Image Alt

Will boys be boys when they bring on the bling

Will boys be boys when they bring on the bling

The little red plastic barrette is long gone but there was a time when it sat on my son’s dresser and when the spirit moved him, would be clipped into his curly blonde hair.

He wore a gem-encrusted bracelet that he chose from the assortment of costume jewellery left behind by his departed great-grandma, to church. He was three at the time. Sam would see me getting decked out with earrings, bracelets, hair accessories and other jewellery and wondered out loud why he couldn’t add to his outfits in the same way.

Sam purchased a pair of green earrings at a garage sale. They were not for pierced ears, they had a screw mechanism that attached them to the earlobe. One night at supper, he began to squirm uncomfortably in his chair. It wasn’t long until he angrily pulled up his shirt to reveal one of the earrings screwed onto his belly button. As he undid the earring, Sam let us know, in as stern a voice as a four-year-old with a lisp could muster, that he didn’t know how people could stand having a belly button ring.

He also wondered how a boy could look like a girl. Sam looked a lot like me when he was young, right down to his shoulder-length hair. He would often have the resemblance pointed out to him. He was mistaken for a girl more than once and having a name that is a short form of Samantha as well as Samuel, the assumption was even more justified. 

I told him that he was cute and that it was okay to be cute. His older brother was cute in a different way, in a way that looked just like his dad. Sam has not worn jewellery in years and has no piercings on his 20-year-old body. He now resembles my brother more than me.

I was reminded of his early foray into gender bending when I read Kinjal Dagli-Shah’s exploration of gender-neutral child rearing in the Junior section this month and Vanessa Lupton’s Tween feature about girls creating t-shirts with positive gender-related messages. Sam’s might have stated; “Bling is for boys”.