Devon Berryann wrote, "My six year old son likes to wear nail polish. He likes to wear girls' clothes and tutus. He tells me about the boys he likes at school. He says he will marry them and adopt babies. Maybe he will outgrow it. Maybe not. I love and accept him for who he is. I always thought that doing that would protect him from the pain of hurtful words and bullies, and I didn't worry."
But then, the mom shares, kids at school started teasing him for his nail polish. "For the first time ever I considered talking him into taking it off. Into hiding that part of himself," she says. "Because for the first time ever I was scared that he would be gunned down one night when he was out having a good time with his friends. In that moment I was so terrified that I wondered if it would be better to stop appeasing him."
Berryann writes that she decided against asking her son to stop wearing the polish, and remembered the reasons she has empowered him to be who he wants: "Because it makes him happy. Because nothing hurts more than seeing your child truly sad. Because pretending to be someone you're not to please other people only leads to self-loathing. To depression and to suicide. And that too made me afraid. Why do I have to fear for him because of what he likes and who he cares about? Aren't we past all this yet?"
The post ends with an emotional plea to, well, everyone. "I want this world to change," the Pennsylvania mom says. "To be better for him. To DESERVE him. Because he is a wonderful, amazing person. He wants to be president. He thinks he is a ninja. He listens when you explain things and remembers it forever. He notices when you're sad and tries to cheer you up. He has a light about him that just can't be put out, no matter how hard some people have tried."
She writes the world will never change with fear as its vehicle. Instead, more love and acceptance will foster the change she hopes to see.
"So yesterday, we went out and bought more nail polish, and today we wore tutus," Berryann concludes in this deeply touching post, adding ,"So here he is world. See my boy for the amazing person he is. Show him love. Show him acceptance. Help us change the world into one that deserves him."
Deep breath. Because, wow. I am so incredibly moved by what you have written, Devon. Not only have your words inspired me to embrace things about my kids that I may not understand, or even like, so that they can be who they are, but I pledge to be more tolerant of other children whose forms of self-expression may not be what most consider "the norm." I hope parents and people everywhere will join me.
What is your reaction to this amazing post?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.