At Montessori school children ages 3 to 6 are put together in one room. Since they are, the little kids really look up to the big kids. Over the last two years Jay has been especially enthralled with the "big kids" and I could see his little mind working as he wanted to wear certain shorts and shoes because they were like the "big kids" wear. Each time he would do this I would tell him, "You don't always have to be looking to others for what to wear or do...Just be you. Wear it because YOU want to, not because they wear it." Of course all I would get back was a blank stare with, "This IS what I want to wear."
This morning he decided that he wanted to wear a pair of Betsy's socks to school. They were teal with big yellow polka dots...and this time it was me worrying about him "fitting in". I said, "Are you sure you want to wear those socks? Do you think your friends will say they are GIRL socks?" He confidently shrugged his shoulders in a 'no big deal' kind of way and said, "No. It doesn't matter what they say." I guess he's the "big kid" now.
This all made me think. We want our children to march to the beat of their own drum, but when it comes right down to it, we are also a little afraid of what might transpire if they are TOO different. So much so that we want to protect them from getting their feelings hurt.
I have been cultivating this confidence of "just be you"...but it took everything in me not to send him with a change of socks for "just in case".