Monday, May 23, 2016

On letting your child stand out in a crowd

Max declared Saturday pajama day, which was fine with me because some weekends I don't even get around to getting dressed before noon. "All day!" he told me. I said "Sure!" 

Around 3:00, Dave decided to head to Costco. Max loves going because: food samples! Same with Dave.

"Max, we need to change you out of your pajamas," Dave said.

"No!" Max said, shaking his head.

I was with him.

"Honey, he can stay in his pajamas," I said. It was chilly, so Max would be wearing a hoodie over his pj top, only the bottoms would be showing. They are unmistakably pajama bottoms. But he was content in them.

"Come on, it's embarrassing," Dave said.

"Only if you think it is," I said. "I've seen teens wearing pajama bottoms out!"

Dave grudgingly agreed.

I used to worry about Max fitting in. When he was 8 and into the color purple, I found a pair of gloriously purple Crocs at Target but decided to not buy them because I worried they would make him stand out.

At one point, Max walked around wearing the "I am spagetthi" sign from the Headbandz game during his spaghetti obsession phase. 

Over the years, though, I've relaxed about Max blending in. Especially when he started wearing the Fireman Max plastic helmet everywhere. That's how he ID'd—who was I to stop him?

To be sure, I take issue when people gape or gawk at Max, but that's when he's not dressed in anything out of the ordinary. The Fireman Max hat tends to make people smile, or strike up a conversation. Little kids have been known to ask if Max is an actual fireman. Sometimes he responds "Yes!"

Sometimes, I wish that I'd been more like Max at his age, not caring what people thought about me.

Dave and I talked about the pj thing that night.

"Max has no self-consciousness," I noted, "and we should just let him do his thing...within reason."

"I know, but he's a teen," Dave said.

"Since when have we ever expected him to act his age?" I said.

"You have a point," Dave said, four of my favorite words ever.

The next day, Max was headed to a party to hang with kids he'll be at camp with this summer. He came downstairs in the same pajama top as the day before, and a pair of shorts.

"He wanted to wear it," poor Dave explained, clearly beaten down by both of us.

"Hey, Max, that's not clean," I said. "You can't wear that."

"Awwww," he said, but he was smiling and he knew he had to change.

And he did.


  1. Max doesn't care how people view his clothes. Neither do I

  2. I first became a little emo/goth drakling at 12, for me it was about having some control over why people were staring at me.

  3. I love it! My son (Autism spectrum) doesn't wear unusual clothes too often but he rarely dresses for the weather. It's raining this week but it doesn't deter him from wearing his sandles and shorts. This is the kid who went sledding in a snowstorm in snowpants and a t-shirt though. Sigh. He's 15. We just let him do his thing. He did wear a blue and white striped engineer's hat from the ages 3-5 though... lol. I kind of miss that little kid! :D

  4. Reading this, I also feel like you guys are so fortunate that max can choose clothes and express opinions about them - even argue for them! I work with a young man who will probably never be interested in what he wears, because he's not able to make comparisons between himself and others, or understand the way clothes can be used to express your identity. Of course he is his own person and because clothes don't matter to him, we don't worry about it - but it is lovely that max has the skills and cognition to stand up for what he wants.


Thanks for sharing!

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