I was getting Truett ready for school this morning and instead of his usual manly Doraemon mozzie patch, I took out a wrong one and gave him Kirsten’s Hello Kitty version instead. He requested to swap it, but since I had already peeled off the adhesive (and they were also already fashionably late for school), I brushed it off as one of those bizarre quirks that kids have from time to time.
He was quite insistent and was all like, “Mom, I need the blue patch. This one is for girls and my friends will call me a girl.”
I didn’t think peer pressure would be an issue at this age and come on, are kids childish enough to pick on a tiny Hello Kitty mozzie patch? That’s like the kind of lame comment one swats off like an annoying fly. I mean, it’s not like I was making him wear a frilly pink tutu with sequins.
But he seemed genuinely troubled.
I thought this would be a good time to teach my boy to deal with others poking fun at him or not agreeing with his choices, but that’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re five, even harder when you’re 31.
In any case, I’m way too old to do the angsty rant about not giving a rat’s ass about what anyone else thinks. Because I do. It’s nice to be agreed with. It’s nice to be regarded as smart and discerning. It’s nice to be liked. By everyone. Including that weird dude who mumbles to himself in the elevator. So I get that my five-year-old wants to fit in and be liked by his peers.
Over the years though, I’ve come to realize that while it’s all well and good to want people to like me, there’s only so much I can do to make that happen. At some point, I have to be ok with the fact that people are not going to agree with all the choices that I make in life. They’ll think that what I believe in is stupid or that my principles are sanctimonious or that my preferences are outrageous. Even at 31, this doesn’t get any less sucky when it happens, but we learn to deal because sometimes, certain things are just more important than others.
So I looked at Truett and told him that I knew how awful it feels when his friends laugh at him but was ok to be different (and also to tell me the names of every single one who did it. Ok, I’m kidding. Sort of.) And if he really wanted to go with the manly Doraemon patch, do it because that’s what he really wanted, not because he was afraid of what others would think.
In the end, he went with manly patch but when we got into the car, he told me that I could keep the Hello Kitty one on him as well, as long as I hid it inside his back pocket.
Baby steps. I guess we’re all learning.