Monday, 1 April 2013
Dangers of Open Minded Parents
What’s better than having a Friday off work?
Having Monday off as well.
What’s better than having a four day long weekend?
Having a guest blogger who is a ‘big deal’ for “I Get a Day Off From Writing and Feeling Pressure to be Funny and Get to Laugh at Your Stories and Share Some Blog Love Monday”.
Rohan Healy is the blogger behind ROHAN7THINGS. He is musician, songwriter, author, professional sound engineer and music producer. He throws in photography for kicks too. And I thought I was busy!!
Rohan was born in Australia but now lives in Dublin. I wish you could hear the Aussie/Irish accent in my head as I type this.
Trust me…it is awesome mate.
I consider that I was lucky growing up, I had a great childhood with very open minded parents who always supported me. As a kid and in my teens they always got behind me whether it was with my acting, writing, music or martial arts.
But there are times when a parent should perhaps not be so quick to say yes to their child’s, seemingly harmless, wishes. When I was eight years old I had an extreme fascination with The Beatles. I had their complete singles collection as well as a number of albums and would sit there playing tape after tape all day for months. It wasn’t just the music I loved either. I had John Lennon sun glasses, began supporting Liverpool FC and yes, I wanted to grow my hair long. Ever encouraging, my dad happily stopped giving me my regular haircuts and for the next three years my hair grew to a considerable length, passing beyond my shoulders.
I was a cute kid, and quite effeminate, even now if I were to shave I could easily pass for a woman, and yes I know this from experience but that’s a whole other story. I was the cutest, most adorable little eleven year old girl you could imagine. Not only that by my name, Rohan, while usually a boy’s name is actually gender neutral and can be used as a girl's name as well. Of course I knew I was a boy, my family knew I was a boy and so did my old friends, but things got weird when I started attending an Aikido class in Sydney, Australia. I didn’t notice anything for the first few classes, and even after that I put it down to a slip of the tongue or mishearing on my part.
Then one day I and another young lad were asked to stand before the rest of the students and participate in a demonstration. Although I forget his real name, for the sake of this story we’ll call the other boy John.
“John, Rohan, can you come up here for a moment?” Asked the instructor, kneeling in his white Gi and blue Hakama. John and I obliged, standing and facing the rest of the class.
And that’s when it happened.
“Now John,” the teacher continued “hold her wrist like this…” ‘her wrist? Who’s wrist? I don’t see any girls!’ John grabbed my wrist and my heart nearly stopped.
“Now place your other hand on her elbow…” John did as he was told grabbing my elbow with his free hand. ‘They think I’m a girl!!’
I blushed, but kept my cool, I played along. For now I was just some girl, embarrassing for me yes, but nowhere near as embarrassing as it would be if everyone suddenly found out that I’m actually a boy!
“That’s it, now flip her over your hip.” I was thrown through the air and landed on the mat with a thud. I laid there, flat on my back, contemplating the full ramifications of this bizarre turn of events. ‘Every time I walked through the door to Aikido for the past month I’ve become a girl for an hour in the eyes of everyone there! Parents, teacher, students!’
I got through the rest of the day as nonchalantly as I could manage, now fully aware that everyone I spoke to thought I was female. What a unique perspective! I didn’t notice that people treated me much differently, after all we were only kids, we hadn’t hit puberty and young children of both sexes are treated in a pretty similar fashion at that age. Thankfully the bathrooms there were private and unisex so there were no awkward toilet scenes! The saddest thing was that I thought I was making real progress with a little cutie called Sarah, sure we were only eleven but I was a hopeless romantic even back then. Turns out Sarah just thought she had a good girl buddy in me, and clearly didn’t share my feelings. I was giving the term friend zone a whole new meaning!
On the way home in the car I told my dad I wanted a haircut.
“Yeah, I dunno, I just feel like a change,” I was trying to play it cool, I didn’t want to let on the real reason behind my decision, I was embarrassed enough with just me knowing! During the week dad cut my hair, cropped it back and gave me a stylish cut which I really liked. Suddenly washing my hair was a whole lot easier and it felt great not having to push my lengthy auburn locks out of my eyes every two seconds.
The next lesson rolled around and I rocked up with my new do. I thought that once everyone saw my short hair they would realise I’m a guy, get a little bit embarrassed at thinking I was a girl and then move on, forget about the whole thing. Once again John and I were asked to demonstrate, what can I say, I was pretty good at getting flipped.
“Okay John, I want you to place your hand on Rohan's shoulder…” so far so good.
“And now plant your right foot behind her right leg…” No…effing...way! Of course when you get used to someone being a certain sex, a simple haircut is not enough to completely change your gender perception of them!
“And flip her over your hip.” Slam! Laying on my back again, still a girl, albeit with a new boyish, pixy look.
I was quiet on the way home in the car. I liked Aikido, I liked the instructor and my classmates, I didn’t know what to do. I had to choose between announcing in front of the class that I am in fact a boy, creating the most awkward scene in the history of the world, continue on as a girl and live in fear of being found out, or discontinue my participation in the classes.
After some deliberation I chose the latter option.
During the week I told my parents I was sick of Aikido and wanted a change. They understood and as usual they supported my choice. We paid each week so it wasn’t like it was a big deal. A few weeks later I was enrolled in the Australia Theatre for Young People where I studied drama for a year, as a boy.
“Rohan and Rhiannon please stand up and come here,” our drama teacher instructed.
“Now Rhiannon, this is a trust exercise, Rohan will fall backward and you must catch him…” success, and this time I didn’t land flat on my back, I was caught just in time.
Thank you Rohan…or should I say Rowena?