Today my little Monkey came downstairs and informed us that he wanted to dress “fancy” so could I please help him put on his bow tie and find his vest. He had already wet down his wavy hair so that it was plastered to his head and was in the process of doing up his black dress shirt which he had paired with blue jeans.
Being the good mum that I am, I helped him get all ready, complimenting him on his choice of beige and brown socks with monkeys embroidered on them to complete his ensemble. I got him bundled up and out the door with his brother who never veers from Old Navy track pants and comfy cotton t-shirts (preferably with a video game characters on them). Then I sat down with my cup of tea and had a bit of a revelation.
When my Monkey came along, I had already been a mum for over 3 years. Mini Me had long ago introduced me to the joys of sleepless nights, first smiles, teething, and play dates. I was an old pro and Monkey was a happy, easy baby by all accounts. I thought I had this parenting thing nailed.
And then a funny thing started to happen. Monkey started to develop a Personality. The capital P is there for a reason, trust me. He was a performer from an early age and loved to make people laugh. He had an uncanny ability to remember dialogue from shows or movies and would act out scenes. I remember I had to warn his junior kindergarten teacher about his love of quoting Sponge Bob complete with a pretty uncanny imitation of his annoying voice and laugh.
For well over a year he insisted on dressing thematically. Green shirt, green socks and brown pants meant he was the Hulk that day and he would stomp around growling and flexing his muscles. My personal favourite was when he wanted to dress like Mars and I went shopping for red pants so that he could represent the red planet from head to toe.
While other boys were taking soccer and hockey, he insisted that he would do sports camp and dance camp and art camp because he loved them all. And somehow he managed to charm the soccer camp counsellor into putting on the boom box at the end of the day and letting all the kids bust a move while they wait for their parents to arrive.
What I realize when I look at this awesome little 7 year old is that he has managed to teach me to be a better person and certainly a better parent. He has taught me to go with the flow. To let go of some control and not worry about the little things. That it’s more important to do what you love than to worry about what other people think of you. That what other people may think is weird is actually really really wonderful and special and lovely. He makes me want to embrace my own weird and to live my life as honestly as he does his.