One day, when my grandson was still just a baby and the Health Visitor had come to check he was OK, my daughter was just putting his socks on him when the Health Visitor said:
“Trying to cause gender confusion are we?”
And my daughter said “What?”
And looked at the socks, which happened to be pink.
Just then I dropped by, and she said to me “Hello dad!” and then to her baby
“Look, here’s your grandma”
And then to the Health Visitor
“This is my dad Jo. She’s my son’s grandma” and carried on as if nothing had happened.
And the Health Visitor was so shocked she never said a word.
Now I’m really just an inoffensive soul and I don’t really want to shock Health Visitors.
But I often do.
And I wonder if she put a note in my grandson’s file along the lines of query gender confusion or something.
Or whether she’s another one of those to mark me down as a bad and corrupting influence.
My grandson’s much bigger now, he goes to school and everything. And he’s the most charming most boyish boy you could ever meet.
And I wonder: should I explain?
Should I warn him that because his family’s a wee bit different he might turn out to be different too?
I wonder if I should tell him that his mum was bullied because she brought a lunch box to primary school with a picture of Asterix the Gaul?
Or that his aunty was considered stupid because her amazing gifts did not conform to what the school called intelligence?
Or that his other grandma was placed at the back of the class and left to herself because she only spoke English?
Or that when I was young I did everything I could to be the same as everyone else and it didn’t work. Because I was different no-one in my school spoke to me for a whole term and acted like I didn’t exist.
I could say that everyone’s different and because lots of people are frightened nowadays lots of people want to be the same as everyone else.
And to be considered a rebel is the easiest thing in the world.
I want to make sure he knows his dad’s different too. And that his mum’s a structural engineer. And his aunty is a magazine editor. And his other grandma wrote books.
And that as for me I had to find the way to accept I was different before I could get anywhere in this world.
That we all go through that. Him too. He’ll need to find himself somehow.
So I think I’ll say:
“Be yourself, dear loved one. It’s the only way”.
And his wee sister wears the pink socks now.
And also the blue.