Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Standing on Girl Ground

I had breakfast with a friend today and she asked if Allie was having a good year. As I thought about my answer, I thought about what a big year it's been for Allie. A huge year, really. After all, she ended Kindergarten as short-haired Eli, who was toggling between boy and girl and started the year as long-haired Allie, identifying full-time as a girl.

In many ways, this year, as a full-time girl, Allie's challenges have been far fewer. And I suppose that isn't all that surprising. Looking back at photos of Allie when she still identified as "Eli" part-time, I realize now just how short her hair has and how boyish her looks really were. In my mind though, in real time, it had just looked like a cute pixie cut. But now I think how we were just dipping a toe into uncertain waters, mere novices attempting to pull off an elaborate hoax, our inexperience in raising a girl evidenced by Allie's hairstyle and clothing choices. Allie looked like a boy. And yet, we saw her as a girl. I guess we see her just as she sees herself.

But after a summer spent in the sunshine and salt water, her hair longer and her freckles brighter, Allie looks her part. And its oh so much easier for her to be in the world this way.

It's easy for me to forget that it wasn't always this easy and when I look back on our journey together, I am struck by just how much we ebbed and flowed between "boy" and "girl". I sometimes forget how much, and for how long, we fudged it. I often forget how emotionally exhausting it could be for me, for Adam, and I can't even imagine how exhausting for Allie.

And so now, with our feet planted firmly on girl ground, I am just so relieved at how smooth this year has been, at the lack of trepidation I have felt as Allie has broken new ground at her school, has touched hearts and has opened minds.

The first day that Allie wore a dress to school, I asked her if any of the kids mentioned her outfit. And she said, "Well, yes." I held my breath as I pulled out of the parking lot onto the main road and braced myself for a heart breaking story. "What did they say?", I asked. "Well, Whitneytold me she really liked the dress I was wearing today."

And so, with all this in mind, I turned to my friend at breakfast this morning who asked if Allie was having a good year. I looked at her and smiled and said, "Allie is having a great year."

                 Then                                                                               Now

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