Playing is a way to see the world, to create an understanding for everything. Kids love switching into different characters, getting dressed up and being someone else for just a moment. They see the world differently. They see it without these “boxes” in which adults often instinctively put people. Children ask questions, and wonder about certain behaviors that grown up’s would never consider. Why? Adults learned that some things are the way they are. Period. This answer would never be enough for a kid. When do adults stop asking? Is it easier to accept a specific way of thinking, than daring to think differently?
Imagine a kid who is wearing a skirt, and playing princess with a doll. What do you think? Is it a little girl or a boy? Why do you think this is obvious? It was not even 200 years ago, when men wore nightgowns. Back then, nobody thought this was weird in some way. Why does it feel strange now? People tend to familiar patterns. When I know something, it gives me some comfort. I feel well. However, when I am not used seeing one thing, my brain goes instantly on some sort of alarm. It is like looking at a picture and see a mountain upside down, or a tree growing on top of a house. These might be weird examples, but it may create pictures in your head, of which you think they aren’t right that way.
Kids see the world differently. They don’t fully comprehend what is going on in the world – honestly, do we know all that? Kids don’t care about physics or biology. In their phantasies, everything is possible. A boy who wears a pink skirt and loves glitter is acceptable, until kids learn how things “ought to be”. Parents tell them that mountains are no crates, and that trees need lots of soil to grow which is usually not on rooftops. They also learn about stereotypes like girls wear skirts and boys wear pants. Only a kid would question why girls can wear both but boys can’t.
You act like a girl. Have you ever heard that sentence? I did, and it was not meant in a nice way. Why? There is no negative word in it. I am a girl. Why would I act like a boy? When did it become a bad thing to be a girl? It is not, but there is this cliché that girls are weak. In some countries, still these days, men can deny a woman to work or to leave the house without their permission. In Saudi Arabia, women have the right to drive cars for only almost a year now. A huge milestone for them. Women can do much more than men think. Girls can wear pants now. That wasn’t so common only 50 years ago. Stereotypes work in both ways. It is created by society to help us that we all can relate to each other. What’s familiar connects us. Anyway, not everyone is the same.
Something different does not automatically indicate bad things. People can relate to those who dare to be unlike others. Maybe they will inspire them to see their true selves. Every person around me is a part of how I see the world. Some have positive effects and some caused negative ones. I learned that everyone has her own story to tell. I do not want to be in their way to tell it. I do not want anyone to say what I have to wear, what I have to think, or how I have to feel. When I wear a dress, I do it. Okay, I am a girl, but even if I wasn’t, that should be no issue. I have seen guys in New York wearing skirts and dresses. Nobody was looking at them, but unfortunately, not every place is like NY.
In the movie, “A Kid Like Jake”, a little boy doesn’t understand why he cannot be himself. Jake wants to wear what he feels comfortable in, just like any other kid. He wants to play with what he loves the most. Why should these be problems? His parents accept him, and they do everything they can to make him happy. His mother, a former lawyer, knows what should be right. His father, a therapist, can relate to other people’s feelings. How hard must it be for them seeing injustice to their son, feeling with him, feeling so helpless to make his life better? How can they do that, when society “thinks” there is something wrong with him? He is smart, and he is talented. He is like any other kid, and still he is not.
“A Kid Like Jake” is not only about a kid who feels differently, and parents who do their best to support him. It’s about stereotypes and how we deal with them. A boy wearing a skirt might be gay, or maybe he is transgender, even when he is not yet in school. When did a skirt become a piece of cloth that is labeled “for girls only”? Does a skirt make a man instantly gay and does gay mean a “female man”? I think we came a long way of understanding and being more open about other people, but there is still a long way to go. Every kid should watch this movie, maybe even in schools, to learn acceptance and tolerance because everyone can feel differently somehow. Adults should see that as well and think about the effect of putting people into boxes too quickly. It is an easy thing to do, definitely easier than trying to understand and accept. However, think about, do you want to be put into a box? Do you want to be labeled in some way? No one is alike, but everyone is equal. Aren’t we all somehow “A Kid Like Jake” wondering why we should be how others want us?