I know that is the exact opposite of what we have all been programmed to believe, but hear me out.
My youngest and I had a 20 minute battle this morning over socks. Really. Now, I know I have slacked off in the sock purchasing department, and he has mostly outgrown his with his big boy feet. Nothing critical, I just need to get to it. So I hand him a pair of socks, the kind that only goes up ankle high, which I know he doesn’t mind because that’s the height of ALL of his socks. Apparently where went horribly wrong is that they weren’t white socks.
He did not want to go to school in black socks, with a gray toe and heel because someone might, in an unusual and unlikely event that his shoes come flying off, make fun of him at school because they look like girl socks. Now, I am one of those people that just doesn’t care what other people think. I wear the craziest socks on purpose, because I like them. And if someone else doesn’t, I don’t care. Their opinion doesn’t even blip on my radar of give a d**mn. So you can imagine my confusion that this is an issue. I finally got tired of arguing and sent him to school with bare feet in his shoes, because he wasn’t going to be happy with any of his choices. You know what? I was angry too. Angry that my vibrant little guy was cowing to a fear that someone might not like his socks. Angry that he felt defeated enough to not want to stand out.
The focus on self esteem in children is unreasonable. It sounds good, almost like a fairy tale. Every one sits together all hunk dory happy in equal everything, then no one can feel bad, right?
I think the focus on self esteem makes putting on a colorful pair of socks an excruciating decision for a 10 year old boy. This is going to sound horrible, but here it is; Not everyone should feel good all the time. You can’t do it. Its not possible. Putting the expectation that there is some point in the future of our lives where we are all going to grow up to be happy, well adjusted adults because we had the right clothes, hair, education or toys, because that’s what everyone else has is damaging. Its damaging to the heart and creative soul of a child, and it ruins them as an adult, so they fall into the checkout line behind the rest of the ‘self esteem needy’, buying crap they don’t need and cant afford to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. It programs them at a young age to agree with commercial corporate programming that, if we all look the same, act the same, talk and walk the same, and educate the same, then we will all be happy in our cookie cutter sameness.
I don’t teach my kids self esteem. I teach them to be happy with themselves, and rejoice in their individuality. To be proud of their unique thoughts and perspectives on life. To strive to keep a tight hold on who they are and what they believe, and not to lose themselves inside of anyone else, or anything else.
My kids are the crazy socks of the world. They are the round pegs that don’t quite fit in the square holes of life. I wouldn’t change them for anything,
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go throw away all the white socks.