While standing in line for a ride at Legoland last week, I saw something rather interesting. A little boy, five or six years old, was dressed in a nice sweater, jeans and … a rainbow colored tutu!
His mother, unassuming in a sweater and jeans herself, smiled and chatted with her son as though nothing was amiss. Several folks in line snickered and pointed. One snuck out their camera phone and snapped a pic. As we boarded the ride, I couldn’t help but wonder how their conversation had gone that morning. Had the little boy insisted on the tutu and the mother sighed, thrown her hands in the air and said, “Well, what the heck. Why not?” And if that was the case, what was this little boy doing with a tutu in his wardrobe in the first place? Did he have older sisters who did ballet? Or, could the mother have possibly encouraged the wardrobe choice herself?
I saw the little tutu boy throughout the day as we worked our way through the theme park (well, he was hard to miss, with those neon pink stripes!) and I couldn’t help but think about him all the way home. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so bothered. After all, my boys aren’t asking to dress up in tutus. Why should I care how someone else dresses their child? I guess what remained troubling is not so much an issue of gender confusion but of pure embarrassment. Why set your child up for ridicule?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I clearly remember my younger brother clomping around the house in my plastic pink high heels, and he turned out just fine. And my own children had their own, er, wardrobe malfunctions. My son insisted on wearing the same shirt five days in a row in kindergarten. And my daughter stripped out of her clothes on a daily basis when she was three, leaving my neighbors scratching their heads and most likely wondering if she owned any clothes. And when she finally decided she liked staying dressed, her choice of outfits were, well, not exactly matching. I finally gave up giving lengthy explanations to the teachers about her dressing herself and just flashed them a knowing smile instead. And eventually, she wised up and now has become a bit of a shopaholic!
So, where do we draw the line when it comes to our kids’ choice of clothing? Should we save them from potential embarrassment if they make a poor choice? And in the case of the tutu-wearing boy, do you commend his mother for letting him strut around in a glaringly awkward outfit, or do you think she should have set her foot down and said “no”?