“Are you comfortable like that? Or do you want to change it?”
From the beginning, he always said he was comfortable; he didn’t want to change.
A few months ago, I wrote about how Captain Bravo would surprise me by sneaking away to get dressed in the clothes I laid out every morning. As so often happens on those first attempts at independence, he would often put his shirt on backwards.
I am his mom/first teacher/co-pilot, so I felt it was my responsibility to point out that it was backwards – but he was unconcerned.
So most of the time, we left it that way. Even if we left the house.
Over the past few months, his backwards shirts have become less a choice of convenience and more of a personal expression. If you visit me here or on social media, no doubt you have seen photos of Captain Bravo’s backwards days. We have many. In fact, I would venture to say that they are frequent. So much so that family and friends now think nothing of seeing him in backwards clothes.
I still point it out as he gets dressed.
“That’s backwards, you know. See the tag?”
“But Mom, I love it backwards.”
Who am I to argue?
Didn’t I scour the hair colour boxes at the pharmacy, searching for that perfect red – cherry, not auburn? Didn’t I search the racks for the shiniest, most-shoulder-sweeping earrings I could find? Wasn’t it me that tied the tongues of my Converse sneakers down and wore neon and clinking bracelets up to my elbow?
Check, check and check. I did.
My clothes were not worn that way, but wasn’t I backwards-by-choice sometimes? Aren’t I still?
The other day, I overheard Captain Alpha talking to Bravo as he got dressed.
“It looks kind of silly that way. I’ll help you,” Alpha told him.
Shortly after, Bravo came bounding out of the bedroom sporting his forward-facing shirt.
I wondered if this would be the beginning of the end of Backwards Days. A word from big brother is so very influential. Captain Alpha is cool, and a worldly know-er of many things. Would his opinion discourage Captain Bravo’s backwards phase?
I got my answer the next day. We decided on his clothes and he began to get dressed. His head appeared through the opening in his shirt and he looked at me.
“Do I have it on backwards?”
He pulled the shirt away from his neck and saw the writing on the fabric at the same time that I did.
He smiled as he put his arms through the arm holes and smoothed it down.
“I love it backwards, Mom.”
Backwards Days have lasted longer than I thought they would. Even when they go, I hope the spirit of them lives on. I wish for a sureness and a confidence in himself to express who he is.
I want him to feel comfortable, so that he doesn’t want to change.
And for now at least, we will go forward – being backwards.
How do you your children express themselves? How do *you*?