Last week a notice came home that my son's first grade was going to celebrate the 50th day of school by visiting the 1950s. There would be a showing of I Love Lucy, a play put on by the second graders, a sock hop and all the first graders were asked to dress in 50s attire. My son was so excited and asked if I could buy him a leather jacket.
"uh, no - they're pretty expensive for a one-day event. Besides, it says dressing up is optional."
Knowing that I was a teacher, he asked, "how often do you get to dress up in a costume for school?"
"pretty much never."
"Exactly! Adults don't dress up, so I have to do it all the time while I'm still a kid."
How could I argue with that logic. We went to the resale shop Savers hoping I could find an unsold 50s halloween costume. After scouring the whole store, we came up empty. I told him there wasn't anything we could do, but I'd look for a plain white T-shirt when we got home. Just as we were about to leave, my daughter shouted, "WAIT! LOOK!" And there it was, sitting by itself - a real leather jacket sized 5/6. It fit him like a glove. It said Orange County Choppers on it, but we didn't care. Just one look at his sparkling eyes and I was sold. We also found a pair of black shoes and he had a complete look for under $20.
The next morning he woke up at 6am and was dressed in two minutes. We slicked back his hair and he spent the next hour looking up YouTube videos on 50s dance moves. At one point I found him doing the twist with the dog.
At the end of the school day, he came off the bus, but didn't look as excited as usual.
"What's up? How was 50s day?"
"It was great. We had so many things to do, I loved it."
"Then what's with the sad face?"
"Well, not any of the boys in my class dressed up, but all of the girls did."
I knew that wasn't the end of it, but I left it alone and later while we were sitting and doing homework, he continued the conversation.
"Hey mom, what's gay?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, some of the older boys on the bus were teasing me for dressing up and kept asking if I was gay."
I went through a whole textbook explanation and let him know we all have choices, some people don't accept anyone who's different than they are, we need to keep an open mind, etc. I performed a full ten minute monologue. He finally stopped me and said, "yeah, I get what gay is. I guess I don't understand why they used that word to try to be mean to me. I think it would have been way worse if they would have just called me stupid."
I couldn't help but laugh. He didn't understand what was funny, and I had no idea how to fully explain that his six year old mind was far more advanced than most adults I know. So I asked him if it bothered him.
"Uh, not really. I just didn't get it."
"Well, did you have fun being the only one dressed up, or did you feel different."
"Oh I felt different alright, but different awesome. All the girls were fighting about who got to be my partner and we were dancing and swinging around the whole gym."
I swear, just when I think I have life all figured out, my six year old goes and teaches me something else. So no matter what your position is in life, and no matter what you believe, I hope you have the strength today to go out there and be different awesome.
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