Those Crazy Kids!

 

Driving home this morning after a back-and-forth crazy race of pre-dawn Pilates, getting kids fed, watered, dressed, soothed due to a missing plastic crocodile, then preschool drop-off, school bus hand-off, swim lesson registration, traffic, breakfast in the car and the realization that I would need to do some deep breathing to settle myself calmly in to the day, I saw something that made me laugh out loud. Alone in the car thinking about more coffee I saw a mother pushing a jogging stroller, dog leash in hand, child in tow. And said child was wearing neon green-and-black plastic swim flippers. I’m guessing his age at two or three and plain as day he shouted “I am making my own choices and I feel great about it!” He sat in his stroller and the flippers stuck straight up in the air. And it made me laugh and it warmed my heart.

I can imagine the scene as he, his mother and the dog prepared for their morning walk. Perhaps the flippers are new, perhaps flipper-wearing is an everyday thing. Who knows. What is clear is that he wanted to wear his flippers and so he did. Of course he doesn’t need them, likely not even in the water, in a swimsuit, in the summer. This child probably cannot swim. But, he has a flipper fetish. And so what. And that’s what’s great about it. His mother is giving him the greatest gift we can give our children: the freedom to be who they are, to experiment with what they want and to make their own choices when it empowers them and doesn’t risk their safety. If my kid wanted to put his finger in a light socket or run naked (or clothed) in traffic, I would say “no.” And it would be an emphatic “no.” But flipper choices do no harm. In fact, they help. They teach children that it’s OK to be yourself. Experiment, try new things, show yourself to the world no matter what.  

This morning my four-year old didn’t want to get dressed. So, I suggested he wear his favorite comfy outfit. His face lit up. Picture a pair of green-and-blue camouflage fleece pants and a green fleece shirt with a giant dinosaur on it. Now picture it three sizes too small. He calls this outfit his “comfy PJs.” It’s actually a pseudo sweat-suit. It was a gift to his older brother from my mother-in-law and I instantly didn’t like it. I was being a snob. But to my partial credit then, I knew the shirt would be a hit; it’s the dinosaur factor and the fleece factor. Pretty much a slam dunk when it comes to a little boy; comfy and fierce. My older son never wore the pants though. I kept them in the back of his drawer. And, they are a small enough size that I was still dressing him when they would have fit. No son of mine, and blah blah blah . . . well who did I think I was?

Fast forward and the pants went in to my younger son’s cubby at preschool as back-up pants. He wore them once and there was no turning back. He glommed on to that outfit and he won’t let go. But I have let go. Who cares as long as it’s not twenty degrees and he wants to go out in a wife-beater? Camo-Capris? Why not? Flippers? Go for it. My son puts on those ridiculous pants and smiles as broad as the midday sun. He doesn’t care that his ankles (and shins) are in the breeze. He’s comfortable and feels good about himself and I can’t bring myself to disappear that Glamour Don’t. Soon we will have to, the shirt is hard to get on—it’s just too small. He sees this. The other day he said “Mom, soon we have to send this to Baby Benjamin.” (Benjamin is his three-year old cousin and I fear it may be too small for him already.)  But, unless and until he says otherwise, he can wear his pilling-green-and-blue-fleece-dinosaur-camouflage-comfy PJ-Capri pants-outfit whenever he wants. It hurts no one and it makes him feel good. My work here is done.

Comments

  1. Right on JK. I want a pair of flippers. Do they come in orange and who will push me in a stroller?

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  2. The fleece pants remind me of my little brother. When he was 5 or so he wore a pair of black sweatpants every single day. Inside out. Eventually with multiple holes in the legs. For at least a year, if not two. My parents never said a word but my sister and I attempted to shame him out of them.

    The things I regret now…

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  3. I love this!. I fight myself all the time with those thoughts from my mother’s generation “I can’t let you out of the house like that!”. Then I realize, like you, who is really going to hurt. Drew wanted to wear shorts to school this month and I let him, but made sure he had on 2 shirts. He soon realized his legs were cold. Isn’t it better to let them experience those lessons than always being nagged at them?

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  4. whoops, wrong link to my blog previously.

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  5. Jenny Kanevsky says:

    And this morning, as we were getting dressed, Lucas looked at his favorite outfit and said, “Mom, we need to send that to Baby Benjamin today. It’s too small!” I’m actually kind of sad. I will miss those camo-Capri pants. To paraphrase Vince Vaughn, he’s all growns up, and yes Deborah, he got there himself. So much better.

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