Towards the end of October, over my birthday weekend we went as a family to the annual arts fest down the street from us. It’s the second year in a row that’s been a bit wet and chilly, but we ventured out between the rain. Early in the shopping we came to a booth with jewelry. And as most know, I love jewelry and am always pulled in the direction of something shiny! So we stopped and looked. Right away I found a beautiful beaded necklace that I loved. I had birthday money in my pocket from my parents and was carefully mulling over whether this was what I wanted to spend it on. Brenden walked up and said, “Mom, I think I know what I want to ask for.” No. We hadn’t actually said we were buying the kids anything. Never the less I asked him what it was. And he shyly told me it was the very necklace I had my eye on.
I had to think very carefully about how to react. This was unmistakably a woman’s necklace. Just no denying it. But I’ve made a very big deal to teach the kids that in our family we believe all things can be enjoyed by all people. Obviously, I mean all legal, moral things. Settle down. There are no boy/girl toys. No boy/girl colors. No boy/girl jobs. This is important to me and I am proud they both feel confident about this fact. But the teasing. The teasing that would come when he inevitably asked to wear this beautiful necklace to school. I couldn’t put him through that. I know that I cannot protect him from everything. That he will be teased. That it will hurt, but it will make him stronger. But he’s already such an obvious target. Kids seem mostly to still be pretty nice and protective at this age, but I can’t imagine there are many years of that left. And Brenden is wonderful, but he’s far more adult than kid. He likes talking to adults. He has adults concerns. He uses big words.He’s sensitive. And obviously, though we haven’t encountered it more than a few times, he’s got the hand to be teased about. And his tender heart. I know he’ll end up proving me wrong a million times about what he’ll be able to handle. But I didn’t want him to have to handle that.
So in the best way I could I try to discover why he wanted the necklace. It turned out, he thought it looked very powerful. I think this was some combination of too much Sophia the First and other characters. So I told him that I just didn’t think this was the powerful necklace for him. And though I said nothing about gender he immediately brought up that there is no such thing as a boy necklace or a girl necklace. And I had to agree. And I questioned my judgment. But still, I coaxed him to believe that we would find the perfect necklace for him. I’ll also add, it was a bit more money than I’d normally spend on a child’s necklace, but that wasn’t my main thought process, though I did use that fact to my advantage. Eventually, we found a very suitable, very inexpensive, very cool ring that he decided was the perfect power source. But I could see it on his face he was still mourning the loss of the potential of that necklace. And those it’s over a month later, I still wonder if I did the right thing. And he hasn’t worn that ring since the day we bought it. I wonder if the necklace would have met the same fate.