When Speed Skating Son was six, he started wearing ties to school. I can’t even remember the first time it happened although had I known how it was going to evolve maybe I would have written it down because now, almost four years later, he wears either a dress shirt and tie or full suit and tie every single day.
To the grocery store, to the playground, running errands, school, the movies, playing outside — he wears a tie. He currently owns over 90 with 3 bow ties thrown in for good measure. There’s a few tie clips and puff handkerchiefs as well. Also cufflinks. Some we have bought him, some he’s bought for himself, others were gifts. Two years ago Santa brought him a suit for Christmas – he was through the roof with excitement.
It is such a normal part of our life, such a part of him that I don’t even see it anymore. But other people do. When we go out people will point and smile or ask him what the special occasion is. Nothing, he replies, I dress like this every day. This is when they will look at me and smile, telling me what a great job I’m doing raising such a nice little boy. While I’d love to take credit, this has nothing to do with me – my son is who he is because of him, not me. I know this because I have another son who loves to dress in ripped jeans and will wear the same shirt seven days in a row, telling me it is clean when I ask him to throw it in the laundry.
Two children who came from the same body and raised in the same environment yet they are completely different. Our children are born with unique personalities and traits, it’s up to us to nurture them in individual ways.
I can count on one hand the number of times I have asked him to change his clothes over the past four years, mostly due to the weather or activity. When it’s 40 degrees with a humidex warning I won’t let him wear a suit outside to play or when he wants to go climbing trees I nix the ties – strangulation hazard and all that. Other than that, I let him be him.
But the suits have caused problems along the way as well. There were, unfortunately, people who were unable to see past the suits, ties and differences and felt the need to box him in. And yes, there was bullying too and while I don’t advocate violence there was a part of me that was quite happy when Speed Skating Son told me he hit the bully with his briefcase.
Last night was the speed skating end-of-year banquet where they were handing out trophies. Speed Skating Son was excited about it all week. I watched as he got ready for the evening coming downstairs in a lavender shirt and striped tie. I was asked to carry his epi-pen because the case is bulky and ruins the smooth lines of his suit.
I watched as he sat with the friends he had made throughout the year and exchanged phone numbers so they could stay in touch over the summer. I watched as he was called up to receive his plaque for skating in the Ontario Cup and then again as he received a runner-up certificate for most promising male competitive skater. There was another skater in the club who wore a suit last night – he’s older and happens to be the fastest male. We all laughed as a joke was made about how he was fast because he was so well dressed. Out of the corner of my eye I caught Speed Skating Son’s grin as he looked down at his own suit.
I think, in the end as a parent, all we really want for our children is for them to be happy.
As I put Speed Skating Son to bed last night we went through his high, medium and low points of the day. Then he told me how happy speed skating makes him.
It kind of rocked my world.