When you are young, is there a sound as euphonious as the recess bell? As soon as that bell would ring, I would join in the throng of kids racing out of the doors onto the fields that resembled a middle-aged man’s head: lush with grass in some places, and completely bald in others.
Most of the bald spots were due to years of use in areas that were deemed “base” for our intense kickball games. Kickball was our politics. Your performance each game determined how soon you would be chosen to selected to play in the next game. There was no greater dread than being that lone person, standing in one of those bald, dirt mounds, with everyone looking at you. You aren’t so much as chosen, but leftover for the last selecting team. So kickball wasn’t just a game, it was placement and everyone brought the appropriate intensity.
The biggest interruption—besides someone contesting a play—was when the boys got hit in their private area. Unlike when someone got hit in the head or arm, when one of my male friends got hit in his “nuts” nothing short of a production ensued. There would be clutching and moaning. Some of the more theatric would fall to the ground writhing in pain.
My 8-12 year old little brain always was perplexed by these seemingly outlandish expressions of pain. I had never seen “balls” or “nuts” as we called them, but thought it curious that God would make my friends so vulnerable to even the lightest assault. How big were these nuts anyway, I pondered? Why so sensitive? Were there nerves on the outside? Did they become tougher in time, as I didn’t ever see my father writhe with such agony?
But let me get to the real point of this story—to the nut of it, so to speak. None of the girls ever questioned the validity of the boys’ nut productions or nut pain. I can’t remember one girl ever screaming as one of her classmates grabbed between his legs and rolled around on the ground, “Oh, come on, get up! It doesn’t hurt.” Admittedly, I don’t know why the other girls didn’t say a word, but I guess at least many of them didn’t for the same reason I didn’t: I don’t have nuts (be clear, I’m not talking in the figurative sense here).
I don’t have nuts so how can I really speak to how my friends felt. It just seemed best to be quiet about the entire nut -situation. Even now that I am the mother of two boys, I trust what they tell me about parts that I know nothing about.
So, I’m frequently confused by people’s strong opinions about certain things that they cannot even remotely relate to: White people pontificating about how Black people should feel today about slavery; Men talking about how women should feel about childbirth and childcare options; and most recently, non-transgender people railing against Bruce Jenner becoming a woman. Candidly, I do not fully understand the Bruce Jenner / Caitlyn transition or the feelings that transgender people must experience. It is due to my confusion; it is for my very lack of understanding that I trust them to know what’s best for them. I respect their journey. I certainly know that they at least know more about the topic than I. So, just as I at 8 figured that the guys in my 2nd grade class knew more about their balls and how they felt; I am going to assume that Bruce Jenner knew more about his balls, his gender, and now what is best for her.