Mom, I’m Changing

Erin Britt essays

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Seth has class this semester on Thursdays. Taking full advantage of this, I have taken a pass on cooking that night. The little ladies and I go out for pizza or burgers or anything that I don’t have to cook.

I was particularly hungry on a Thursday a few weeks ago. I should have eaten earlier in the day but somehow that escaped me and I was just this side of cranky mommy when I got home. I tried to get Eliza and Lucille to hurry along, get a move on but they had their dink on so significantly that I’m afraid I kind of yelled at them to get them out the door. I’m not proud of it, but it happened.

We were finally heading out of the door when I saw that Eliza had on her sister’s hoodie with the word WILD scrawled across the back in hot pink letters. Thinking she had mistakenly grabbed Lucille’s jacket instead of her own black hoodie with a camouflage cow skull on the front I stopped cold. Knowing she would rather die than be seen in pink, I took a deep breath, despite my rising hunger, and let her in on my observation.

“Babe, you’ve got one your sister’s hoodie,” I said.

She stopped, looked squarely at me, her white blue eyes meeting mine.

“Mom, I’m changing,” she said.

“Well go ahead Eliza,” I said. “But hurry. I’m hungry!” I was irritated that we’d finally gotten out of the house, made a break for the car and now we had to turn around and wait for a wardrobe change.

“No,” she said without moving an inch. “I’m changing, mom. I’m trying out wearing girl clothes.”

“Oh,” I said. “…okay…”

I was a little taken aback. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen her put on her sister’s clothes but I’d always thought the wearing of those clothes stayed at home like nicknames and funny family photos. I didn’t think she was ready to go public.

But evidently I was wrong.

Ever since Eliza was three and had an opinion on such matters, she’s worn basketball shorts and T-shirts, boxer briefs and Vann’s. At one point she wanted to shave her head and asked her kindergarten teacher to call her Cooper. She wanted to be a boy, she said.

I’ve spent the better part of the last four years reading everything I could about gender creative children. I’ve come to a place of deep acceptance of my child and an ally for people like her who live between genders. The night she wore her sister’s hoodie to dinner, I have to admit, I wondered if I’d done something wrong. I worried she didn’t feel accepted for who she was, that she felt social pressure to be someone she’s not.

Eliza assures me this is not the case.

With an eye roll she said, “Mom, it’s just a hoodie.”

She’s right, I suppose. I don’t have to make this into more than it needs to be.

She’s leading, I’m following. But it looks like this ride might get even more interesting than I thought.

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Erin Britt

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