talents, not what society expects them to be or do. You are doing the right thing by lilZ, Zoot. Keep at it!

  23. I do believe that has got to be the toughest part about parenting…you feel every slight your child experiences, tenfold. It’s so so so hard to let them learn about the world like that, but so so so necessary. Sounds like he has a fantastic head on his shoulders. You have every right to be way proud.

  24. Oh, I so hate that, both for LilZ and you. From what I’ve seen and heard about LilZ, he is a fantastic kid–the exact same kind of guy that I hope my Alex becomes.

    As proud as you are of his uniqueness and talents, I can only imagine how it hurts to know that someone has hurt his feelings. I’m so sorry.

  25. Unfortunately mother’s who kick-ass do not help their kids at all with the “getting along” situation even though that was always my deepest “desire”! We all hate to see our beautiful young children get picked on, but almost ALL of them do!! Just, for different reasons.

    My kids both grew and matured REALLY late!!! My daughter got teased about being “flat chested”, and then about being tall and skinny (6’1″ tall) by her late teens. Yet for the most part she was a pretty, athletic, smart and nice kid.

    My son, who FINALLY grew and had his voice change in the past year (he’s 19) got called a girl (voice), bugged about being skinny, and looking 12 years old (which he did). Now he’s 6’3″ tall and can kick all their butts! He was also, actually very popular, super athletic (until his size started to affect sports), but he was into drama… voted the Best Drama Student in his senior year, and found his own way.

    Fortunately Lil Zoot sounds like my kids in that he’s going to be able to keep the “teasing” in perspective, and not lose confidence in himself in the process. It will make him such a strong, outgoing adult! It did for mine.

  26. Those boys that are teasing him are going to be eating their hearts out when its them holding the wall up at the high school dance and LilZ is the one out on the dance floor with one hottie after another.

  27. Everyone at my house thinks LilZ rocks!!! My son wants to be him when he grows up! The best part of being yourself is that you aren’t like anybody else! LilZ is just to cool for some kids!

  28. Ah, Zoot, I think you’re a great mom, and agree that you should continue to allow LilZ to grow in whatever direction he wants. I hate that there are “boy activities” and “girl activities”. Kids ought to be able to do what keeps them healthy and happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else.

  29. I just love your outlook on your sons situation – it is so true that our society does not tolerate much meandering from the mean – it is such a shame. I’m so glad to read that you don’t stifle your son’s creativity, but foster it. That will help him to grow to be a happy, well-rounded adult and not someone who thinks he’s “wrong” all the time. Your son sounds like the kind of boy I hope my daughter dates when she gets old enough (ee-gads, she’s only 5!).
    I hope my son develops fun and creative talents like yours – good job!

  30. Kids can be so damn cruel. But good for you for supporting your son’s uniqueness. I have no advice for you. If I knew the answer to dealing with children who were obviously raised wrong, I wouldn’t have been picked on all throughout my childhood and I wouldn’t be the antisocialcoder I am today.

  31. YEAH!!! What Contrary said!!! You know why EVERYONE gets defensive and sad for LilZ?? ‘Cuz almost EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US. have been ridiculed. It hurts so bad, and we probably always carry some of that pain, but for LilZ? Look at the positve affirmation and influence he gets ALL the time!! He’s gonna be a friggin rockstar while the rest of those guys only get off the sofa to crack open a beer!! Remind LilZ of that. Tell him to just ask Avril…

    (((HUGS))) I know how it hurts when someone hurts OUR babies.

  32. You tell him what Husband taught me, “You can’t be hurt by people you don’t respect.”

    And THEN you tell him that Mikhail Baryshnikov is one of the hottest men walking this earth.

    I mean, come on, the man can put his foot up a wall! ‘Nuff said.

  33. Sounds like you are doing a great job! “As straight as a circle?” That kid is just repeating what he’s probably heard form his parents, or from another kid who heard it form his parents. LilZ is lucky to have a mother like you to teach him compassion, and to support him in his interests.

    (Of course i’d love to kick those other kids’ asses too!)

    By the way, I’m luvin me some gmail!

  34. As a high-school girl in forensics, which is acting, speech, and debate, nothing is cooler than the guy who can talk to you about music and art.

    I, myself, can’t stand the guys who only want to talk about football. And football. And maybe basketball. I have requirements that if I’m going to have a conversation with you, it better turn intelligent. And your son sounds like he’s on his way to fitting that description PERFECTLY.

    I’d totally kick some ass, too. Being made fun of is.. not fun. I mean, who would have guessed, right?

  35. Hmm, I see dancing as being an asset for any guy…I guess other 11 year old boys might not see it that way though.

    I think…and this is just my random I-don’t-have-any-kids-opinion…but I think it is good you support him in what he wants to do. Because he seems like an amazing kid and you shouldn’t change him for the world. He is an amazing kid and will turn into an amazing adult 🙂

    But…perhaps you shouldn’t let him cook… 😉

  36. Your the best Mom Miss Zoot. LilZ is lucky to have you. Don’t let him fall into the trap of all those labels.

  37. Kids can be so mean sometimes. But kids like LilZ are the ones who become something huge in life. He may not be all boy but who cares. The best men I have ever met in my life are those that are not all man if that makes sense. My hubby is into decorating and cooking and hates sports but he is a super well rounded person who has gone very far in life. I know at this age its hard on him to hear those things but he will develop into an awesome….real man!

  38. Good for your son. He is more man than any of them to go after his dreams and not worry about others. If only all kids were as secure the others would not feel the need to tease him for his differences….. In college all the girls will think he is hot because he is an artist and musical. Were I live there is actually a ballroom dancing class for the junior high age kids that is a “most do” for the cool kids. They have been doing it for years and it always has a waiting list.

  39. Good for him and good for you too! I have a five month old son and I have all of these hopes and dreams that he will be an awesome athlete, because that is what I want for him. Youre a great mom for being able to nuture his interests so selflessly. I hope I’ll be able to put my own competitive drive aside and do that when (and if) the time comes.

  40. You already have so many supportive comments here, but I want to add my props. It’s awesome that you support what Z wants to do and I hope that he continues coloring outside of the lines. You are great parent and it’s obvious you are raising cool kids. 🙂

  41. Mean kids suck, and I am totally dreading middle school because of that fact. I hate it when kids pick on other kids, and call names. You are an awesome mom for supporting him no matter what he chooses to do. He is obviously a very self confident boy, or he wouldn’t be able to shrug it off and keep doing his thing. Good for him!

  42. I read enough of the above comments to agree with what the rest were saying; you are doing absolutely the right thing with him! The first 18-21 years can be a bitch especially the middle school years, however, he is well on his way to becoming the kind of man who will be sucessful as a human being and THAT will be what he really needs to see him through the next 80 years of his life.

  43. You have to let him do what makes him happy. I know 3 boys that are 13 right now, and all 3 of them are into totally different things. My cousin is a real sports kind of guy, my boyfriends little brother does nothing but play video games all day. My best friends little brother dances up at our dance studio.

    Boys will be boys, and all boys will be different. My boyfriend, when he was younger, played the clarinet. His best friend played the flute. One of my guy friends played the viola, while a few others played the violin.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make, let him do what makes him happy. If its something he wants to do, then he should go for it, by all means. Yes, he might get picked on and teased, but if he can handle it then it only makes him stronger in the end. A lot of it could have to do with the other childrens own self insecurity of wanting to do something they enjoy but are afraid of what their friends might say. Who knows, maybe these boys really sit at home all night knitting with their grandmothers, but are too embarassed to admit it. =)

  44. I’ve always thought LilZ sounded like such an awesome kid, because he’s into what makes HIM happy. And I’ve always thought you were an awesome mother for encouraging. that. I know it’s easy to tell him not to worry about the kids that say evil shit now, but almost impossible to do. Maybe it would help to know that he’s most likely going to be an awesome, well-rounded man who’s comfortable with who he is … and the ladies are gonna be ALL OVER that!

  45. I can so relate! My son, age 11 now, has been in a professional children’s theatre troop since he was 8. During that time, he has had to dress up as a lobster, a cowboy, a leprechaun, a keystone cop, a crocodile, and yes, he has worn many a pair of tights while singing about it. The tights haven’t made him gay any more than the lobster costume has made him a crustacean. He has taken a fair amount of crap from his classmates, though never his close friends. His response is always, “Um, yeah, have you seen the GIRLS in that troop?! I’m just a rooster in the hen house, getting all the babes.” I’m so proud of him, both because he is extemely talented (and I’m not biased at all!) but also because he lets the comments slide past him because he knows they aren’t true and also because they don’t line up with what he believes about himself. I think it helps that you and I share a philosophy in that I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if he WAS gay. I would feel sorry for him for the crap he would have to take in his life because of it, but it wouldn’t change one iota of how I feel about him. Tell Lil’Z to hang in there, and remind him that Barishnikov and Michael Flatley have NO trouble getting women. I vote yes on the ballroom lessons! His future wife will love you.

  46. Dear LilZ,

    Share a joke, hum a song
    Pass a little joy along
    If someone comes along your way
    Who doesn’t share your joy today.
    The H*ll with’em!

    My 15 year old stepson takes ballroom dance lessons every week with a bunch of his guy friends. Now their girl friends are wanting to start going because it is so cool.

    Do what you want. You know the real you.


  47. You are raising the nice guy. I’m married to one and he is wonderful and what all of my woman friends ultimately want at the end of the day. So you should be proud that you are raising the nice guy for someone someday. Thank you in advance!


  48. I know you may think this a**vice but I have a 17 yr old boy and this is what I know so far:
    1. You both just need to put your head down and get through these next few years. Middle Schoolers are greasy, stinky, obnoxious, and mean. Its the hormones.
    2. Balance is good for kids, so maybe Drama class mixed with Soccer practice. Twelve year olds should not go to the spa, it’s an adult indulgence (sorry:().
    3. Learning to live in a society that expects the “norm” is not easy at any age but essential. How many of us have had to work for a boss we hated because we needed the money?
    Zoot, you’re a very good mother, good mothers worry about these things.

  49. I talked my super-tough-guy into taking ballroom dance and he became totally empowered!! He loved it! and he got really good at it…and lemme tell you…lil’z will be the hero of his high school dances if he actually knows HOW to dance and not HOW to lean against the wall and throw things at girls….get that boy in some dancin!!

  50. Hi Zoot! I have been reading your journal for a while and thought I would pipe in. My boy sounds very similar to yours…He loves to sing and dance and is very artistic. I understand how angry you get when he is mocked for not being a little hellion…hell I have even quit speaking to one of my brothers because of that fact alone. Anyways you’re a great mom and keep up with what you are doing!

    PS – My son asked his Papa for a pair of tap dance shoes for his birthday.

    PPS- He is also the top of his class in Tae Kwon Do… After a few years no one will have the balls to mock him. 🙂

  51. You should totally take LilZ to ballroom classes! I go and love it – and believe me, young guys are a rarity and are VERY popular at places like that. Even the most manly of men (in middle school) will have to respect that reasoning! AND, he’ll be a popular partner at school dances.

  52. Children can be so cruel. They mock and make fun of what they don’t understand and they do it to make themselves feel better. I was constantly teased for being fat and tall. You are an amazing parent and you are doing all of the right things. LilZ should be free to follow whatever interests he has and you are a great parent for encouraging his creativity. Some day the other kids will catch up…they are just too narrowminded now to get it.

  53. Wow you sound like the greatest mom! Really supportive of your son. It’s cool he does he own thing and has the confidence not to cave into the jeers from his peers. Obviously you’ve given him the security to be himself. I hope he stays this way and doesn’t change during his teen years. I was a weirdo, uncool kid and when I grew up I got to be an animator.

  54. Zoot, I have similar issues. M is not into sports at all, will only watch because my husband loves it so. He, too, loves art and drawing and making up “imaginary (yet complex!) worlds”. I know that he’s getting some ridicule for some of the things he does, but I can’t imagine what it is like to be him on a daily basis, having to deal with everything that he does. If letting him have some enjoyment that makes him happy, in the long run, will be more empowering for him than trying to get him to “go with the flow”. As much as M wants to “fit in”, I know that, in time, as long as he’s happy with himself and his likes, the rest will take care of itself. It sounds like you have that covered with LilZ. I know how you feel though, I second guess myself a lot.

    Besides, I’m looking forward to seeing him in High School Musical 2 or 3, since I can’t seem to see the first one!

    Have a great day!

  55. When my daughter took dance, there was 1 boy in a tap class with 12 girls. His mom said he came home from every class in love with a different girl. Girls really like guys that can dance.

  56. Zoot,

    This is my first time reading here and I’m really glad I stopped in and read this post. My son is 8 and is very much like lilZ. He’s not into sports of any kind, loves to draw and colour, wants to take singing and dancing…but he loves him some girls. In fact, the girls at school are the only ones who will befriend him (and not many do). He pretends that having no friends is okay, but seeing his little lip quiver sometimes when he describes another day alone on the playground breaks my heart. He seems to have nothing in common with the other boys and is teased about it a lot.

    Anyways, I just wanted to thank you for writing that post and I’m sending it to my husband to read. We both struggle with how to help him through it all. You sound like you’ve got it all under control and I commend you for that.


  57. LilZ is the kinda kid I woulda wanted as my friend at school. I was bullied incessantly and I’m still not really over it. I think he’s awesome and I think he should do whatever he wants to do – I try not to care any more what anyone thinks and I’m a lot better off for it.

  58. Gay, straight, whatever; guaranteed in a year’s time he’ll be surrounded by girls who realise that they want to be friends with the guys who don’t think that indian burns = flirting.

    And if it gets really bad, call me, I’ll snap the little fuckers over my knee alongside you, just gimme a living room floor to sleep on and don’t make me eat any penis pudding.

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