One in a million. That’s the best way to describe your kid. Not that you’re biased or anything, but it’s true. He’s smarter than other people’s children, very definitely cuter, and he has more talent in his left foot than most adults possess in their entire bodies.
No child can compare to yours, that’s a fact. Author Lori Duron’s son is absolutely, wonderfully fabulous, too, and in her new memoir, Raising My Rainbow, she’ll tell you about C.J.
For the past four years, life in Lori Duron’s household has been separated into two eras: Before Barbie (BB), and After Barbie (AB).
BB marks the time prior to a closet cleanout, when a collector doll was absently tossed on the bed. AB is what happened when Duron’s two-and-a-half-year-old son C.J. spotted Barbie and fell in love. AB, he discovered the “pink aisles of the toy department” at a discount chain, and was awed.
Understanding that her role as C.J’s parent “was not to change him but to love him,” Duron indulged her youngest son’s choices. This was familiar territory, in fact: his love of all things girly reminded Duron of her gay brother. Throughout most of their childhood, she and Michael spent entire weekends building elaborate doll kingdoms and pretend-shopping.
She figured she “knew” what C.J.’s pink fixation meant.
For sure, pinky-girly things made the little guy happy, and Duron didn’t want to quash that in her toddler. Her husband, a “guy’s guy,” and their oldest son, who’s “all boy,” were also supportive, though somewhat flummoxed.
The entire family, therefore, was relieved when Duron found a reason for C.J.’s boy-stuff aversion: he’s gender nonconforming, and “slides on the gender spectrum at his leisure depending on the day, the outfit, and the occasion.” There was a time when he wanted to be a girl when he grew up, but today he “self-identifies as a boy.”
“Ten or twenty years from now,” Duron says, “will I be the parent of two boys or one boy and one girl? I don’t know.” But for now, they’re “going to be entering more of the unknown, and…loving our son…no matter what.”
It took me awhile to understand what was going on in Raising My Rainbow. Author Lori Duron seemed, initially, to complain a lot in her story. She describes how much work it was to keep others from finding out about C.J.’s love of “girl stuff,” and exasperation fairly oozed from the pages.
That doesn’t last, though. It’s not long before she layers on the self-depreciating humor while she teaches readers about patience, acceptance, gender, and its fluidity. We’re also treated to a wonderful metamorphosis, as Duron turns from consternated parent to confident pillar. That’s exactly what we need to see.
As it turns out, I was disappointed in one thing here: that this book ended so soon. Yep, I liked it a lot, and I think you will, too, so if you know a gender-nonconforming child, read Raising My Rainbow. You’ll find a million reasons to love it.
Raising My Rainbow
by Lori Duron
2013, Broadway Books (broadwaybooks.net)
278 pages, $15/$17 Canada
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.