15 March 2015

Last weekend, post shave, DKM and her mom and I were in the mall food court, grabbing some much needed food. I don’t remember how the subject came up (because my brain is basically swiss cheese at this stage of my life) but we were talking about the last time we’d worn dresses.

I had to admit…it’s been so long since I’ve worn a dress that if I were to put one on now, I would feel like a cross-dresser.

Later on I thought about that; it’s not just now. I clearly remember feeling like it was all kinds of wrong any time I had to wear a dress. I loathe dresses. I always have. It’s not a feeling that crept up on me with age and lack of wearing. Dresses were a major point of contention between my mother and I when I was little. I hated them, and it pissed her off to no end.

For a short time in 4th grade she instituted the Morning Dress Rule. I had to, no matter what I wanted, put on a dress in the morning for school, and I could change into pants at lunch before going back in the afternoon (yep, in Munich we were able to go home for lunch if we lived close enough to walk. I don’t see that happening now.)

I know now what she was going for, but then it was agony for me. And when I didn’t like something, I was a complete little shit. I think it lasted all of a month, maybe six weeks, before I wore her down. Or it could have been the volume of laundry, but I suspect my shitty little self bullied her into backing down.

I also know what she was afraid of; THAT was not what a kid should become, not in the late 60s and early 70s. All the things I hated—dresses, girly toys, anything frilly or pink or feminine—those all surely pointed to one thing, and apparently by forcing me into clothing that I despised, THAT was going to be corrected.

We can roll our eyes at the idea now, but I’m sure it made sense 40-45 years ago.

I was a hard-core tomboy, sure, but I was not THAT even though she couldn’t see it then.

And now I wonder: if such a huge issue had not been made of my preferences in clothing and toys and even colors, what would I like now?

There was a tipping point once puberty reared its ugly head and I was solidly into my early teen years. We were getting ready to move from Texas to California and it was suggested to me that “this would be a good time to change. You know, wear dresses and be more feminine. It’ll be easier because no one will know what you were like before.”

Surprisingly, it didn’t come from my mother, but she was on board with the idea.

Any inkling I might have had about it died with that. My (admittedly hurt) gut reaction was to wonder—out loud—what was so wrong with me that I needed to change? Why would I want to change? There was nothing wrong with me.

And there wasn’t. But I was just stubborn enough to decide that was it; I was going to be me and not give consideration to anything different. I didn’t have to be good enough for anyone else, because I was good enough for me.

My mother stopped pressing the matter by the time I was 15 or so, probably because it was clear I wasn’t turning into her worst fear, but I wonder now if left to my own choices, would I have gotten over my hatred of girly things and embraced at least a few of them?

I’ll never know, but I’ll probably always wonder.

I clearly got over my hate of things pink, though it still surprises some people to find out I don’t much care for it. Hot pink, I love it; pink-pink…no. Hell no.

I don’t even own a dress now; don’t expect me to, no matter what the event. I still mostly shop in the men’s department but not because of some weird loathing of women’s clothes; pants with useable pockets are rarely made for women, shirts are too short for women with any torso height, and most of them are—by design—clingy and face it, I don’t have the body for anything clingy. If I did, I would rock that chit so hard.

I am most comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, probably always will be.

My point? It’s not that my mother dropped the ball, so heap pity upon poor me. No, she coped as best she could with a stubborn kid whose tastes frightened her. It’s also not that I wish I were different. I’m fine with me; other people might not be, but that’s not my problem.

My point…let your kids be who they are. Don’t presume anything based on the clothes they want and the toys they play with. Let them explore without pressure to choose one thing over another. Give them the grace to know they can be whoever they think they are, and the freedom to change that without feeling judged.

And if they wind being something other than what you expected or hoped for, freaking embrace that shit, because life is hard enough as it is and not giving a damn about the little things makes it just a bit easier.

I will never know if I would have been any different if I hadn’t felt like I was expected to change the person I fundamentally was; there’s a whole other can of worms there I haven’t yet opened up to peek at, but the crux of it is that I spent a lot of years railing against what someone else wanted, even after she no longer wanted it.

Take a good look at your kid.

She’s fine just as she is, whether she’s pretending to be a princess or Ironman. He’s fine even if he wants those pink shoes and a tutu. Those choices don’t mean anything beyond this is what I like right now.

And even if they do, so what? You had a kid, not a promise.

You will love them no matter what.


Thumper’s unsolicited advice for the day.

8 March 2015

Not the ending to this weekend I expected...
Waiting to start...people in blue are volunteers.
At least this year I knew to expect my head to feel a little bit cold post-shave.

What I did differently this year was wait until just 2 days before to dye my hair. Last year, I think I did it 2 weeks ahead, but not being too sure how green hair would look on me, I opted to wait. After all, if I liked it, I could go green again later, right?

I should know better.

In any case, I got there nice and early, checked in and got my t-shirt, and marveled at how few people were there. The volunteers outnumbered the shavees about 15 to 1 at that point. It got better, but not by much.

Last year there were over 360 registered shavees. This year, 167. And looking at the list, only 140 or so raised any money, and most raised $100 or less and I'm not sure if any of them bothered to show up for it.

"Only thing I'm worried about are green stains"
When I went to bed Friday night you all had donated $875; a little under my goal but over what I raised last year, so I was thrilled.

I got up and checked one last time, and 3 people pushed me over goal; $1075 raised...color me happy, even if I was green.

I had no idea how green at that point.

So I got there, checked in, Michelle and her mom were there for support and to take pictures, and away we went...the ad who cut my hair did the sides and back first so that I would briefly have "a really cool mowhawk" ad as she finished she told me that yep, I had a few stains.

Well, chit.

Sure...just a few stains.

Good thing I brought a hat.

A few days after last year's shave I realized I loathed not having hair. I don't like having long hair, but I hated not having hair at all, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do this again. It was, honestly, harder than walking. The 3 Day is a weekend filled with a lot of pain and sweat, but it's also a weekend filled with awesome and hanging with friends.

This...this is an attention-sucking finger-pointing, cringing sort of endeavor. People stare, whisper, mock, and not in a fun way. Some look sympathetic, thinking I have no hair because I'm the one that's sick.

I have to admit, while I can handle the reactions of the neon pink hair, no hair made me very, very uncomfortable.

But...I'm over it.

This is far easier than what people in treatment go through.

Besides, it also gave me this picture.

I wanted to see how bad the back of my head was stained, so I contorted myself to take a picture, and found myself laughing.

Not because of the green, but because of the scar.

I didn't realize it was still so prominent.

When I was 5, maybe 6, I was sitting in a folding metal chair in temporary housing in Germany, in my Grandfather's room. He was teasing me about taking the chair and said he was going to sit on my lap...and proceeded to do just that.

Her certainly never intended to put any weight on my lap, but somehow it was just enough to upset the chair and I went backwards, right into the radiator under the window.

I know he felt horrible. I was screaming in pain, screaming because I was scared, screaming because I was just a little kid and GRANDPA BROKE ME.

He scooped me up and sat on the edge of his bed with me on his lap, while my parents came running. He told me over and over I was okay, he was sorry, I was okay. And when my mother and father got into the room and I wiggled away because...MOMMY...he looked at his bright white dress shirt and said firmly, "Look what you did. You got blood all over my good shirt."

 I stopped crying instantly. Oh holy hell, I got blood on Grandpa's shirt and surely I was going to get one hell of a spanking.

For just that brief moment, I thought he was actually mad.

But no...he wasn't mad. He was just trying to make me laugh, and the distraction stopped me from crying long enough for me to understand I wasn't really hurt.

For a long time after that, he teased that I owed him a new shirt. Get a job. You owe me a new white shirt.

For a long time after that, he kept checking the back of my head, hoping that scar would vanish.

I know he hoped it would, because even though we both knew it was an accident, he always felt bad about being the reason I cracked my head on the radiator. He felt bad even though I wasn't really hurt. He wanted that scar to go away.

But me? I'm freaking glad it didn't. Because I have that scar I have a touchstone to my grandfather, and he was a pretty cool guy.

Even if it is surrounded by green splotches.

Or, as Dean McCaughan put it, leprechaun kisses.

I kinda like that.


5 March 2015

Not the best dye job I've done, but we have green...

Oh, and I waited long enough to do this that for sure my scalp will be stained on Saturday when the hairs get shaved off.

I'll just tell people it's cooties, and then breathe heavily at them.


2 March 2015

Yeah...I don't think that pink is going to bleach out. I suspect that when I wash this out, my roots will be near white and I will have killer pink tips.

This would be awesome, except in the next couple of days I need to dye it neon green.

Just 5 more days until it all comes off, regardless of what color it actually ends up being...but since I'm dying it this week, y'all have a good shot at seeing green stains on my scalp.

And yep, this is the last fundraiser mention I will do for this event on this blog.

So far I've raised $390 of a $1000 goal. Did I mention donations are tax deductible? THEY'RE TAX DEDUCTIBLE, Y'ALL!

Get your deductible here.

Also, you get warm fuzzies, which is more than I'll have for a couple of weeks after this...