Zeke's absolute most prized possession more than any thing else he owns is his red purse with white polka dots and a chain strap. He wears it around the house. He keeps special objects in there: star bracelet, silly bands, beer bottle caps he collected from mommy and daddy, beaded necklaces and some Chuck E. Cheese tokens. He's devastated when he can't find it or worse when his three year old brother finds it. He loves his purse. When he gets other little prized possessions he gets all giddy and exclaims, "I'll keep these in my purse!". His purse sits on top of their toy shelf in their room right next to his star wars tie fighter jet set. Sigh. I adore my kids. I'm proud that my eight year old isn't ashamed of his purse nor is he beginning to think maybe he shouldn't have a purse but I confess something to you today....
Today my Zeke will have his first school friend over for a visit after class. We've had lots of the kids' friends over to the house. The boys' bedroom is filled with neighborhood friends every week and occasionally some church friends. None of our neighbor or church friends attend the same school as Zeke though. I've never thought much about Zeke's purse or Tai's ladybug pillow pet or their littlest pet shop(pink and purple) toy set or any of their other "not so boy like" stuff. That's who we are. If our boys prefer to play with something that's been deemed by society or department stores as "girlie" we hope and pray we're raising them to be confident that toys don't actually have penises or vaginas. Neither do shoes or coats or T-shirts. Colors don't have body parts therefore they cannot be girl colors or boy colors. But today I found myself sort of hyperventilating with thoughts of "what if his friend who I know for a fact because I've been to his house, only owns very very "BOY" stuff comes over, takes one look at Zeke's polka dot purse and goes on to tell all Zeke's friends that Zeke likes girl stuff and Zeke gets teased and treated differently for the rest of the year and they stop playing tether ball with him?" Whew. The things parents think!!! Right?
The thought was fleeting and just as quick as I considered hiding the purse for his play date, I came back around to rational thinking and remembered that I don't believe in "protecting" my kids in that way. Protecting them from themselves. Protecting them from life. If bullies are bullies, I can't do anything about that. I can continue to be me. I can continue to allow and encourage my boys to be themselves. I can't help what other kids do AND I really don't have ANY right to assume this sweet boy coming over today will actually think anything negative at all about Zeke's purse. That's me judging his parents without even really knowing them. How's that for a confession?
My son will have his first school play date today and I'll take a deep breath and deal with whatever will come. I'm sure they'll blast Justin Beiber, have light saber fights, build lego sets and sort through Zeke's purse collection in perfect harmony. If not, IF he gets teased, I'll deal with that as it comes but I am NOT hiding who we are to protect my son from teasing. I'm sorry I considered it. I won't consider it again. I promise. Or at least I'll try. Being a parent is hard. Fighting that instinct to protect our little ones is tough business. He'll be better for it though and so will I.