I tried to talk him out of it. Not because I didn’t want him to have it. Not because I wouldn’t be proud of him wearing it. Only because the world can be stereotypically biased and cruel sometimes.
My mama bear instinct just wanted to keep him safe. Shelter him from hurt and ridicule. That is what we do as mama bears. Protect and shield as much as we can and then send them off out into the world hoping they are strong enough. Wishing them as few bangs, nicks, and bruises as possible, hoping they can stay whole and happy.
My son wore the above shirt today. The shirt he carefully hand-picked at Old Navy because I told each child they could pick one since they were on sale. The shirt he jumped and hollered about so excited because not only did it have his favorite character of all time on it, but it was also his two favorite colors: pink and purple.
This shirt has been worn many times, but to be honest sometimes it sits in the wash pile a little too long. It may also be hung in the closet a bit too out of reach for my son’s small arms. All to protect. All out of concern. All out of my need to shield him just a little longer. I have written about this shirt before and the comments we receive when we are out in public.
Now that he has started school, I knew he would want to wear THE SHIRT. Last night I hung it carefully in his closet within his reach knowing full well it would be the first choice for him in the morning.
In the morning as I bustled about the kitchen, I heard his joyful feet bounding down the stairs. He leapt into the kitchen proudly boasting his Sofia shirt and that he had dressed himself. I steeled my heart for him and what the day ahead might hold; all because of a shirt.
I spent my morning in silent prayer. As I busied myself with the tasks at hand, a constant repeated prayer kept running through the back of my brain:
Please God let the world be kind to my sweet boy today. His soul is pure and full of light. Please let the world be kind to my four-year old who understands more about forgiveness than his thirty-six-year-old mom. Please, oh please, oh please.
Dropping him off at school he skipped his way to the entrance, so jubilantly thrilled to show off his most prized possession, hoping his friends would love it as much as he does.
As he proudly displayed his shirt to one of his teachers upon entry, she looked at him, his twin then me and said,”Well at least we will be able to tell them apart today” just a tad bit too full of judgement. I saw his shoulders sink a little as he heard it, too.
My heart broke a little more for him today. He arrived home and excitedly rattled through a string of wonderful things about his day, there was nothing and I thought for a moment we were safe just awhile longer. About fifteen minutes later, he found me sitting alone and said,
“Mommy when I was sitting next to Eliza* today she said, ‘why are you wearing a Sofia shirt?'”
He went on to explain that he had told her how excited he had been when he bought it and how he got to pick out as a special treat. He said he thinks she thought it was supposed to be just a girl thing and that he didn’t like the way she asked him why he was wearing it. I reassured him that his Sofia shirt was a great shirt and that he needed to always wear just what he wanted. He said that he would, but it was the disappointment in his little voice that broke my heart.
My hope is that he continues to wear what he wants and do what he wants no matter what his peers think or say, but I know that today changed him a tiny bit. He was disappointed that the world didn’t love that shirt on him as much as he loved that shirt on him. These events are bound to happen in varying shades throughout his life; that is part of life; but the mama bear; my mama heart, wishes I could shield him a little more; take the brunt of it myself. That is what all of us mamas wish for. We hope that the world is kind to our babies and that they can be their shining selves without facing ridicule. Unfortunate that, that isn’t always the case.
I want to take a moment though and thank those of you who saw my Facebook post and prayed and well-wished with me today.Thank you all of you kindness warrior mamas who help make this world a better place and with me become the village of support for my kids. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Watching my littles grow and learn,
*Names were changed to protect the identity of children.