Friday, November 1, 2013

A sheep in wolf's clothing

The boy who was the big, bad wolf for Halloween is so big. That's what every one of my colleagues who saw him said yesterday during the annual costume parade through the building. "HOW old is he?" He's just three, I'd say. He's just huge. Then he'd tug on my arm and say, but I'm free-and-a-half!

A lot of the boys in his class were dressed as superheroes yesterday, all foam muscles and toy swords and hammers and leaping and crushing. This boy was a little unnerved by all his boy friends at once going to the most masculine parts of their foam-muscle-clad psyches. This boy, maybe because he has two big sisters, maybe because he just isn't a tough guy, maybe because he hasn't found that part of himself but will one day...this boy doesn't get much more masculine than a plush wolf. He'll huff and he'll puff but then he'll allow that you can fluff his furry tummy.

He's a tender heart, this one. And so I say that to him: "you're a sweetheart, you know?"

He's finding his way through some gender identifying, though. Recently he tried out that he couldn't wear a certain button-down shirt I'd selected for him because pink is for girls.

"No, it's not," I said, and proceeded to get him dressed. He happens to look good in pink. Yes, it is! he insisted, as I ignored him and proceeded to close his buttons. "You can tell me you don't want to wear this shirt because it's too big or too small or too scratchy or too hot. You can even tell me that you don't want to wear it because you don't like it. But you can't tell me that you can't wear it because 'pink is for girls' because that's not true. Pink is for everyone," I concluded, turning down his collar.

He looked at me dubiously, ready to protest further, when his daddy came downstairs wearing a charcoal pinstripe suit and a pink shirt. Okay, he said, and skipped away.

[Never you mind that I buy his daddy's 16.5/35 pink shirts just like I buy his 5T pink shirts.]

So he's finding his way through identity, as we all must do, and he paraded so happily yesterday, a walking stuffed animal instead of a comic book hero, but the affectionate "sweetheart" was more than he could take in that moment.

Mommy! he whined. And then he stomped it again. MOMMY! Don't call me that!

I saw his sincerity so I responded seriously. "I'm sorry, love. If 'sweetheart' is no good, do you have any good ideas for another word?"

You can call me... 

He pondered.

You can call me sweetsquare.

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