Isabelle and I had lunch yesterday overlooking the canal in a cozy Italian eatery located in my old neighborhood. 38 years old and full of vitality, she is one of those colleagues I admire so much for their easy going attitude towards life. She is the only child in a family who didn't perturb themselves with gender roles and so she became a civil engineer who works in the mainly male-dominated field of construction. For this she thanks a father who didn't just see a girl but a child who need not be constrained in their interests.So when her 5 year old "petit homme" (as she calls her son) shows an interest in dolls and the occasional penchant for wearing dresses, Isabelle readily indulges him hoping he will just be happy. Whatever he turns out be is fine by her.
Isabelle's best friend committed suicide at age 27; a gay man rejected by his family she saw first hand the devastation which can come when people who are different feel there is nowhere to turn. And so when I look at Isabelle I instinctively know that her "petit homme" will turn out just fine.