I took the kids to see “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” Parker had been counting down the days until its release. Unbeknownst to me, he had also been debating on what costume to wear to the movie theater since seeing the trailer.
He came downstairs ready for the show wearing an orange wig and the Mad Hatter hat he worked so hard to purchase this year. I got choked up when I saw him because I’m so proud of this kid and how he owns who he is. Growing up I was an incredibly self-conscious child and no matter how badly I wanted to wear a pink wig while imitating Jem on the sidewalk it was not going to happen– someone might laugh.
His siblings followed suit, picked out less-flashy costume pieces and piled into the car. We had to wait a bit for the show and as people filed in to see the new Captain America movie I cringed a little. Adults generally smile at my son’s costumes but I knew we were pushing our luck with this crowd.
The 8 to 12 year old movie-goers with their dads were in line behind the teen groups in sports jerseys punching each others shoulders to pass the time. I kept a constant watch for looks and whispers, glancing back and forth to Parker, hoping he didn’t see any. To my relief he was so excited about the show and so generally happy with his outfit choice, it didn’t cross his mind anyone might be staring at him.
Both of my boys are at the age of sports teams. Sawyer loves any sport our schedule will allow. Parker loves to wear a Cheshire Cat tail while asking if his brother’s soccer game is almost over. He also loves to perform magic tricks as we melt on baseball bleachers. When Parker puts on a costume before heading into a crowd or sings his best show tune on the soccer blanket I swell with pride in the same way I do when Sawyer scores a goal or heads to home plate.
For some reason though, the general population has decided that Sawyer’s choice of activities are “what boys should do” and Parker should keep cycling through sports until he finds one he enjoys. As the weather warms I’ve heard others encourage him to “grab a ball” or “get in the game with the boys” more times than I can count. Sometimes he joins because he’s not quite sure how to say no. Sometimes he continues past adjusting his king’s crown, asking me to retie his cape.
I pulled him aside this weekend and the weekend before that and the Wednesday before that and probably the Monday before that too and reminded him that he can do whatever makes him happy. That everyone likes different things. He doesn’t have to play baseball or wrestle in the front yard just because the other boys are rolling around in the grass.
I’m so so happy he has found his passion in plays and music and costume-creating. He’s connected with some great boys to look up to who enjoy the same. I find it odd so many adults encourage him to join the game/head out on the field/pick up a bat. He’s not missing out on anything by not playing a sport. If he enjoyed them he would be bummed to be sitting on the sidelines watching his brother play. But if he’s doing his best Grinch impression while sketching out his next costume in the gravel then that’s all he needs.
The main role, speaking lines and clip on microphone he wore in his last play are his home runs, goals and touch downs.
They are mine too.
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I struggle with similar challenges. We have made such great strides for our girls — everyone welcomes and supports my daughter playing basketball, loving science and such; but the world is not as accepting of my son enjoying activities that are still too-commonly considered “girl activities.” My son doesn’t seem to care — much — and I hope he stays strong and true to himself, and I will support him … but I worry how the rest of the world will treat him! Thanks, Jessica, for this inspiration and all your posts!!!
Adelaide Dupont says
These costumes are magical!
Thanks so much, he loves putting them together.
Lori W says
I just shared this. It perfectly sums up the importance of fostering individuality in our little ones. It’s all about instilling confidence and individuality. You’re an amazing Mom!!
Kathy at kissing the frog says
One of Hubby’s nephews was never into sports as a kid. Then in high school, he found theater. Now he is a very happy adult, directing and writing plays and occasionally performing in them. It makes me so proud to see him so happy and satisfied with his life. That’s all we should want for them – that they are happy.
Exactly. I want all of my kids to do whatever makes them most happy.