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Getting Political

This is Dexter. He is two years old. He loves to be Batman and Superman and Spiderman. He’s a real boy’s boy. He pretends he is flying, and he captures the baddies who threaten us.

Super Hero

He is the sweetest little troublemaker you’ll ever meet.

Some other things you might like to know about Dexter:

He is a fabulous big brother. He was a later bloomer vocabulary-wise. He used to be terribly shy but has recently begun to come out of his shell. He loves new people and enjoys greeting them with a big “HI!” when he meets one.

His favorite color is pink. He loves Dora the Explorer. He has been known to wear my skirt as a dress, and he delights in cuddling with his mama.

Dexter Loves

Last night, I took my two boys out to pick up a couple of things from WalMart. Mark had to catch up on some work, so I ventured out on my own, which is something I don’t do very often. It takes a lot of work to get the kids ready, get them in and out of the car, find a shopping cart, keep them happy while I shop and get them home in one piece. You parents will understand this.

After struggling to get him dressed and get his shoes on, I had to pry an overlarge teddy bear out of Dexter’s arms, as he was set on taking him with us. This brought on tears and tantrums, which I somehow managed to calm very quickly. But when I attempted to remove my discarded lace flower headband from his head (which he’d been wearing all day), I saw him getting ready to fight, so I left him to it. Who was he hurting?

We got to the store, and amazingly I managed to get him to sit in the shopping cart with no issues. The fact he was wearing a cute girly headband made him feel good, and he was charming all the old ladies by waving like a little pageant prince. I snapped his photo after two old birds came up to tell me just how adorable he was.

Flowery Headband

He rocked that headband.

Soon enough, we were done with our shop and were making our way toward the front. As we passed through the produce section, two teenage girls began giggling and one of them asked, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I smiled and said, “He’s a boy.” I looked on at him adoringly as they continued to giggle.

Out of nowhere a big booming voice rang out. “THAT’S a BOY?!” The man was overly large with a bushy beard and a camouflage shirt with the arms cut off. He had tattered shorts and lace up work boots with no laces. I could smell the fug of cigarette smoke surrounding him, and there was a definite pong of beer on him.

“Yes,” I said simply, still smiling.

With no notice, the man stepped forward, grabbed the headband off of Dexter’s head and threw it to the bottom of our shopping cart. He then cuffed Dexter around the side of his head (not hard, but that is not the point) and said with a big laugh, “You’ll thank me later, little man!”

At the same time as I stepped forward, Dexter grabbed his head where the man had smacked him and threw his other hand forward, stomping his foot and shouting, “NO!” I got between my son and this man and said very firmly, “If you touch my son again, I will cut your damn hands off.”

The guy snarled at me, looked at Dexter with disgust and said, “Your son is a fucking faggot.” He then started sauntering out, but not before he threw over his shoulder, “He’ll get shot for it one day.”

I stood there, shaking, fists clenched, waiting for the man to disappear out the door, and then I fell apart. I was shaking so hard, holding back tears and comforting Dexter.

Not a single person said or did anything. There were several people who had witnessed the encounter, but not one of them came over to offer support or console me or my son.

Let me repeat to you: Dexter is TWO YEARS OLD.

I was there with a two year old and a five month old baby, and my kid had been verbally and physically assaulted by a man. And no one did a thing.

I made my way to the front, still in shock, and I paid for my items and left. I did not report it to the management nor to the authorities, though I am considering doing both. But as I live in a tourist area, I doubt there is anything I can do to find the man – he could be anyone from anywhere.

It’s been almost 24 hours, and I’ve vented on Facebook and had many supportive comments. I have calmed down. I am able to look at the situation with as much objectivity as I am capable of.

There is so much wrong with what happened that I don’t even know where to begin.

This man removed an article of clothing that my son was wearing. It doesn’t matter that it was a headband. It is never okay.

This man forcefully touched my child without permission. He thought he was being funny. I did NOT think he was.

He called my son an extremely derogatory word AND suggested that he deserved to die.

How is ANY of this okay?!

THIS is what bigotry looks like.

A grown man who should know better decided it was okay to step in and “teach” my child what it is to be manly. He thought it was okay to judge my child because he was not adhering to HIS idea of what a little boy should be. Clearly, the man was a homophobe, which is bad enough – but to attribute gay tendencies to a two year old is as RIDICULOUS as attributing STRAIGHT tendencies to a two year old. It just doesn’t compute!

A two year old HAS no sexuality.

To think you can “teach” a child to be a certain way is unbelievable. Even if being gay is a lifestyle choice (which I don’t believe for a second), it is not a choice that a toddler can ever make. And much like little girls can play baseball or enjoy monster trucks, little boys can and do play dress up with mommy’s clothes, accessories, makeup, etc. Everything is new and exciting to a kid, and they learn by trying new things.

Mark and I are both completely supportive of love in all forms. Be you gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual or polygamous, it is YOUR business. I don’t judge, and I don’t try and change you.

And if one or both of my kids grow up to realise they are any of these things, it will not change a thing about how I feel toward them.

But right now, the fact that homophobia is so rampant, that gay marriage is still seen as dirty because homosexuals are “lesser” somehow and don’t deserve to have the same rights as straight folk, that people like that man in WalMart even EXIST makes me fear for my kids and their futures.

While we may accept and support whoever our kids turn out to be, I am scared beyond words at what it would mean for them if they ARE gay. Why should anyone have to live in fear because they fall in love with someone that you or someone else doesn’t agree with? Why should mothers and fathers of gay kids have to have an extra layer of terror at night because they know that the world at large is against their child?

Why does it matter? Do you really think your God or your Jesus or your deity of choice would be as judgemental as you seem to be? Even the POPE has come out and said it’s okay to be gay.

But all of this aside, whatever stance you take on the debate, it is a complete farce to ever allow your fear or disgust with an ADULT lifestyle color your view of a child!

And it is NEVER EVER okay to touch a kid who isn’t yours without permission. EVERYONE, even children, deserve respect.

 

AN UPDATE – 7/31/13

UPDATE 8/1/13 – I have disabled further commenting on this post. Thank you to all those who sent out words of love and support. They were heard and appreciated. But it has become nearly impossible to moderate the comments because so many are coming in. And as there are many nasty comments and trolls here, I want to save myself and my family the stress and remove the option to comment. Thank you.

A Few Things – 8/3/13

Delicious moussaka recipe. Make ahead for an easy freezer-meal or take to a potluck event!
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Make Ahead Moussaka
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An Update

Cindy

Thursday 1st of August 2013

Your son was a victim of a hate crime. It's stunning when it first happens, you can't really believe it's happening and because it's the first time and he's so young, you're not really sure what to do. You will figure it out, I did. My family experienced similar situations. One of the things you said that resonated with me was the fear you have for your son, that someone feels it's ok to assault him and hurt him because they perceive your son as gay. Boys are especially harassed and bullied from an early age for these things. I had to take on a young mother in a mall one day who felt she could verbally assault my son with homophobic slurs. She had two children with her! I will never understand that - but the fear you feel is real and one I live with everyday. I hope the world is changing but if it is, it's because of conversations like this that bring homophobia out into the light where it can be shamed into non-existence.

Adrian

Thursday 1st of August 2013

Thank you. Tanya had no right to say any of that. Until she has been in a situation such as this, she can't say this, and you should NEVER blame the victim. Also, I don't believe the mother wanted someone to come in and comfort her because "the world revolves around her and her son". Not standing up for someone being bullied is a form of bullying in itself.

Elizabeth Zazalak

Thursday 1st of August 2013

This is not ok. You need to go to report it to Walmart, and the police. Walmart has video, they will have it on feed. He HIT your child, and basically threatened death. That is against the law. He cannot for one second be allowed to believe what he did was right (IT WILL NEVER BE). This hits especially close, as my boy is almost 2, and I have just learned about Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, who has recently waged his own war on gays. I have decided that I will change that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/opinion/russias-anti-gay-crackdown.html?_r=1& Katie, I can only imagine your anger, but we are both so lucky that the man who hit your boy (and people like him) are not in power. In Russia homosexuals are not as lucky, they have made it illegal to be gay. Recall Hitler did that once as well... For those of you who know love is love in any form, tell the world about Vladimir Putin. If we don't speak up no one will.

Pamela Tee

Thursday 1st of August 2013

I got this link from FB and I gotta say that your boy is a beautiful kid! And don't let that monster bring you guys down! If he can call a 2 year old such foul names in public, the man is worst than scum! A stranger putting his hands on a child without permission from the parents is just wrong! If you still feel horrible about it, just report it to the authorities and check out the surveillance tape, you might just teach this bully a lesson or two. Your son is very lucky to have such a accepting and loving mother! Stay strong! All the good people in the world are behind ya! ^^

expatsayswow

Thursday 1st of August 2013

I don't live in the United States anymore, for a set of complicated reasons. Some of those reasons involve extreme frustration with politics and disenchantment with the kind of values that I think are misplaced or misguided.

However, there are things about the US that I think are great. One of them is this: if you stripped your situation down to bare bones: "an adult approached a two-year-old and physically assaulted the child without reason", I'd guess most people from the US would say that (1) that is unacceptable / wrong behavior and (2) what he did is punishable under our system of law. A large chunk would also say that the adult's words, using hate speech toward a particular group, make the actions more severely punishable.

*These* attitudes--supporting a person's rights to his/her body, defending the kind of individualism displayed by your son and yourself, and practicing sensitivity toward the different ways we identify ourselves--are what make the US great.

This man should be punished, and the girls who drew attention to you in the first place should be ashamed of themselves--as should the people in the store who didn't help you.

You should make your own decision about whether to pursue the matter any further. However, rest assured knowing that as many jerks as there are in the world, there are just as many (if not more) people who are supportive of you and your son.

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