You see, his "R-Raccoon" shirt, while albeit precious and a great color on him, is pink. I don't mean pink-that-can-pass-as-coral-or-salmon-pink, I mean HOT PINK that we wore as lipstick in 1984.
- it's a boy's shirt
- it has an adorable raccoon wearing a pirate hat with pirate hook on it and a crow on top of his hat
- it's super easy to spot my son in a crowd
- it makes us laugh
- my boy feels awesome when he wears it and there is nothing better than seeing your son smile.
- It is pink, noticeably pink and while we have decided against gender-izing colors in our home, I am very aware that the rest of the world isn't quite as liberal in their fashion thinking.
What do you think? ADORABLE. That's what I thought too :)
Well he wasn't even in the door of his classroom before kids were making fun of him, calling him a girl (WHY is that an insult??!?!!!) and being cruel (and HELLO?!?! Parents standing there..... ????? No comment..... that would be a whole different blog post...) I went home in tears and really struggled with whether or not to swoop in and save the day or let him struggle through a painful lesson at 5 years old (he'll have to figure it out eventually.... right??)
So I texted one of my dearest friends and told her what was going on. I told her I was trying not to "hover" and be the mom who never lets my kid fall and yet I could only see my boy's face, near tears as he walked into his class, crushed that what he believed to be a safe place was no longer that. He no longer had that smile on you see above and his confidence had been deflated. I don't want him to think that how you look is important, because that goes against everything we've taught him up until this point in life: what matters most is in your heart.
My friend wisely reminded me of a story in Jen Hatmaker's book Misunderstood when she had worn glasses to school for much of her young life and was being picked on, bullied and tormented by the other girls. One day her mom took her out of school to get fitted for a pair of contact glasses. Her mom never said "I just don't want anyone to make fun of you! Let's make you beautiful!" she simply protected her daughter, as our Heavenly Father does for us. Jen wrote on to say that moment in her life was one of the clearest examples of God's love through her mother. So you better believe I hopped in the car with a black and blue shirt and raced back to school.
When he walked into the school office and saw me sitting there nervously with a new shirt he was confused. Like I said, I think it's good for him to fall and learn to get back up and so I am not the mom who saves my kid from everything. I'm sure he was convinced he'd just have to get through the worst day in the history of kindergarten and that was that. He said, "Mom? Why did you bring me a new shirt?" I looked at him and had a thousand responses going through my head (i.e. "No son of mine will be made fun of." "I hate it when I see you get hurt." "I forgot there is a stain on that shirt.") and this is what I ended up saying, "Buddy, you are awesome. Awesome. And I noticed some of your friends were giving you a hard time this morning. I was worried they wouldn't be able to see just how awesome you are if they were only seeing your shirt. I hope this way you can have a great day of learning and you can help your friends learn what is really important: what's in here." and I pointed to his chest. He gave me the biggest hug and then said "Well.... this shirt is a little hot...." :) Well played sir.
We can't save our kids from everything, nor would we want to because then they'll never know how to get back up and also they will lack compassion for others in similar situations, but we can protect them and guide them appropriately. Give them the tools to fight back in love, help them learn grace (undeserved love), forgiveness and humility as well as compassion.
So good luck Momma's!! We have our work cut out for us!