What a week of Storms. My heart goes out to all the people in the States who have lost everything to the many Tornadoes this past week. Here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) we have had our own, "Storm," that has caused its own devastation.
I understand the story of baby Storm has gone viral and is news all over the world. Wow, if I was this babies parents I don't know just what I would do. But I do know that how they have handled the media on slot so far is admiral. They have not exploited their children or had family makeovers, no instant TV stars, no commercial endorsements.
If you are not familiar with the story read the link:http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/newsfeatures/article/995846--star-readers-rage-about-couple-raising-genderless-infant
I first read the story last weekend and the husband and I had a brief discussion about it. I was intrigued by the concept of not labeling our kids the second they are born (or in many cases even before they are born). This idea of letting the child just be a child and encouraging our kids to follow their own interests.
I have two girls (yes, labeled before they were born) but I am OK with it. But I was and still am a fan of Barbara Coloroso's philosophy of child rearing, Kid's Are Worth It. The husband and I followed a lot of her ideas while raising our kids. "Its not life threatening, Its not morally threatening and it will grow out, wash out, fall out (put what ever you need here) are the words we have lived by for many circumstances. Like a few months ago when the little one wanted two black low lights (streaks) in the front part of her hair. Her hairdresser, Sam, was all for it, but let me tell you the older women in the salon were not happy. "If I let her streak her hair now what will she do when she is 15". Same at school, the vice principal was not impressed but as no dress code had been broken (yes, there is one for hair. Only natural colours are permitted) there was nothing she could do about it. Yes, she had plenty to say about it, What Ever! I would constantly repeat to myself and out loud "Its not life threatening, Its not morally threatening and it will grow out".
But I digress back to Storm. I have thought about this all week and I think the main reason a lot of people have gotten so outraged over this story is not because Storm's older brother has long hair (isn't that the latest fashion statement in the celebrity world of kids). It's not cause Storm's brother likes the colour pink. The child is 5 and unless he has been told by adults not to like it why wouldn't he. The only reason I can see for the anger is because Storm's family knows something and you don't! It's like being back in high school and hating the 'in crowd' just cause you're not in the 'in crowd'. Grow up all of you! What is between Storm's legs really is none of our business. There is no reason for you to know what sex Storm is and why do you have to know?
Todays Toronto Star has a open letter written by the Mother of Storm:http://www.thestar.com/news/article/998960--genderless-baby-s-mother-responds-to-media-frenzy. I commend you Ms. Witterick for trying to set the record straight. And hats off to you and your husband for loving and respecting your children enough to let them make decisions for themselves that are appropriate for their age. When our older daughter was young she would dress herself in layers as she wanted to be prepared for any type of weather. That meant at times she looked like the Michelin Man and at times could not sit because she had on shorts, leggings, track pants, jeans and skirts, all at the same time. But that was her and she eventually learned that having a look outside can be a good indicator on how to dress! Our younger daughter (the artist) loved to wear two different shoes, just because she liked them both. Her most memorable fashion statement was when I cut a leg off of her favourite jeans as the knee was worn through. I told her she could wear them as shorts but she refused so after only cutting the one pant leg off she insisted on having her pants back, (and wore them until she outgrew them) with one long pant leg and one short pant leg. Yes, we got many a second look and yes I would of preferred her not to wear the pants. But what would I be teaching her, "don't think for yourself, don't' express yourself, your ideas are wrong". She will get enough of that line of teaching from well meaning others. It is more important that she know that her parents accept and love her for who she is regardless.
Ms. Witterick let me share some of my experience with you. Raising kids is hard. A lot of the child rearing philosophy we share is great when they are little but it gets very tricky when other people start to have a big influence on your kids. School is a big one (I understand you are homeschooling now but you may not in the future for many different reasons) so be prepared for other adults not to think the same as you. They are not wrong, nor bad but they just have a different way of doing things and for your kids that can be confusing. Letting your kids pick their clothes out and then they go to a school that says girls can only wear pants on Tuesday and Thursdays can be very confusing for them. I remember many a discussion with the older one's teachers because she didn't want to wear her gloves in the winter. She had them in her back pack if she needed them and she had been raised with the thought if your hands get cold you know what to do to make them warm. But teachers would insist she wear them or they wouldn't let her outside. This would drive me crazy but it was a hopeless battle. Why did she not want to wear her gloves: because while having gloves on she could not pick up the pretty stones from the play ground that she wanted to show me at the end of her day.
Ms. Witterick I commend you and your husband for raising your three kids. You have your work cut out for you and kudos to you for standing firm on your convictions. I am sure your three children will grow up in a loving supportive home and hopefully will be strong enough in themselves to reject the negative influence from the outside world. Know you are not alone in your child rearing.
To all the 'in crowd" wannabe's, Storm is not "Genderless". Storm has a gender it's just not any of your business what that gender is!