In one of my “mommy” Facebook groups a mom posted about not allowing her child to wear his superhero costume outside the house. It caused conflict every time they left the house because he wanted to wear it and she always said no. So she asked for some feedback from other moms. A majority of the responses were to let him wear it, however there were a few “costumes only at home” responses.
I read this post after returning from the Museum of Science where my boys wore their superhero capes and masks throughout the entire museum. To be honest, I have been waiting for this day. I have been truly looking forward to their choice of clothes being a costume over typical attire. There is something so incredible watching kids strut through life dressed as a dinosaur or super-hero. I also saw it on all the faces of the adults at that museum. The moment they looked up and saw two masked toddlers walking by, their faces lit up with joy.
It was after the 50th adult smiled and said to me “enjoy this, because it goes fast,” it hit me. I know this goes by fast, that was not what resonated with me. It was the knowledge that this window of zero insecurity over what you look like, matched with the genuine belief you can be anything, is the flash in the pan. I know the joyful looks were because they looked incredibly adorable, but I also think it was because it reminded the adults of that period of childhood where you were free. Free to be anything you wanted, even a fire truck.
You appreciate that memory when you are an adult, because our lives are rarely that anymore. So when you see a couple of toddlers in costume on a random day, squealing with delight over seeing the world in front of them, it brings you back and you relive that time, even just for a moment.
Because, in no time this wild abandonment will end and they will be stressing over their hair styles, wanting certain sneakers, making sure they have what everyone else has. I hope this isn’t totally the case, but I remember my early teen years and being an individual is not easy.
I want to instill confidence in their choices and I believe that begins in these early years. When they ask to wear goggles to the store because it helps them see better, I am laying the foundation for confidence in their choices.
I also feel that dressing up expands their imagination in so many ways. I watched Atlas, in his cape, standing in the light of the kelp forest, suddenly start practicing his super hero moves and poses. There was something magical about the glow of the light that overtook him and in the middle of everyone he became a super hero. And for a child like Atlas, who relies more on his brother to create, this moment was so special. To see him on his own accord, use his imagination in that way, was so lovely.
I want both of them to grow up feeling confident in their ability to think outside of the box, to stand on their own, be a leader, think freely and for me, that is allowing them to self express – even if that self-expression is as a beluga whale accompanying me to the store.