The big excitement around here with my children and their friends is “What are you going to be for Halloween?” This is an important question. After all, there is the school parade, the town fall festival (and parade), the church’s Trunk or Treat event (and parade), and the annual “get candy from your neighbors” ritual (with spontaneous rush-to-the-next-house parade). I count at least five chances to dress up for Halloween, and we aren’t even talking about any private Halloween parties.
The choice of costume is a big deal. While hoards of Disney princesses, pirates, cheerleaders, zombies, zombie cheerleaders, and a superhero or two will descend upon our town in October, this group will also include a disco ball. Yup, my kid wants to be a disco ball.
I’m cool with that.
It is going to take a lot more work on my part, this disco ball thing, and my initial reaction as I gazed longingly at the vinyl and fabric ready-made costumes on the rack was, “Wouldn’t you want to be Jack Sparrow instead?” But, I swallowed that thought and that comment, and put it away fast, because I am secretly proud of my child. He is showing his independent spirit.
The youngest of three, Henry has always been one to go with the crowd, padding along behind his brother and sister, sometimes stepping painfully on their shadows, sometimes getting the benefits of an ice cream half finished, or a fuzzy Buzz Lightyear shirt that has been washed a hundred times into softness. More often, though, this easy-going child gets dragged about where everyone else wants to go, sometimes literally and with a sigh.
So, if my guy decides to exert his independence as something involving mirrors and spray paint, something most of his peers have never heard of, something that may well be a literal chance to shine? Yeah, this mama is going to make it happen.
Because, I think we have to look for these moments. The ones where our kids don’t go along with the crowd, where they are thinking out of the box. There are those little creative moments, when a toddler puts his underwear on his head because it is different, or a second-grader decides to dress herself in something resembling Rainbow Bright, because they have the freedom of trying it out, of anticipating the reaction with joy. When those moments happen, we adults better not disappoint them.
Will encouraging one lone disco ball in a sea of cartoon characters mean that I will never have to worry about Henry making the wrong choices due to peer pressure? Of course not, but I hope that by encouraging his independent, slightly quirky choices, he will feel confident in his creativity, his instinct, his internal compass of who he is and what he will or will not do; how he can choose to live his life.
We have to give them those moments to be reflective. We have to let them shine, even if that means in the guise of a disco ball.