Last week my older son was initiated by a new neighbor boy, whom we do not know—even a little. This neighbor decided to “come out” via text message, to my son, who is age 11. When my son was kind and texted “Ok, but be careful who you tell because people might be mean to you or beat you up for that. I understand people are born this way and it is ok”, the neighbor, whom I will call Frederick, took that as a green light to pursue my son. He continued texting him–but only about “gayness”. Laser focused on this singular topic.
When my son did not tell him to bug off or keep it to himself, he took it a step further and began detailing his crush on a boy in their science class and then proceeded to ask my son “Are you gay? Do you like me? You have to be honest and tell me” . Now, my son and this child have never spent time together aside from one week of waiting at the bus stop, never discussed any common interests or normal getting to know you convos. And yet, Frederick prefaced his sharing with, “I want to tell you something because we are good enough friends and I need you to promise not to tell anyone.”
I count my lucky stars that my sweet son came to me directly and promptly. I explained that telling me was the right thing to do but telling anyone else would be harmful. We do not keep secrets in this family– but we can be trusted with things shared in confidence. My son is mature enough to grasp and value this. He expressed that “this” made him feel icky and anguished. Boy, am I blessed to have recovery to help me support his walk through this– without encouraging retaliating or retreating…because WE(my lil family) have learned a third way. The spiritual way. We can express and hold healthy boundaries. He asked (via text) Frederick to not bring up gayness anymore then decided to take it a step further and said “Please do not talk to me anymore”. My son is concerned that IT will persist and he has also expressed confusion about the fact that he feels fearful/ kind of obsessed. I was able to share with him that it felt bad and heavy because he was violated. His gut is informing him: danger danger beware. And the gut message is one to be listened to. Frederick is not dangerous for his gayness, but for his lack of knowing how to navigate safely and with respect for others. That is not his fault, but it is still unsafe for another child whom also does not know and is not ready.
If my son and Frederick had an existing friendship and Frederick shared that he was gay, that would be different. If they were 16 and Frederick shared or initiated, that would be different. Their age and their affiliation is not appropriate for this interaction—and now there is no current possibility for friendship, because Frederick, young, desperate, not knowing, took it too far. I have advised my son to be polite only. Say good morning at the bust stop and then get into a book or his phone…There is a way to be not friends and also non-enemies. My family did not get or teach me this. My ex husband’s family also does not see life this way. Zero-sum all the way.
But WE, we get this and Frederick is one lucky soul that he pulled this with my son who will do no harm and cast no shame or shadow on him. That a person like me, with a family like my own, can guide my son this way is nothing short of a miracle. I hope Frederick finds the support he needs as much as I hope he leaves my son alone. I am so grateful my son trusted and shared with me completely– and that we were able to do this together. Rather than trying to remind him constantly to trust himself and do right, I will use the message board to say what I think needs to be said and remembered. I do not care if my son is gay or not but I do care that he discuss these things with only trusted others, when it feels right and safe for him. And even if he is or might be–Being gay is not reason enough to be friends. I was also able to remind him that he does not ever need to feel as if he must disclose to anyone what or whom he likes.
I am certain I have not done this perfectly. and I am also certain that for now I have done right by my son and this child, in spite of having lived life that would have directed me otherwise. Comments and advice are welcome—Just click the picture to my IG page and get in touch there.Much Love,
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