K was 2 years old the first time he told us he was really a boy. That’s quite young and we didn’t take him seriously. In fact, we wrote it off as a phase, one of many K would experience over the years. I was pregnant with my 3rd child and K was about to be ousted as the baby of the family. If anything, it seemed natural for K to think he was a boy. He spent most of his time with his older brother and right after his 2nd birthday, a new boy cousin was born.
After telling us he was a boy, he began telling us that his name was “Arthur”. Yes, THE Arthur the Aardvark, star of the popular children’s tv show. Looking back, it is the first sign we had that he identified with a male character more than female. What little girl didn’t want to be rambunctious unstoppable DW, Arthur’s little sister? Well, my little girl, for one. Not long after Arthur, K moved on to “Peter”, short for Peter Pan. He took to wearing a green feathered hat at all times. We humored him. We called him by these names. But I do remember reminding him that he was really a girl. I didn’t know. I couldn’t know at that time. It was 1995.
This continued and then the new baby was born and he was a boy. K and Andy were close from the beginning. Their personalities were very similar. They looked alike. In early baby pictures the only way we could distinguish them was by their clothing and later by K’s ginger hair. They even sounded identical. I used to say that if they did that test where they blindfold the mom and ask her to pick out her child solely by his voice, I would be screwed. They were both so articulate and I would have to listen for some catch phrase that one or the other used. So, my two younger children were two peas in a pod despite a 2-1/2 year age difference.
Last year we finally cleared up something that had been puzzling us for years. Andy, our youngest, is very smart and as I mentioned articulate. He always used vocabulary well above his age. There was only one problem. He mixed up gender pronouns ALL THE TIME! We couldn’t understand how a child who was so bright couldn’t grasp a simple concept such as boy- he/girl-she. And yet, this continued on from the time he could talk until well into preschool. Yes, it was years. Last year when 3 year old CJ mixed up his pronouns, I started thinking back to when Andy did the same thing. I know that it is common for young children to sometimes confuse gender pronouns. I even shared with CJ’s mom, Jasmine, that Andy had done the same thing but it had lasted forever. Then it occurred to me, if Andy had a little birdie (or a big sister who he idolized) telling him something that contradicted what he was being told, that could do it. I can just picture K telling him that he wasn’t a girl and to say “he” when talking about his sister. And Andy would do it. I know he would. I look at the two of them now at 18 and 21 and I’m sure of it! Yet another piece in the puzzle.
K presented us with many challenges in those early years- struggles which continue today. I’m beginning to think they might never end. But looking back at K at those young ages, when he was trying to tell us what was going on, it helps me realize that this has been there since the beginning. It supports what K told us almost 3 years ago. It explains so much. We just weren’t looking for it.