One thing that’s so awesome about kids is their individualism. Their ability and want to be themselves in a world where adults and teenagers are told to conform and follow the rules of society. I do think I try to help them nourish their indivisualism by listening to their wants, but it isn’t always easy.
Yesterday we went to buy new sneakers for Sophia. We went straight to the section for girls, picked up some cute pink and purple ones, and she just stands there shaking her head, clearly not impressed. Then I remember: she doesn’t like pink anymore.
‘Which colour do you want then, Sophia?’ I ask encouragingly and she looks back at me with a shrug, ‘ Green or Blue, but I can’t see any.’ And she’s right, nowhere on the rack do they have any other colours than various pinks and sparkles and other pretty shoes. By now we all know that shows don’t carry a big variety, this is not a complaint, (although I do wish there were more varied colour choices for kids) it’s just a bit disheartening when she wants green, and there’s none!
I tell her to move to the next one, where the boy shoes are. We find some blue ones and green ones and obviously she goes: ‘but they’re boy shoes?’ The quick thinking in my head to find the right words and I give it a go: ‘Do you know what they are? They are green shoes. They have been made in the same factory, came here in the same truck, and were put on the rack by the same people. That’s all. The only difference is that they are hanging on this rack. And they’re not pink.’ Nailed it. She tries on the shoes, runs around half the store to see if they are good for running, and she tells me she wants them.
I try to teach them tolerance and openness to the world. I try to show them that just because one person says something is a rule, it doesn’t make it right. We’ve looked at pictures and YouTube clips of guys wearing makeup, girls wearing ‘boy clothes’ and guys dressing up in dresses. I don’t want them to conform to the standards the world is setting, unless it is what they want for themselves, and if they want to wear a tutu, jeans and gumboots all in the same outfit, I say go for it. I see lots of mums who ‘dress up’ their kids and make them into their own little dolls, and although many of them might enjoy it, I bet some wishes they could wear just trackies and boots and jump in the mud. What you wear is never who you are.
We are not raising ‘pretty girls’ – We are raising them to be who they are – green shoes, pink shoes or no shoes at all.