Tried to teach my son the skill of mockery yesterday. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Sara, that's a terrible thing to do. Why would you do that? You're an awful mother and you should not be allowed to teach your child anything. Sigh, you wouldn't be alone in feeling that way.
But, all inappropriate jokes aside, there really was an important lesson being taught. I guess yesterday my little man tried to throw his shoe at his other mother. She told him that he couldn't wear his black socks with his shorts, he got mad and threw his shoe. I was trying to talk to him, once again, about respect and treating people with kindness when a basketball player walked by. He was wearing red basketball shorts, a tank top, black sneakers and black socks. So, his Auntie and I mocked. "Look, bud, see how silly he looks with his black socks and his shorts," but my kiddo had tuned out, which he does when he's being lectured for bad behavior. So, you can all breath a sigh of relief that my lesson in mocking did not sink in. Hopefully the rest of the stuff did.
My best friend and I then got to talking about the kind of grown ups we want to be. How we want to be different then the kind of grown ups we grew up with. We want to be a good choice for the kids in our lives to talk to about anything, without being pushovers. We want to celebrate the differences in our children rather than trying to hide them or making them feel ashamed for not being like everyone else.
I was told by my mother and my assistant principal that if I'd only conform to what everyone wanted me to be that I wouldn't get beat up by six boys in our school parking lot. That I wouldn't have beer bottles thrown at me as I walked home from work, I wouldn't get phone calls at all hours calling me a lesbian, a freak, a weirdo. That same assistant principal would no longer give my tormentors passes to get me out of class and push me around the halls.
The point of this is, I never conformed. I refused. I held my head high and I defended my differences and those of my "weirdo" friends. It would have been easy to take that advice and just blend into the background of our small town. But what kind of advice is that really for a child? I didn't want to blend in, I didn't want to be ashamed of who I was on the inside by changing the way I looked on the outside.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I don't care if my son wears black socks with shorts, all kids look a little silly at age nine, and even if they don't, he likes those black socks. He should be able to wear them. He should not throw shoes at his mother, or anybody else, but maybe we all should have been a little more open to the thought of him being perfectly capable of dressing himself at age nine.
I didn't have an adult like that in my formative years. I struggled with my identity because every one I trusted around me was telling me who I was was wrong. Even as an adult, I think twice before I dye my hair with a funky color, or get another tattoo. I think, should a thirty year old woman have pink in her hair? Why the hell not???
The color of my hair does not keep me from performing my job, the size and location of my tattoos does not make me a bad mother, employee, friend, family member. But still I struggle. Still I think, who could this piss off? I don't want my son to feel that way, ever. I want him to have confidence in who he believes he is at that time.
At least I don't have a daughter and I won't have to worry about leggings as pants. Thank God for that!
So, everyone, embrace the children in your life for their quirks. Let them shine! Unless, of course, they're not pants!