Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wear your pink wig.

     My three kids are very small. Small enough that our lessons are still one way: I teach them things, and they absorb them like little sponges. It's occurred to me that one day, these lessons will start to go the other way, that I will also learn from them. I figured it would be through what they get at school, like the diameter of Jupiter or something. I figured these lessons would be academic.
      I'm not the kind of person who goes looking for lessons babies can teach. Yes, they cry it out and get over it; yes, they prioritize play. Yes, their bodies and minds are flexible. Yes, they have fewer prejudices. But they also have nothing else to do all day, and minimal life experience.  It's obvious.  That said, there are the moments when I look at one of my small children and think, I could take a page from that book.  And I do, for a while, and then I forget that I had.
     I don't know by what standards I'm a snappy dresser, but by any standard, I'm a flashy one.  I dress to stand out, with bright colors and funky shoes.  Now that I'm a mother, turning heads seems like one-of-those-things-you-shouldn't-do.  Women get to a certain age, and it seems, are supposed to become autumnal.  Neutrals only, please.
     My daughter hasn't learned this lesson yet; of course not; she's 5.  She wears whatever the hell she wants, and people think it's adorable.  Pants with skirts, mismatched prints, two different shoes...you name it, she's done it.  It doesn't even occur to her she shouldn't.  And every time she does (which is nearly every day) I have one of those moments, those I-could-learn-from-this moments. 
     Until this one time.  She's been begging for a pink wig and the last time we were out shopping, what do you know.  She wore it all the way home (and proceeded to tell me proudly she was finally a blonde).  Anyway, the day of ballet class came, and the pink wig emerged.  I was surprised she wanted to wear it, but hey, in her eyes it's the most glamorous thing she owns.  So on it went.
     That wig - which makes her hot and itchy most of the time - did not come off the whole class.  She fussed with it a few times, and otherwise, treated it like any other permanent body part.  I overheard girls by the studio window telling their moms, "Look!  That girl has pink hair!"  "Cool!" said the moms, and kept on walking.  No one thought she was a nut and, if they had, she wouldn't have noticed.  She was too busy being glamorous. 
     I know there are boundaries.  I know that we have impressions to make.  I know that sometimes we have to act our age.  But most of the time, we don't.  This was one time my girl taught me a lesson and it stuck.  I have a pink wig too - it's in the Halloween bin.  But it's the metaphor that matters.  My pink wig might be my knee-high sneakers.  It might be my big eye makeup.  It might be my saucy attitude.  Not every day; she knows that much.  Some days are right for the pink wig.
Wear your pink wig.  Sometimes.  As long as it's not never.