I am getting Superman dressed for Polish school. It is a rare rainy day in Orange County. After digging in the kids’ closet for something warm and rainproof, I emerge victorious, a blue and red jacket that has been hibernating in the very back for almost a year.
“I am not wearing that to school mommy!”
“Honey, it is raining outside and you need to be warm and that’s what jackets do; they keep you warm and cozy.”
“No! All of the kids will make fun of me! It’s puffy and big and everyone will laugh at me!”
I thought I was good for another couple of years, but I realize I have to have a super condensed version of the “it doesn’t matter what other people think, always be true to yourself, people who make fun of you are only doing it because they are insecure about themselves” talk before my little dude falls apart in the hallway. I am baffled by his stress level. Doesn’t this happen during the pubescent years?
I give him my speech, emphasizing the fact that he can take the puffy jacket off as soon as he walks into the classroom, but he is unfazed and crying. What is happening? Clearly I am unprepared to deal with this. He has never shown any fear of what others may think of him until now. He wears sandals and crocs with socks on, a representation of his Eastern European roots. Just last Wednesday he picked out fluorescent green Halloween socks and paired them with his new black sandals. Ew, okay? But I let him do it, because I love how free from worry and potential judgment he is.
What the hell?
Who made fun of my little boy? Who planted this little seed of doubt?
Because I will find you and teach you a thing or two about tolerance and individuality and freedom of expression. You don’t mess with a 5 year old and his mama.
Just when I think I have a particular phase of childhood completely nailed down, there’s new drama just lurking around the corner. This time though, I am witnessing my little guy give in to the same false idea I have been battling myself for decades: What others think of you is of paramount importance.
This calls for a massive intervention. I’m talking tights and tu tu’s. For him, not for me. You don’t want to see me in a tu tu. Take my word for it.
But anyway, I have to undo this quickly before he starts asking me to buy pimple cream and hair gel.