Keeping up with the Joneses.
All of these things make my skin crawl. Absolutely without a doubt make me want to puke.
Beauty my friends is in the quirks, the differences, in the chinks in the armor, but if you are a regular here you already know that.
What brings about all this keeping up with the Joneses talk you ask?
Well two things actually – the first was a conversation I had with my sweet friend, Janet today about how parents she ran into are forcing their sons to play baseball whether they like it or not. And the other is how people react to one of my sons and his love for dolls and all things pink.
It all started when 6 months ago one of my sons asked for a Princess Sofia Castle for his birthday. We bought it for him. It was the one and only thing he asked for.
At Christmas he received some money from his great-grandmother and he chose to buy a Frozen toy.
During the day he puts on fashion shows and sings Let it Go like he is on Broadway.
Recently we went through Old Navy and what did he pick out:
That shirt was all he wanted. Sofia, Anna and Elsa are his favorite cartoon characters of all time. Which I think is pretty awesome because they are kind, strong, funny, independent individuals. They put family and friends first.
But to be completely honest, I am worried about him wearing this shirt and don’t really encourage it if I can help it. In fact, I am so awful that last week when he was wearing it around town I tried to explain it away to a couple that was giving him strange looks.
“Oh wouldn’t it be nice if Disney made a more gender neutral version of each of their character shirts. I just couldn’t talk him out of getting this Sofia shirt.” I say with a wave of my hand.
To which the gentleman replied, “Well when he starts school you won’t have to worry about that anymore. That will put an end to THAT really quick.” His eyeballs giving a piercing stare to the pink Sofia shirt with puffy sleeves.
His words made my stomach turn. I think I even threw up a little bit in my mouth. I don’t want anyone to put an end to it. My sweet son, who puts others first and shares everything, who doesn’t hit or argue should have every right to continue to like pink and love princesses.
Why is it that boys like my son and like Grayson (check out his story here) have to conform to typical gender stereotypes? Ones I don’t really agree with in the first place.
For example, I can’t double-check if my son is okay when he trips and falls without someone telling me, “He’s fine – he has to be tough. He’ll dust it off.”
Puh-leeze; my children were born with inherent personality traits and they know what they do or don’t like and are able to communicate that well. So what if my son wants to be the Broadway Star singing in musicals his whole life and after taking care of dolls for years is a great, hands on father that sounds like a perfectly wonderful type of person to be to me.
So what if my daughter is the “toughest” one in the group, keeping her feelings to herself and never shedding a tear when she scrapes her knee. Sounds like she could be a great CEO or have the kind of strength it takes to be a great mom. Or maybe SHE will decide not have kids and travel the world. Great, I want to raise her so that she can have HER dreams come true.
So what if one son is going to be the Welterweight Champion or play professional football. I don’t want to ever see someone knock down my baby; a baby I protected with every fiber of my being for 8 months. But HIS dreams trump what I want. HIS dreams are what matter in HIS life.
Or what if another one of my kids decides to move to a whole other country, design video games and never visits me. Again, that is fabulous if it is what HE wants in HIS life.
We need to raise our kids not in our own image, but allow them to become the best version of themselves and pursue what makes them happy.
I think what a lot of parents are missing; what a lot of our society is missing is that children need the room to be themselves. We only need to offer support and encouragement in a safe, comforting environment where they can truly express themselves. If the home is the place where they can comfortably be themselves then they will have the strength to do that out in the world as well. The hard part is that we are all in this together parents – our kids have to share this world like it or not so we all need to teach them to respect one another.
We need to remind our children that beauty is in the differences. What makes us unique makes us interesting. Accepting people as they are without any prerequisites or stereotypical bias is what is important.
We need to describe people as they are in all their glory; not try to conform to make sure we are keeping up with our neighbors or society’s expectations.
A hot-tempered, serious-minded, overly optimistic, super shy girl doing the best I can to offer my children room to grow into their best selves. A woman who adores her husband, in spite of how upset he can make me. Writing against my better judgement to an audience I am forever grateful to and above all else I love my family, friends, books, converse and coffee. Oh, I do love coffee. And Converse – I also really love Converse.