A Kid Like Jake

What kind of kid is Jake? Like most kids, Jake is many things, and to his parents, he is everything. But when they say “a kid like Jake,” they mean how Jake is different. How Jake likes to dress up in little girls’ dresses. How Jake’s gender identity is maybe fluid. No one says those exact words, of course, because Jake is still young. Jake is so young that his parents, Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons), are in the midst of registering him for school. Not public school, hopefully, which has been deemed unacceptable. So they’re making the rounds, doing interviews and writing application essays – thousands of kids for just a few hundred slots, and Alex and Greg need Jake to get financial aid on top of it.

But how old is old enough to even know something like that? I have one nephew who, as MV5BZjFkZjI4ZGQtODRmNi00MWNmLTllYzAtM2Q2MGYwNzhkYjY0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTExNDQ2MTI@._V1_a baby, was always attracted to my baubles. He’d pull on them and gum them as a tot but when he was old enough, he’d steal them and be a very well-accessorized toddler. Another nephew insisted on having his finger nails painted whenever his mother did hers. One little guy had a dolly that he loved to play with. Once, when we brought him to Build-A-Bear, he insisted on our purchasing him a pink stroller for his bear. We obliged of course, and presto, change-o: instant mall hazard, a 3 year old on a complete tear, careening his plastic stroller possibly right into your shins. Does any of this mean anything? Other than that kids aren’t born knowing about gender stereotypes. Most kids will do whatever’s fun, grab whatever’s sparkly, unless of course they’re shamed.

Jake seems to gravitate more toward things traditionally thought of as ‘girly.’ His parents don’t think too much about it, until it’s time to submit applications and they need a hook that will distinguish him from the thousands of other kids. A friend and early childhood educator (Octavia Spencer) suggests that Jake’s gender questioning play might be worth a mention. But when tensions are high, it turns out Jake’s parents are a little less tolerant than previously believed. Not that they’re anything but accepting of their child – it’s toward each other that they harbour resentments, and those babies are coming out!

Truth be told, the subject is treated with kid gloves. It’s sensitive, and they’re so worried about blundering into it head-on, they perhaps fail to graze it fully from the side. No matter. It’s still ripe with interesting questions that are worth considering.

 

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13 thoughts on “A Kid Like Jake

  1. J.

    I had a discussion like this a few years back with a few friends of mine cause their lad was interested in all those sparkling things and other folks would give those funny looks at this lad playing with his sister’s toys.

    It’s a lot of pressure to put on kids and, like you say, shame. Only thing it’ll do is harm their developing self confidence and character. But then, I also don’t like it when someone tells my kid kid not to be silly if he says something or asks a question that adults know the answer to. I tell him he’s not being silly and that it’s a good question or what have you.

    I like the idea of your nephew careening through a mall with a pink stroller. All the while people are likely more horrified at the sight of the lad with the pink stroller than the possibility of it hitting them!

    Kids will figure it all out… they haven’t fallen into stereotypes and norms, they’re living their lives and being who they want to be.

    Anyhoo, I might see this… even if it is just for the conversation it might start.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, the stroller nephew has longish hair (beautiful, angelic curls) and though he’s 4, I’ve already heard several adults tell him that boys should have short hair. Should they? Really?

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  2. Birgit

    I disliked pink when i was little and it is still not a favourite colour of mine. I am blue all the way and still am:). I grew up with someone who liked my dolls and he ended up getting GI Joe dolls which was ok but he still liked mine. He is married and has 3 sons of his own and probably doesn’t even remember that he liked playing with my barbies. This would be a good movie to see and i bet, many parents still would have issues with it. What’s funny is that it is easier for girls to be tomboys than it is for boys to like “girlie” things.

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    1. Jay Post author

      My sister’s colleague was told recently by her fertility doctor that they would not allow her to conceive at their clinic. She has high testosterone and has an increased risk of having an intersex baby. Intersex is not a disability, and in this age where some parents choose to raise young children gender neutrally anyway, it seemed a harsh judgment call, one that discriminates against lesbians since nothing prohibits her from having a baby the old fashioned way.
      What IS the big deal about gender?

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  3. Liz A.

    It’s an issue. And it’s more at the forefront nowadays. A lady in my writers group has had quite the stress the last couple years as her 10-year-old son insisted on transitioning. She’s still having issues, the now-daughter and mother.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, it’s a big deal, and a form of grief for a lot of parents. It will be a while yet before we can really wrap our heads around it culturally.

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  4. Brittani

    “the subject is treated with kid gloves.” – So it’s like the Philadelphia of trans kid movies? I mean, I’m kind of interested in seeing Jim Parsons play someone that isn’t Sheldon. That doesn’t happen enough.

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