By Sylvie Griffiths:

As parents, we want the world for our children. Additionally, we want the world to cherish, accept, and love them as we do. Our dreams for our children are more significant and brighter than our own. So, what do we do when adversity strikes?

I remember being bullied in school from an early age. In elementary, the teasing about my glasses and the fact that I did not celebrate Christmas. I even felt out of place at times as a 33-year-old woman back in college at a huge state university. This world is not always kind.

Last week I rewarded three of my kids with a summer break treat; we all went and got pedicures. For my two youngest, Sydnee and Jake, this was their first time getting a pedicure. Everyone was excited, and I was pretty happy with myself. Momma needed a bit of pampering too. Jake decided he wanted his toes painted with color versus a clear.

My youngest Jake identifies as transgender. His happiness is just as important as all my other three children, but my husband and I tend to worry about him a lot more. The dark blue Jake got done on his feet made him so happy that we had to buy flip flops to show off this first pedicure. But then came the anxiety.

Would Jake’s friends at summer reading camp accept a boy with painted toes? Would his happiness turn to sadness and embarrassment? Would I feel like a lousy parent for encouraging his individuality? The day dragged for me in my worried state of mind, but finally, the bus dropped my little guy on our street.

Jake’s face said it all. My youngest looked upset as he strolled to where I awaited his arrival. My heart sunk and I put on my biggest brightest mom smile. Jake’s “friends,” told him his toes were stupid and looked weird and that boys don’t paint their toes. His joy from the day before was stolen from him.

Later that night, when my husband arrived home, we talked with Jake. We asked him if he liked his blue toes and we reminded him that being yourself is the best person to be. I had mentioned before school that not everyone would love his toes but as long as he did that was all that mattered. Honestly, it seemed my words did not hit home when I saw his defeated posturing when he walked off the bus.

Jake will not be accepted in all circles for being transgender. My other children will be met with adversity as well. Adults even face bullies once we grow up, but I want my kids to be confident enough to ignore this ignorant and hurtful behavior. Where Jake is concerned, my family has a long road ahead of us. This will not be the last incident where he subjected to public opinion while merely being himself.

Jake got on the bus today for summer school. His toes are still blue. He has added his fingernails since that unfortunate day. He’s wearing sneakers today though because the weather calls for rain. Those flip-flops will come out later this week.

About Sylvie Griffiths:

Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.

She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.