I bought John some new socks the other day. He pulled them on and carefully rolled them down until they were just above his ankles. Reader: that looked ridiculous. Specifically, it looked like he was wearing some version of those little fold-down lacy socks that girls wear to church with patent leather shoes. (Not in Vermont, obviously. In other places.)
But instead of just saying, “John, that looks ridiculous,” I commenced over thinking:
John should be able to wear his socks however he wants to, even if it’s ridiculous.
If I tell him those look like girl socks, I’m implying that girlie is a bad thing.
If I tell him those look like little girl socks, I’m being sexist.
Crap. Am I raising a boy who won’t respect women?
But, on the other hand, he’s been much more attuned lately to what other people are wearing and thinking.
If I send him out into the world in ridiculous girlie socks, am I setting him up to be embarrassed?
Shouldn’t he at least have fair warning?
Am I increasing his concern about what other people think by telling him what I think?
Honestly, all of the above–and more–took place in about three seconds in my head. Out loud, I finally said, “John, when you roll them like that they sort of look like socks that girls would be more likely to wear than boys.” No judgement! Just an observation! I’m not trying to perpetuate gender stereotypes! Oh my god, I’m perpetuating gender stereotypes.
John instantly replied, “Really, Mom, they look more like socks that elves would wear.” Then he went out to play.
I worry too much.
OMG I love that boy! And I love the dialogue you had in your head before making your observation to John. I’d love to be around in 10 years when he’s reading this journal. I hope he laughs…and maybe even remembers the moment.