After a sweet exchange with the cashier, he turned, his kind eyes zeroed in on my son and he asked him, “What’s your favorite sport?”
No, not AGAIN!
It is so freaking common. Please stop. I get it, you’re being nice, and I thank you for seeing and acknowledging my child. But please, stop asking him what sports he plays.
He doesn’t like sports. I don’t know why. I don’t care. I can guess, but really, that’s not the point. The point is that he doesn’t like sports, so when people ask him which sports he plays, it takes that moment of, “Yes, you see me; I am part of this world,” and crushes it into another uncomfortable, and quite honestly, annoying moment.
His shoulders drop as he says, “Soccer.”
The cashier goes on about how awesome that is and gives him a high five. It’s the lamest high five… because my son was lying. I mean, not really. My son likes playing soccer with his buddies at recess and randomly in the driveway. But the sport of soccer… no. Would he want to play on a team? No. He doesn’t like sports. Period.
I want to step in and challenge this question. But I don’t. This is my son’s journey.
We talk about it as we walk out of Target. What else can he say? We trying coming up with something creative and funny.
“Do you play sports?”
“No, I’m a triathlete.”
“No, do you?”
“No, Sports are for girls.”
“What sports do you like?”
“The sport of happiness.”
“I run from girls.”
“Gross, sports are for girls.”
*Can you tell which one I like?
But he’s not that interested in challenging societal norms like I am, so he concludes that he does like soccer and is content with the easy answer.
I’m not. So I’ll keep asking people — yes, you people — to think about what you ask the children you meet in the world and what that says to them about expectations and acceptance.
I’ll keep asking you to get honest with yourself about how your biases influence the questions you ask boys and girls and what it means to even assume whether a child identifies as a boy or a girl. Notice your biases. Challenge yourself to see girls as more than just pretty and to see boys as more than just athletes. Because we are. And you know it.