On Raising Peter Pan and Tinkerbell

IMG_7163I think it is pretty clear to anyone who has read the blog, or met my family, that we don’t really fit into any boxes that have been set up by the world. Even within the world we have chosen to live in, this freer world, we still don’t fit in any box but our own. We are too Christian for the Unschool groups, not Christian “enough” for the Christian groups. Too crunchy for the mainstream people, too Disney for the crunchies. But we like it here. We often say we live in Neverland, it is even our license plate. We choose to live here, and for us it is a positive place. It was not until recently that I realized our ties to Neverland go deeper.
We are Disney Junkies. We go to Disney World and live in the magic at least once a year. That isn’t it…..I played Wendy in Peter Pan as a kid….still not it……I look at my kids and see it… I am raising Peter Pan and Tinkerbell!
I have 4 beautiful amazing children. Two boys, two girls. One of them is a Fairy Princess. His name is Patrick. Since babyhood he has put towels on his head and danced around in a tutu. Princesses and fairies are his favorite thing. He identifies as a boy. People out in the world always call him a girl and he always corrects them, sometimes getting frustrated and irritated. I have been explaining to him for years that people just assume a person with beautiful long blonde curls, carrying a Barbie and wearing pink shoes is a girl. He used to always have a tutu on over his clothes so it made sense, I guess, but he was not able to understand it. In Neverland where we live the fairies can be fierce and feminine, dainty and masculine; mermaids can be tricky and sweet; heroes can be Amazons as easily as they can be Hulks; Indians can be princesses and warriors, and he can be a boy who likes girl things. The freedom to choose your gender is definitely emerging everywhere. People are free to be who they want to be and that is amazing. But the gender roles are still narrowly defined. We have long given girls the rite to play sports and wear pants. But what about the rite for a boy to do ballet and play with Barbies? Patrick is a boy. He is young, only 6 years old, and he is a boy who wants to be a Fairy Princess. And I am glad he has the feisty spirit of Tinkerbell so he can continue to be who he wants to be.
His sidekick at home is Peter Pan, a boy who does not want to grow up. He is independent, bright, responsible, smart, but childlike. He loves toys, and freedom, playing and imagination. He loves his family. And he does not like to identify his age because the mainstream world has such ridiculous connotations of what it means to be “a teen”. When he was 10 people started to make a big deal about “double digits”. He was upset for a bit, but then realized the number didn’t matter. He chose to see The Wiggles live on his 10th birthday and when someone handed him a “10” candle, he broke it and said “the numbers don’t mean anything”. The birthday that just passed brought a lot of anxiety. Now people said he was a “teenager”. We had long talked about how different ages are viewed around the world, how the concept of age changes over time and that he has the freedom in his life to be who he wants to be, and it does not need to be defined by the ridiculous ideas that society assigns to a particular number. I remember getting in to the teen years. I still played with dolls, I got a long with my mom, I used my imagination. I liked boys and music, spent time with my friends, but I had the freedom to make all those things work together. I hated seeing how teenagers were portrayed in the media, hated that people would think of me that way. Martin is the same. But here in Neverland he has the freedom to age at his own pace. Don’t misunderstand me, he is not immature. He is not shirking responsibility. He is just embracing all sides of himself. Martin has a few friends who are a couple of years older than him and I remember both of them visiting us in Neverland at different times. I would watch them jump headlong into the cartoons we were watching, play with the action figures with an excitement that showed they were not able to play that way out in the “real world”. I am glad that Martin has many friends who still embrace the child inside as they expand their horizons. And I am glad that my Peter Pan knows who he is and is comfortable with himself and his interests and does not let the number define him. If adults can be 29 till they are 85, he can be whatever age he feels.
The narrow definitions we have of age, and gender are definitely widening. Johnny Rotten is about to tour with PIL at 59. Mick Jagger is rocking out at 72. Caitlyn Jenner just became herself. I hope that these people are showing the children and adults of today that people do not need to live by the definitions that society sets up. Gender identification in children seems to be improving. I hope that as age identification in adults changes it will make its way down to kids as well so that they can be who they are, like what they like, not what society determines they should like “for their age” or their gender. Until then, I am glad to be living in Neverland.

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One Response to On Raising Peter Pan and Tinkerbell

  1. Jodie says:

    Yeah you for allowing him to dress and play as he pleases. News articles that attach gender identification to how children choose to dress and play upset me a lot. Yes, maybe when they are 30 they will identify with something other than their birth gender and that is perfectly fine. Just let them be. One of my brothers, one of my sons, some sons of my friends all enjoyed “girl” clothes and play and the vast majority of them identify as male. And the same proportion of girls enjoyed “boy” stuff and identify as female. If you look across time and culture the current U.S. boy fashion scene is an aesthetic desert. Who can blame them.

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