Encounters that usually take place prior to stepping out into the public arena
Encounters that I too had on many occasions with my parents
This particular encounter occurred on a non-descript Shabbat/Sabbath morning before shul/synagogue. We were at home. Getting dressed. Wearing our smart, presentable, 'Sunday best'.
Okay, I was dressed in my Sunday best. The struggle was getting him to understand that when going out in public, especially to the synagogue for Sabbath prayer services, one should dress appropriately. He should dress like me. Black pants. Long sleeved shirt.
When people use the word 'appropriately', it sometimes means 'not naked' but it (actually) usually means 'like everyone else'
In this situation it refers to the latter
My son insisted on wearing short pants that resembled swimming trunks. Long Spiderman socks, pulled up to his knees. A T-shirt that did not even match itself. And, his high heels
He loves his high heels
They are a pair of smart, boy's black shoes with a typical heel at the back. He calls them his 'boy's high heels'
And the encounter went something like this
Daddy: You can't wear that. It looks ridiculous
Caleb: I love these clothes. I love these shoes
Daddy: But you can't leave the house looking like that
Caleb: It looks cool. I like it
That went on for a while. I eventually gave up, realising that giving my kids a healthy breakfast was more important than having a fight over what Caleb was wearing
We went to the synagogue. Caleb wore HIS version of 'Sunday best'. And I sat in the synagogue, watching him, feeling slightly embarrassed.
I replayed the 'encounter', over and over, in my mind. And then I got into an internal debate
- He is fully clothed. 'Appropriate' for prayer services.
- But he looks ridiculous.
- But he looks extremely cute too
- But what bout the 'encounter' we had before leaving home?
- I really did not want him to go out looking like that
- But this is what he wanted to wear
- These were clothes that he liked
- This was how he wanted to express himself
My biggest concern before leaving the house, and while sitting in the synagogue, was:
WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ME?
I was not thinking: 'What will people think about him'
My concern was that people would think that I did not know how to dress my kids 'appropriately'. My concern was that people will judge me. My concern was that people will accuse me of being an inadequate parent. My fear was that my EGO would come under attack
And I recalled the same fears my parents had - every time I left the house with my favourite ripped jeans, or worn-out shoes.
It took me a while, but I started to realise that I should not confuse my ego with childrens' desire to express themselves
My kids dress 'appropriately'. I do not need to fight/argue with my kids when all they want to do is express themselves, albeit through an offensive dress sense.
THESE types of parent-child 'encounters' are not worth the fight
These types of arguements only serve limits my childrens' self-expression. I do not want to limit their creativity to my ego-based fears of other parents' criticism
My ego can handle a pair of boy's high heels