I found myself in tears tonight, reading the story of 11-year-old Michael Morones, a young boy who was bullied into a suicide attempt, just because he loved My Little Pony. It wasn’t just his story that gnawed at my heart, but I couldn’t help but think of my own sweet son who also likes “girl things” like My Little Pony.
When I was a kid, I LOVED My Little Pony. I had the toys, watched the cartoon and wished beyond all hope that I would wake up a pony. Preferably a flutter pony. So, when I discovered My Little Pony had been brought back for a new generation of impressionable kidlets, I was excited. I could share my childhood joy with them. This desire to share my youth with my kids also extends to playing Bon Jovi in the car, explaining jelly bracelets and making them play Mouse Trap.
We started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the kids loved it! It entered heavy rotation in our house, alongside Doc McStuffins and Octonauts. Of course, when the cartoon love consumes a child, the toys, books and DVDs are not far behind. Now, can I admit something? I bought the DVDs thinking the kids would share them, and the stuffed animals for my daughter because she is a hoarder of plush. There are pony toys that are sold as “blind bags” or, as the kids and I called them, “mystery ponies.” You never know what kind of pony you are going to get. It could me one of the main 6, or it could be someone you’ve never heard of. Hence, the mystery. Initially, my daughter wanted them, but then my son wanted to start his pony collection. I paused. I wondered if I should encourage something that was “for girls.” I am ashamed to think of this now. Eventually, I mentally slapped myself and realized that it doesn’t matter what he likes as long as it isn’t hurting him or anyone else. So, I bought him the mystery ponies. I felt up so many bags to determine if they were pegasi, unicorns or earth ponies, that I felt like a predator.
I didn’t mind, but eventually, there came a point where my son minded. You know, as much as I had “pause” over his pony love, I had great sadness when he decided to give his ponies to his sister. There was one pony in particular, Princess Celestia, that he was ECSTATIC to receive. It was my touchpoint. My affirmation that I was doing the right thing. And he gave it away. His friends in school did not watch ponies. They did not get excited over Princess Celestia. Once, his sister was in the car when he was dropped off and she was watching some asinine Barbie movie. He made my husband turn the movie off because he didn’t want anyone to think HE was watching it.
And this is at the heart of why I was devastated by Michael Morones’ story. There are kids who feel they cannot be themselves because of how other children will treat them. I know it is not a new concept; I have horrible recollections of being teased for my frizzy perm and glasses. But, this is MY baby. He is my first born. Sensitive, smart and, yes, living with ADHD. I don’t know if that makes him somehow more sensitive to the world around him, or if it is just a part of his personality, like the way he enjoys My Little Pony.
When I first learned of bronies, or guys who liked My Little Pony, I thought they were weird. I mean, who likes Twilight Sparkle when they are “old enough to know better?” Admittedly, this was the same time my kids were learning the joys of Twilight and her pals. But, somehow, my kids were “different.” Then, I researched the brony movement, watched the documentary and made a few conclusions.
They are my son, at different ages. There are probably a few fruit loops in the group. Every group has one, just like every family has the one relative who spews crazy at the holidays. But, overall, they are just guys who happen to love the message these ponies serve up; friendship, kindness and honesty. What more can a mother hope for from her kids?
So, here I am. If I can support my son, then I will declare myself a Pegasister and wave my Twilight Sparkle flag high. All hail the ponies of Equestria. I shall also offer up a prayer for the family of Michael Morones. Please, dear Lord, let this boy recover and may our world become a little more accepting of the people in it.