The Next Year

The next year was basically more of the same.  Robin had issues in school.  She said it was because she wasn’t girly.  I, of course, told her she didn’t have to be girly; she only had to be herself.  I was worried about Robin in school because I thought the other girls were being mean to her.  She said they called her a “tomboy”.  I always told her nothing was wrong with being a tomboy.  I was secretly happy that Robin wasn’t thinking about boyfriends and learning how to “twerk” like some of her friends.  At the same time I was wondering why she never talked about playing with her “best friends” while in school.  Why didn’t they ask to come over like they once did. Those girls always wanted to come to our house or go somewhere with us.  But, it seemed they were growing apart.

By fifth grade, Robin only talked about playing with boys at school.  She had new best friends; when I asked about her best friends since kindergarten Robin said they were still her friends they just had other friends.  When I asked why she never played with girls, Robin said they didn’t want to play with her.  It broke my heart. Fifth grade was a rough year.  There were fights, obvious defiance, teachers calling home, the counselor saying Robin didn’t seem to be that sweet little girl that just wanted everyone to be happy.  My baby was struggling and I didn’t know what to do.

When Robin asked me if I would always love her, “no matter what”.  I knew that something big was coming. I told her there was nothing, absolutely nothing in this world that would make me stop loving her. And I started telling her I loved her all the time.  Not that I didn’t before, I just did it more consciously because I knew she needed reassurance.  When Robin asked that question, she looked up at me, with her big beautiful eyes, and she looked so scared.  I had to let her know that my love was a constant, no matter what.

Not much later, Robin told me she was gay. I knew it was coming, so I just said “okay”.  Then, I asked her if she knew what that meant.  She explained in exactly the way you would expect a child to explain something like that.  Robin said gay is when a boy likes another boy and a girl likes another girl. I couldn’t help but to tell her that just because a person likes another person of the same sex, it doesn’t mean their gay.  I said friends like each other and aren’t gay.  I also said that I thought she was too young to label herself; she had plenty of time to figure out that type of stuff  I said a lot; trying to convince myself. Fifth grade was a very rough year.

The Year

What was so memorable about the 8th year that made it a “bad year” in my recollection?  Well, as I said before, nothing really stood out in my mind until now, when the pieces started coming together. 

What was so memorable about the 8th year that made it a “bad year” in my recollection?  Well, as I said before, nothing really stood out in my mind until now, when the pieces started coming together.

Robin was 8 years old when she became so wary of wearing a dress that she would literally come to tears.  She insisted she felt “uncomfortable” and wanted to wear shorts underneath any time I made her wear them.  At the time, I’m thinking to myself that she was overreacting and being dramatic.  I could not understand why the child was so opposed to wearing a dress when I only really insisted for church or special occasions. I mean, I had stopped buying her skirts and dresses for school by the first grade because they were never worn!  Any time Robin wore a dress she seemed absolutely miserable.  I was frustrated and embarrassed. I didn’t want to go anywhere with a sad and dejected child, with everyone asking, “what’s wrong with Robin,” when the only answer I could give was, “she’s wearing a dress”.  I didn’t want to force her to wear what I wanted her to wear and stifle her expression.  I always told her that she didn’t have to be like everybody else; just be you.  So, how could I then force her into clothing that I and society deemed suitable.

Then came the hair.  Every day that seemed to be a battle.  I loved combing Robin’s hair into cute little styles.  But all of a sudden she didn’t like ponytails.  She only wanted to wear one puff and it couldn’t be too high on her head.  So, I got it braided.  Robin didn’t like any styles but the most simple, cornrows going back.  But I relented on that, too; as long as the child’s hair was combed.

Then there was school.  It seemed like Robin was always having bad days at school with the other kids.  The only thing she was say is that they called her a tomboy.  I had no idea why that would make her so upset.  But I told her if she didn’t want them to call her a tomboy then she shouldn’t play with only the boys.  This was mainly because she was also coming home telling a story about some boy hitting her or pushing her; but it was okay because they were just playing.  I didn’t want her to get hurt.  Robin would say that the girls didn’t like her and wouldn’t let them play with her.  But, she had friends who were girls and were always coming over or going somewhere with us.  Robin would say that in school those girls would play with their other friends.  I just didn’t understand.

Now I realize that when she was 8 years old I began to see that my little girl was different than other little girls.  And I didn’t like it.  That was the year that my child began to express her identity.  And I didn’t like it one bit.