He needs me. He's afraid of the dark. He's not tired. One more story. He's thirsty. He needs to pee. I know I should have put an end to it long ago, but I'll let you in on a little secret. I really don't mind it too much... I know one day Sean will no longer need or want me to lie down with him and scratch his back. One day he will tell me to go away. So I cherish these quiet moments in the dark with him. He's at his cuddliest and he talks a lot. Usually he talks about funny things, but last night, he didn't.
Last night as I lay under fresh Spider Man sheets with my gangly four-year-old in the crook of my arm, he told me he didn't have friends at day care because they don't like his "dumb shirts." I don't know if this is true or a stalling technique (well, I know he has friends, but I don't know if maybe one day a kid said something mean or if he was making it up). Either way he sounded sad about it and it made me sad.
And it made me mad! How dare some mean kid make fun of mine because of his clothing choices! Does this teasing really start this early? I remember being teased for what I wore in fifth grade at the earliest. It didn't get any easier as a teen. And even now, I spout "Be confident. Wear what you want. Don't worry about others", but I still worry if I will look stupid or if someone won't like my grown-up equivalent of a "dumb shirt." It's dumb and irrational, but it's still a real fear, so I felt his pain and a fierce protectiveness. Not just for a 4-year-old spinning tales at bedtime, but for a 10-year-old or a 14-year-old Sean. For a child I won't always be able to hold and protect. For a child who one day may not tell me his biggest fears and saddest moments. For the child I was.
I kissed him on the head as I assured him, "Everyone likes your shirts and if they don't they don't deserve to be your friends anyway." And I meant it. And I mean it. For him and me and you. If someone doesn't like us for who we are, then we don't need them in our lives. I'm always nervous when I wear the peacock feather. I get many compliments, but I also get some weird stares and some giggles. But now I am going to work on not caring about that because those people don't matter.