"Untuck your shirt, it looks silly that way."
"No, I want it like this."
"You don't have a belt to wear with it. It would really look better untucked."
"The ladies like it better tucked."
"The ladies?! Just untuck it, I don't like it like that."
"Well, you don't have to like it."
Traditional parenting would see this conversation with my 7 year old as back talk. My most natural instinct would have been to demand my way, and remind him that I'm the parent. But what would that have accomplished?
I really did not like that shirt tucked in. I was afraid people would think I asked him to do that, and chose for him to look a way that I viewed as less than trendy.
It's almost as if I was clinging to the belief that our children are a direct reflection of us. And I'd agree that statement is true. But let me expand on that idea a bit. If my son is a direct reflection of me, what do I want him to reflect?
I remember seeing a mom in the grocery store, with her kids. One had on a super hero costume. Another had their pajamas. And the mom was dressed in what I could tell was chosen by both her kids together. And my first thought wasn't 'oh my, how could she let them go in public like that?!' But rather of amazement that she was able to put down her pride.
I observed her on the isles we happened to be together on.
"I need my super hero to grab that box of cereal as fast as she can!"
"I would love my sleepy head to find the can of green beans."
I wonder if this was the mom's idea. Or was it because the youngest refused to put on "real" clothes?
Regardless, I realized something. Too often, we expect our kids to be just like us. And ya know what? Most of us are pretty boring. What if, instead, we became more like them?
What if, we allowed our children to be themselves?
My son wore his shirt tucked in that day. And he's right, the 'ladies' did like it. I was sent a video of my little guy dancing at recess. Shirt tucked in, big boy manners, kindly two stepping with the girls.
Although he may not reflect my clothing style, I'm pleased with what is reflected - kindness, compassion, and love.