My son kind of marches to his own drummer. As a former drama club vice president and general artsy-fartsy person, this fact makes me very proud most of the time. I am not a mother who winces or begs for forgiveness with her eyes when my son walks out to the car for a trip to the market wearing snow boots, a cape, and one glove with the fingers (but not the thumb) cut off. Some of you may have felt this way when your children were, say… 3 years old. When they’re 3 it’s cute if they dress themselves in two pair of pants and a Thomas the Train Engine bathrobe… My son is 7.
I know there are moms out there who are with me. I see other kids out in public flying their “I’m a Bit Odd” flag proudly, and I give their moms a knowing look as we pass each other, judging our awesomeness based on the level of odd our children have achieved. But while I may be okay with a kid who dresses like he just finished playing an old party game involving a stopwatch and a box full of clothes, HE is certainly old enough to know when something he wears may invite some criticism from his peers. Such was the case with the “cowgirl boots”.
We found the boots on a treasure-hunting day-trip a month or so ago. My husband and son agreed to indulge my desire to go look at stores full of old stuff, and we all had a little Christmas money to spend. As we wandered through a flea market, G spotted them. He immediately had to try them on, and was thrilled to find they fit. The price, $14, was not outrageous, and after confirming several times that he did, indeed want to spend some of his money on them, he was allowed to carry them through the rest of the store. He didn’t even make it to the cashier before begging to put them on.
The boots didn’t come off his feet for a full 48 hours after purchase, and he had to wear them to school the next Monday. He was so proud! “Ka-lomp, Ka-lomp, Ka-lomp…” out to the car he went. When I asked him that afternoon how everyone liked his boots, he said the other kids all thought they were cool. That night, he had some shin pain that we decided was probably due to the boot-love. They have a little heel on them, which I’m assuming most 7 year-old-boys aren’t used to. We put the boots in the closet and suggested he not wear them for a little bit to give his legs time to recover.
A month went by, and I noticed the boots in the closet one evening before bed. I asked if he was going to wear his boots again soon. He said no. Surprised, I asked why, and he responded that the other kids said they are cowGIRL boots. Uh-oh. Let me state for the record – they are NOT cowgirl boots. I appreciate a creative fashion sense, but I’m not setting my kid up for certain social rejection.
I tried to make it better: “They were just teasing you…” I said. He opened his eyes wide and said “No, they had serious faces.” Then I suggested it wasn’t everyone who thought they were cowgirl boots. This idea was rejected as well. “Everyone” told him so. But he LOVED those boots!!! I was not going to let a bunch of un-imaginative, ignorant, bully-children (or even a few teasing friends) steal my child’s creative spark!!
So, I had to just get all authoritative. I simply stated – with as much Mommies-Know-All voice as I could muster- that they are, in fact, not cowgirl boots. It’s hard to explain exactly how boots are not cowgirl boots to a boy who has probably only seen two pair of cowboy boots in his life, but I gave it my best shot.
“The stitching is brown, not pink.”
“Girl boots don’t look like snake skin.”
“They’re Durango brand, and I think they only make cowBOY boots.”
He finally capitulated a little, and decided he might wear them again. In fact, he pulled them on over his skull and crossbones footy pajamas (he found them at a thrift store… I wasn’t kidding about that flag!) and wore them to bed.
The next day, he wore the boots to school, and afterward reported that not a single person said anything about them. Success!! My son was free again to be the spirited young man he is, and hopefully he learned a little about persevering when the voices around him are not speaking the same language he hears in his head.
That night his feet hurt, so we’ve put the boots away for a little while. But I’m confident that they’ll be seen again soon.