Radical Parenting (2): He YiDe and Leo

Following up on a recent post on this topic, I am drawn back to it by the discussion about 4yo He YiDe which has gone viral: his parents forced him to go near-naked into the snow in New York City to toughen him up:

He looks kind of happy in that shot, but we understand that he wasn’t:

Now the self-styled ‘Eagle Father’ (we’ve had ‘Tiger Mothers’ already) is being hounded, world-wide, for cruelty.

Well, I worry about my 10yo Leo. His family situation is unusual to say the least, living with a lesbian couple, one of whom is his mum, whist I, his dad, live with my perfect boyfriend Dave. Leo spends lots of time with us of course, especially using our training cabin to practice his acrobatics and to build up his strength using our weights with his friend Chris and Chris’s older (and seriously responsible) brother Billy. Even Billy and Chris’s dad joins us sometimes. Leo also has  “sister”, product of the other lesbian mum and Dave. Yes, it’s strange, but it works fine and we’re all proud of the kids.

Since this entire ‘famiily’ are acrobatic and endurance performers (the girls started with body-burning and suspensions, we all use beds of nails and glass), I guess everyone is quite tough. Leo is proud of his personal bed of nails and is extremely knowledgable and well trained in its use, of course. And he’s strong enough to hold “sister” Jaymee over his head, one arm balancing…

We’ve always trained and performed shirtless, so he’s quite natural with that. Before the kids were born, the rest of us, with friends from Chad’s gym, occasionally did stuff like ice swimming, wrestling in the snow and so forth: as a family we’ve regularly gone skinny dipping in the Clinch river, all seasons. So Leo’s usual dress code is a pair of shorts and, apart from school, and in extremely cold weather, that’s usually the lot.

Of course, he is proud of ‘testing himself’ with shirtless snowball fights and silly stuff too. But he, and we, are sensible enough most of the time and he thrives on the adventure and just wants to share more and more in our ‘trade’ of performance. As he is still developing physically, however, we are extremely careful what we allow him to attempt and what we do not, and we think that we get it pretty much right.

The only fly in the ointment is the father of one of his other best mates, who accused him of being a fag because he showed up at the guy’s house shirtless and with his reputation (family circumstances) viewed as a stigma there. Of course, the boys got around the ban, and I think that the father knows it. He is ferociously homophobic and, it has to be said, in the bible-belt of Tennessee, he has a lot of support.

So, should you let your kid run around naked in the snow? Discuss!

We’re not the only ones: the Russians love ice swimming too. Hey, fancy a dip? Come and join me…

‘Hey, I thought YOU were going to bring the pick to make the hole…’

‘Look, there’s two guys over there just come out of the water…’ Kewl!

Kewl enough?

That’s South Korean army training, by the way. Looks fun. And we also hear that some of the UK rugby football players are travelling to Poland to be deep-frozen in a special training facility.

So, us letting Leo chill out in the snow – maybe not so bad. At least he wants to do it, and our job is to limit his enthusiasm. Tiny He YiDe didn’t exactly volunteer, but maybe one day he’ll look back on his vast portfolio of publicity photographs and say ‘Hey, that’s me! Kewl!’

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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2 Responses to Radical Parenting (2): He YiDe and Leo

  1. Doc says:

    I know what the kid’s going though–I grew up gay in the buckle of the Bible belt. At least your son has a good parent around

  2. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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