My five-year-old son wears Spider-Man shoes that light up when he runs.
He also wears Angry Bird socks pulled up to his knees.
He hides a Peyton Manning jersey two sizes too small in the corner of his closet every night so that I don’t wash it and he can wear it again the next day. I’ve tried buying him other jerseys but he prefers that tight-fitting, stained and smelly one to anything else. He says it helps him run fast.
He has three different varieties of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas in orange, blue and red as to represent Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. Sorry Donatello, but purple is a girl color.
He has a Spidey hooded sweatshirt and the hood hangs down over his eyes like a Spidey mask. He stays warm while also preventing his identity from being revealed. Genius.
Years ago I met a woman who told me she never let her boys wear clothes with characters or words on them.
I think of her every time I fold the laundry.
When my son started Kindergarten this year, we had almost daily wardrobe wrangles. I’d choose a plaid button-down shirt. He’d want a Superman t-shirt with holes in it because it has a cape. I’d pick skinny jeans. He’d choose soccer shorts. I’d suggest a striped Izod shirt. He’d beg for a shirt depicting various kinds of poop at the zoo. (I’m not kidding, it’s literally a shirt with pictures of poop at the zoo.)
Some days we compromise, which generally results in a “business up top, party down below” (or vice versa) ensemble. And some days it’s just a cute little hot mess. In very bright colors.
For all of you amazing moms who somehow manage to get your boys in cardigans, berets and bow ties, I truly tip my hat to you.
Your kids look adorable. Your kids are what my MiniBoden and Crewcuts dreams are made of. Your kids are the kids in the posters in the windows at the mall.
My kids are the kids in capes running around in those windows.
Sometimes I look at my darling little ragamuffin at the bus stop and I can’t help but cringe.
And then I pray that it’s not picture day or assembly day or a day in which the national news just might be spotlighting our school.
But then I smile.
And remind myself that he’s five years old.
There’s only so long in a life that you can get away with wearing a mask or a cape or shoes that light up when you run. And there’s only so long that in a life that you want to wear a mask or a cape or shoes that light up when you run.
So I say, let him be five.
Let him be a superhero every day. Let him think he looks like the coolest kid on the block. Let him make some little choices about his life, the kind of choices that really don’t matter at the end of the day.
Because soon enough he won’t want to look like a superhero anymore. Soon enough he’ll exchange his role models for ones that aren’t so super and aren’t so heroic. Soon enough he’ll just want to fit in and wear what everyone else wears and do what everyone else does. And soon enough he’ll have to make some big choices about his life, the kind of choices that do matter at the end of the day. So he better start getting some practice.
Of all the battles with my kids, this is one in which I sometimes just have to wave the white flag. Honestly, I’d rather he eat the carrots than wear the button-down.
So if you ever wonder what kind of mother would let her kid out of the house in soccer shorts and a dirty jersey, with shoes that light up, a cape flying behind him and a mask over his eyes, I’ll tell you.
It’s a superhero’s mom.
I only wish I were brave enough to wear the shoes.