The beady-eyed amongst you, and anyone who has had any kind of contact with Owen recently, will have realised that his penchant for dresses has not abated in the slightest. That's going on three years now. I think we can safely say it's not 'just a phase'. And I considered it was time for an update.
Last time I mentioned that Owen had worn a dress to school. He did it maybe three or four times and then didn't ask again and we never forced the issue. At home, and out and about, he continued with his dress-wearing. When we were in Blighty in February I said he could choose his own dress. I was sick and tired, and I think so was he, of having to always borrow dresses from Matilda. This is the dress he chose:
|Alien in a dress. Only Owen!|
Having his own dress to wear, naturally he wanted to wear it out. He started with dance class. One girl made fun of him, he didn't care, "C'est pas grave" he told me, and the next week he wore a dress again. Then he wanted to wear his dress for school. So he did. On Monday evening his teacher, Cati, waited for me and we walked home together. She said two girls in Owen's class had made fun of him and Owen had got very angry. Cati said she was cross because nobody else had made an issue of it. She said she had proposed that Owen bring up the subject in the Conseil on Friday, the weekly discussion for the kids to air any problems or concerns they might have. She said she would leave it entirely up to Owen whether he wanted to speak or not. I agreed entirely. I talked to Owen at home, he said he had told the two girls that they were not nice to make fun of him, that he had the right to wear a dress if he wanted to, and he assured me he had every intention of bringing up what had happened in the Conseil. He also said that one of his friends, Cloé, had stood up for him. I made a point of mentioning this to Cloé's mum, as I thought it was rather admirable on her part.
The next day Fanf and I decided to follow Owen's lead dress-wise. With no hesitation he decided to wear a dress again. As he did every other day that week. Friday after school I asked him how the Conseil had gone. He told me he had explained to everyone that he could wear a dress if he wanted to and the result was that the two girls had to pay a fine for "violence". The Caladreta considers verbal bullying as violence. Absolutely right. Matilda said that during her Conseil she had also pointed the finger at some boys in her class who had made fun of Owen. Owen is very lucky to have his big sister looking out for him. One of my worries was that Matilda would also suffer for Owen's predilections but she seems every bit as capable as he is of standing up for herself and him. Lucky Owen!
Now Owen wears a dress regularly and we have had nothing but supportive comments from other parents/friends. Some, who were sceptical at first, have said that actually they realise they don't really mind. Even Fanf's parents the other day told Owen how nice he looked all dressed up for Easter Sunday. Wow! I was both taken aback and touched. When I spoke to Cati she said she felt people were becoming more conservative, less open to difference, that Owen was good for the school because he challenged people's attitudes. I don't want to force Owen to bear the responsibility of being different for the sake of enlightening society, and we have never encouraged him to wear a dress, we've always tried to just follow his lead. But he seems comfortable and happy and that's all we want. So much the better if he can be comfortable and happy without feeling any pressure to conform.
When I grandly pronounced in my previous post that we aimed to give Owen the courage to be himself, there was still always the lingering doubt that we were merely setting him up for a fall. The idea that self-confidence stops bullies is a shaky one. But, halelujah, in Owen's case, for the moment, our support seems to have paid off. He has proved he is capable of fighting his corner and quite honestly the occasional comments he gets at school (because obviously there are some) seem like water off a duck's back.
So hooray for Owen - I'm so proud of him, he's his own man.
In a dress.