The Costume Party of Life

sneakersWhen nine-year old Peach’s eyes lit up at the sight of these sneakers, I couldn’t share her enthusiasm.  In fact, I was repulsed and had to bite my tongue to avoid hurting her feelings.  What will people think?  Should I let her buy the sneakers and risk being teased?

I fretted over the decision while texting husband for support, and tried, unsuccessfully, to convince her to want a more socially acceptable pair of school shoes.  It was comical, really.  Me thinking that I could influence her taste because I wanted it to be in line with my own.

Eventually I came to my more evolved senses and stood by the ‘live and let live’ philosophy I claim to subscribe to. I do believe in, and have preached to my children, tolerance for the differences of others.  Clothes, hair, and jewelry  are all harmless forms of self-expression that each is entitled to.  We can’t take these things too seriously.  They’re part of the costume party of life.

One could say that the costume party extends well beyond appearance.   We cloak ourselves in images – good girl, leader, hero, bad-ass, geek, bookworm.  Whether intentionally or subconsciously, we pick out words, deeds and attitudes that suit our unique style and earn us labels.

I warned Peach about labels and the potential fallout from her choice, before allowing her to purchase the sneakers.  She resolved that ‘If anyone makes fun of me, I know it’s their own fear talking.  I’m not going to be bothered by someone else’s fear.  You taught me that, Mom.’

Did I?  Bravo.  Remind me to practice that one myself.

Recently I became privy to a conversation between two close relatives on the subject of Peach’s sneakers.  “What was Deb thinking?” they wondered.   “ Yes, children have individual styles, but they need guidance.  That’s a mother’s job.”

What this person really meant was, a mother should mold her children into a limited scope of acceptable, squeezing them into the one-size-fits-none gender biases.  Determined to be as fearless as Peach, I defended her decision and mine with the conviction of the greatest of feminists.  I contend that it’s not a mother’s job to feed into the insecurities of others just to make them comfortable.

This Halloween, Peach pretended to be Coco Chanel – signature black dress (with pants underneath, of course), pearls, hat and yes, the ‘boy’ sneakers.  She educated us on Coco – the gutsy, progressive, designer with male-inspired style.  We marveled over the Coco Chanel story, laid out in an inspiring video montage.  After watching it, Peach declared, “Mom, someday you’ll read about ME in chapters, just like Coco Chanel.”

Yes, Peach, I bet I will.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Sacha
    Nov 02, 2013 @ 23:57:00

    I want to live at your house.


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