Raising My Rainbow

It’s One Thing After Another, I Swear

photo 1With Chase starting fifth grade and C.J. starting first grade this year, I have reached the momentous mommy milestone of having all of my children in full-day school.

I got them both to where they needed to be on the morning of September 10 and rushed back home to park myself on the couch under a blanket to catch up on reality TV, while obsessively and repetitively checking email and Facebook on my laptop and Instagram and Pinterest on my phone. Because that, my friends, is how I relax.

As I got myself situated on the sofa the silence of the house caught my attention. It was quiet. Really quiet. I got halfway through one episode of Teen Mom 3 and I had a bad feeling. What if, at that very moment, someone was trying to dull C.J.’s sparkle? What if he was being teased for his rainbow-leopard-print backpack? What if he was being teased for his pink, heart-covered lunchbox? What if he was being teased for his hair that is growing out? What if? What if? What if? I couldn’t concentrate on mindless TV.


I thought of that morning. I followed behind Chase as he walked onto campus. He was high-fiving people through the hallways and reinforcing why we call him “The Mayor.” He knows everybody and is full of a confidence that is more kind and innocent than cocky. He’s just a great, happy, friendly person.

photo 2Thirty minutes later we were at C.J.’s school and he was holding onto my hand for dear life. The transition from kindergarten to first grade is a big deal. Gone are the half-day of instruction, private playground, protective atmosphere and kids and parents who know C.J. is, well, C.J. This year he has to stand in line on the playground with 1,150 other first through sixth graders waiting for the bell to ring. He was overwhelmed. Understandably so.

When I picked C.J. up from school, his teacher had the class in a single file line and was dismissing one student at a time. I could see C.J. at the back of the line. He looked up at me and then immediately looked down. He was fighting back tears. I started to do the same.

When he got to me, I asked him how his day was.

“Fine,” he said as we walked.  He was lying.  We got into the car and the tears spilled down his cheeks.

“What’s wrong, baby?” I asked.

“I spent all day afraid that the big kids were going to tease me cause they don’t know that I’m gender nonconforming yet. And, it was the longest day ever. I’m tired. First grade is way too long,” he explained.

“Who did you sit with at lunch?”

“I sat at the boys’ table and it was so boring.” There are not boys’ tables and girls’ tables at lunch, that’s just how the kids divide.

“How come you didn’t sit with your girl friends?” I asked. C.J. only has girl friends.

“Because I didn’t want the bigger boys to tease me.”

“Did the boys say anything about your lunchbox?” I asked. He’d been not so patiently waiting to use it for weeks.

“I didn’t carry it to the lunch tables. I took all of my food out and carried it in my hands to the tables so that nobody would see my lunchbox.”

My heart broke as I envisioned him trying to carry a sandwich, juice box, chips, granola bar and sliced fruit to the lunch tables on the other side of campus.

We role-played that night during bath time.

“What if someone said, ‘Why do you have a girls lunchbox?’” I asked.

photo 5“I’d say because that’s my style and everyone can have their own style,” he replied not missing a beat and sounding like he really believed his own words.

“See! You’re great! That’s what you would say!” I encouraged him.

“It’s harder when it’s really happening,” he said looking down. I couldn’t argue with that.

I offered to go get him a new lunchbox. He didn’t want to. He likes his pink lunchbox. But, the next day he took his lunch in a brown paper bag. And, he has everyday since.

On Wednesday, Chase came home and said that he needed to talk to me privately.

“A kid in my class made a racist remark at the lunch tables and I told him that it wasn’t very nice, especially since there was a person of color at the table. Then the same kid used the word ‘gay’ in the bad way and I told him not to do that because it’s rude and because my uncle is gay and my brother is gender nonconforming. He said that being gay is sick and bad and wrong. He said that I’m not a good Christian if I like gay people. It’s all really been bothering me,” Chase said.

He stared at me. I stared back at him, trying to keep my immediate reactions from flying out of my mouth.

“Wow. Okay. So that all happened,” I said as he continued to stare at me. I swear, I cannot get away from gender and sexuality issues. Even when I’m just trying to hide in my house and stare at three screens simultaneously, my kids are out in the world experiencing things that aren’t okay.

“Well, baby, above all else, God said to love others and not judge, so you should tell that kid to focus on that. Besides, he made a big assumption that everybody is the same religion. Then, maybe you two should agree to disagree. Not all kids your age have the same opinions and worldviews as you do. A lot of them don’t know about the struggle for LGBTQ equality yet. I bet that kid has never even met a gay person.  You’re a little more worldly in that regard.”

I was making it all up as I went along.

photo 4On Thursday, pretty much the exact same conversation took place at lunchtime with two other kids joining in to tell Chase that being gay is sick, bad, wrong and gross and against God, Jesus and the Bible.   They said that we are a bad family.

I emailed the teacher and principal.

Then, on Friday, C.J. got was upset that a girl from his class told him that his backpack is for girls.

“I told her that it wasn’t, that backpacks are for everybody and that is just my style.”

He was proud of himself. He was smiling.

“What did she say?”

“She said I was a liar and that it’s only for girls and I can’t carry it.”

“Backpacks are for anyone who has a back and needs a pack,” I said, shaking my head in pure exhaustion.

The first four days of school. My youngest is afraid of getting teased at lunch, while my oldest is actually getting teased at lunch. I’ve already had to be in contact with two principals, two teachers and one vice principal. We’ve already been called a bad family.

And, I’m still not caught up on my reality television shows.

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  • Harley

    WOW. Are you living in the Deep South somewhere? Sounds like typical elementary school talk in Redneckland, Texas.

  • avesraggiana

    How about leaving your children alone to fight their own battles? Stop running to the Principal and let these boys toughen up on their own. The bullying will stop once they fight back and throw a punch on their own. It worked for me.

  • Large Marge

    @avesraggiana: Might have worked for you… might not for others… that’s why people shoot up schools.

  • Dakotahgeo

    I’m amazed at the self-righteous arrogance displayed on this blog. Not only is this woman’s family up there among the best of families, but next time she has to see the Administration, she should bring a lawyer with her. That, in most cases, solves the problem. School authorities are changing their tactics amazingly fast these days and DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, want to cost their school district any desperately needed financial resources. Not all school districts’ insurance carriers will pay the entire amount. Some people just have to learn the hard way. Many courts today are siding with the plaintiffs, thank goodness!
    (From one who is a retired school teacher!

    @Dixie Rect: And what bases do you have to even make a egregious remark like that? I hope you don’t have any children or pets!

  • ncman

    Didn’t this mother just post an article 2 days ago where CJ was the “Star of the Week” in his 1st grade class? Wouldn’t it make more sense to publish these “Raising My Rainbow” posts in chronological order?

  • Dakotahgeo

    @ncman: I ‘spect, since it IS her blog, she can comment/post however she wants! “Nuff said!

  • ncman

    @Dakotahgeo: Sure, if she just wants to confuse her readers about what is going on.

  • Dixie Rect

    @ncman: I don’t think it matters, its all fiction anyway. This woman is out for a buck, trying to get people to buy her book. She also is dying to get a reality show. She sold out her kid for a buck. Yeah, she’s a great mother all right.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @ncman: Same advice. Heed it. If it ain’t yours, don’t criticize! Not hard to figure out.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Dixie Rect: Says the “man of authority”! Heh heh heh.

  • CaptainFabulous

    I don’t even know where to begin. First off, what kids of these ages use language like this? What 6 or 7 year old understands and uses the term “gender non-conformist”???

    And while it’s great to encourage kids to be themselves and be proud of who they are, starting them out so early to be outcasts probably isn’t the best way ensure their continued mental or physical health.

    No one is saying they have to hide in the closet, but at some point you simply have to acknowledge that there is a time and a place to be out and proud and a time and a place to dial it back and blend in. Should we have to? In a perfect world, no. But we’re not in a perfect world. We’re in a world where being gay or transgendered or gender nonconformist can get you beaten or shot to death. You gather more flies with honey than vinegar.

    These kids need to be taught war zone survival skills, not how to be targets.

  • QJ201

    This entry is a couple of months old. Not sure why the wunderkind of Queerty are re-posting it now.

    As for the negative comments on here…clearly you don’t read her blog and are just shooting your mouths off with your initial uninformed reaction to this post, think before you speak or comment. Most don’t.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @QJ201: Ahhh! And you are an authority on this? Physician, heal thyself!

  • the other Greg

    It’s true, lots of kids are beaten up for being/acting gay. And other kids are beaten up just for being smart and using terms like “gender-nonconformist.”

    I’m concerned that poor C.J. (if he is real) is going to find out both ways in middle school. As someone who was beaten up a lot in those years, I’m not entirely sure it matters what the bully’s “motivation” is.

    This mom seems to have plenty of time on her hands, however. Home schooling: it’s not just for right-wing wackos anymore? Just a suggestion!

  • DerekR

    @Dakotahgeo: You took the words right out of my mouth. Christ QJ201 practice what you preach!

  • 2eo

    @Dakotahgeo: I didn’t expect Dixie, a person who by all rights still has to use blunt scissors would be able to explain his idiocy.

    He lived up to those expectations.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @2eo: LOLOL… you never fail to hit the nail on the head! Thanks!

  • Cyn

    Wow, trolls here? Really?

    First, my kid was spoken to and included in conversations in such a way that she had a HUGE vocabulary and decent argument skills on a variety of topics by kindergarten. I just don’t believe in dumbing down to meet other people’s way low standards.

    Second, her posting on her blog, and then Queerty fitting the blog into their editorial schedule are not always going to meet up perfectly, especially since Queerty does not post all of her entries. Which is fine.

    Third, don’t feed the trolls. They get all hyper when they cannot support their arguments, resort to name calling and spewing party line, and get a real hard on about making us mad.

    Dakotahgeo: Please get a blow job today. It will make you feel better.

  • EdgarCarpenter

    @CaptainFabulous – you say “No one is saying they have to hide in the closet” and then you advise them to hide in the closet.

    Bullying is bullying is bullying – experienced teachers know how to stop it in it’s tracks, especially in early elementary school when teachers have more leverage. That’s always been part of a good teacher’s job – it’s an important lesson to learn, after all. The kids are only being themselves, and they’

  • EdgarCarpenter

    (continued) they are not attacking the other kids, they’re being attacked. Christian bullies are no more protected than secular bullies, and the school should definitely be involved in stopping them.

  • CaptainFabulous

    @EdgarCarpenter: There is a huge difference between “hiding in the closet” and “keeping a low profile”. I would never suggest anyone deny who they are or hide it. But this doesn’t mean you should flaunt it either, especially in unsure surroundings and situations. Being true to yourself doesn’t mean you have to announce it to everyone you meet. Discretion is the better part of valor, and in cases like this can mean the difference between 12 years of unrelenting harassment or a relatively trouble-free existence.

    And while it would be nice if teachers and administrators protected kids from bullies, most of the time they refuse to get involved until it escalates to extreme proportions, which by that time it’s way too late. As a parent the first line of responsibility is upon you to teach your kids how to navigate the complexities of being different in an arena where being different can easily result in being attacked and persecuted. It’s a warground, not a playground. Unfortunate, and it shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Cyn: LOLOL… EXcellent idea… and when would you be available since you were so eager to suggest? LOLOL… cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it! (Wink, wink) ;-)

    And speaking of TROLLS, maybe your child could educate you on that… she sounds more intelligent than you do!

  • KDub

    When will these silly bohemian moms learn to stop trying to make statements with their kids’ lives? This is horrible parenting, and mom was probably crying because she knew she was partly responsible for what happened to her kid.

  • Cyn

    @Dakotahgeo: I’ll have to decline, I don’t do the dick willingly. Ew. But I really don’t see your problem here. What’s up with the judgey attitude and all the snide and not so well written remarks?

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Cyn: First , you need to understand that I don’t owe you the time of day here. Secondly, this is an open blog. If you don’t like that, move on. I do not even recognize you as human! much less animal! Get over yourself!

  • the other Greg

    @Dakotahgeo: Wow, that’s a bit extreme, REVEREND Dak!

    If anyone here ever doubts that you are an ordained Christian minister, you’ll prove it with remarks like that.

    And on a comment thread about bullying, yet. Nice touch!

  • Dakotahgeo

    @the other Greg: Thank you! I’ll take that under advisement. All things considered, re-read it, and apply it. Thank you!

  • AuntieChrist

    I don’t think it matters if it is or is not fiction…The writing style is simplistic…I have looked at her blog and it is very professional…The whole thing looks like an excellent fabrication…It is either too good to be true or it is exactly what it is supposed to be…My gut is in favor of fabrication…Unless you are an ace hacker there is no way to authenticate…There is a certain glibness to the prose it all just seems too perfect…But I am rather cynical…I don’t believe everything I read.

  • Saralikesyarr

    Aww, this sucks.

    Brave, smart, kindhearted kids you have though.

    Good for them for showing strength.

    Though, this is the NUMBER ONE reason why I would never send kids to public school.

    Why put them through that?

    Didn’t all of us get enough hate when we were kids?

    Why put our own kids through it too? Of course that’s just my own opinion, and I totally think your kids rock for standing up to people.

    Public school is hard.

  • jwrappaport

    @Saralikesyarr: Exactly my thoughts. I’d want to send my kids to private schools, although my elementary school experience was blissful. And then middle school happened.

    Some public schools are great, but it’s such a crapshoot.

  • Dixie Rect

    Queerty: Please stop putting this awful woman’s blog up. Isn’t the world filled with enough lies?

  • Ailalynn

    @avesraggiana: You know, that is completely ignorant to say “How about leaving your children alone to fight their own battles? Stop running to the Principal and let these boys toughen up on their own. The bullying will stop once they fight back and throw a punch on their own. It worked for me.”

    Do you know how many kids commit suicide every year due to bullying? 4,400. Some as young as 9 if not younger. To tell them to make the kids fight is ignorant. I had been bullied through school from elementary to high school. When I did stand up for myself it got worse. As a teenager it got to the point I had enough and attempted suicide several times. The only reasons I got bullied was because 1. I am deaf. and later in h.s. was because I came out as bisexual. (I’m female).

    Teachers do nothing, principals do nothing, other students do nothing. Because everyone turns a blind eye and says “they have to hit their bully.” There have been kids killed by their bully because they tried to stand up for themselves. There are kids who got it even worse after trying to stand up for themselves. It helps if people stop turning a blind eye and make the bullies think it is okay to bully. Even something as simple as a kid stepping in to grab the one being bullied and saying “hey, i’ll walk you to class. I think we have the same class.” can help. Ty smalley, Mitchell Wilson, Tori Bliar, ashlynn connor, and tyler long are some examples of kids committing suicide because of bullying and the teachers looking the other way. Do research and go here http://www.thebullyproject.com/about_the_bully_project to learn ways to handle bullying and teaching other kids how to handle it before you state anything so ignorant again. I know that as a former bully victim the last thing I needed was to be told to handle it myself, especially when it wasn’t working. I needed someone to step in and no-one did. Thankfully someone found me and called 911 before I died and became another suicide victim.

  • Ailalynn

    @Dixie Rect: Lies or truth, at least the woman is trying to send a message out about bullying against the LGTBQ community. They were on good morning America or something like that, I doubt it is fake if they were on it.

    Either way, isn’t the point of the message being sent out one that is against bullying and standing up for those who need it? So, no matter how she gets her point across at least she is making the effort for change. What are you doing? Bashing it. You are pretty much saying “Hey! It’s okay to bully different people because this lady is a liar!” Yeah, nice job. Instead of saying negative stuff, why don’t you try to stand behind the effort to end bullying and ignorance against LGTBQ?

  • OzGurl

    Im a mama to a boy aged 6 who is in grade 1. We, his dad and I, have avioded putting ANY kind of labels on him given his age. We honestly believe deep down that there is a strong possibility he may be transgender. Since he was two he has tried to get rid of his penis by pushing it inside and using tape to wearing tight undies, a few times in anger he has screamed he wants to cut it off.

    We let him pick his own clothes and bedding. He has a Tinkerbell one he loves but he also has a Mickey Mouse one. He wears fairy wings on the weekend but also builds with lego. We feel that for now its best to just let him be with the world at his door so he may pick and choose. At 6 he still doesnt have all the words to describe how he even feels at times. So its just day by day, what ever he needs to be happy.

    I worry about the ‘push’ I see/feel in some of these stories, there is no need to rush childhood or development. Identity is more then a pink lunch box, its something that changes and evolves. I don’t doubt that some children just know, I just feel that for my six year old he should have the space and peace to just be who he is.

  • pipnuts

    I was a confused bisexual kid at school, and even in year seven (the year you turn 12 in England) it was a horrendous time to come out, and if parents or teachers got involved it became 100 times worse. The answer we found in Secondary School (11 – 19 yr olds) was Special Prefects. We already had a Prefect scheme which required all senior students to take on student disciplinary duties around the school twice a week, but two of us discovered that if we made ourselves available to the lower and middle students and got to know them, they would come to us to sort their problems out. Telling another student wasn’t stigmatized. telling a teacher was. And yet we had the authority, as Prefects, to deal with the problems (we could place students on restriction at breaktimes, bully the bullies (we explained to the bullies that we would monitor them closely, and that for as long as they were bullying others, we would pick them up on every single infraction they made of the rules, no matter how minor. When they got frustrated and expressed it to us (they always did this within two weeks) we would talk to them about how they felt and draw parallels between what was happening to them and what they were doing to others. We also could compel bullies to attend in school counselling.

    In Primary School (4-11yrs), inclusiveness was encouraged by the quality of our teachers, and bullying discouraged by the same. We wanted the respect of our teachers. Since they were unruffled by people who were different, so were most of us. All it usually took to quell bad behaviour was for a teacher to raise a disapproving eyebrow. Our teachers were never violent or horrible to us. We simply loved them. It was a Methodist Primary School that accepted, and was accepting of, people of all religions.

  • Exxie

    @avesraggiana: My uncle was bullied in school. For what I don’t know because I don’t ask my parents. But he told them his problem and they went to the principal (this was an elementary school by the way). The principal told them the very same thing you are saying. In fact, he went so far as to say that kids ‘had a pecking order’. Like they’re animals. That was around thirty years ago. Does anyone else wonder why something hasn’t changed?

    I also have a friend who was bullied. Again, for what I don’t know because I didn’t ask. But this friend of mine stood up for herself by throwing a punch. Landed her in trouble tons. Had to take anger management because of it.

    It may have worked for you, but wouldn’t you have rather been in a world, a school, where you didn’t have to resort to violence? This parent is trying to show her kids how to be good Christians, how to accept and love people like Jesus taught us. Telling them to ‘toughen up’ and ‘throw a punch’ is like saying for them to forget everything they’ve learned in church. To not live their faith.

    I personally think it would be a crying shame if they’d have to do that.

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