Thursday, November 15, 2012

"I gotta ask....what's with the skirt?"

We all went out to dinner tonight at a local pizza place. While I waited for the check, The Beast took the boys outside so we could stop asking them to sit down and stop shouting.  The waiter came over, handed me the check, and then sat down across from me saying, "ok.  I gotta ask.  What's with the skirt?  Is it a kilt-loving thing, or...?"

My first thought was "I am not wearing a skirt," but then the kilt reference registered. Bean was wearing a skirt and a swim shirt (they "match" because they are similar satin-y textures).

Honestly, I don't even give the skirt a second thought anymore.  I don't even always realize when he wears costumes anymore.  I generally only take note if he tries to leave the house in pajamas, or if it is 30 degrees out and his legs are bare (I did suggest he wear his leggings to dinner...and he did agree to wear his warm boots - both items from this year's costume).

Every now and then, I'm reminded that my son is wearing a skirt by other people's reactions - like the guy headed to Rocky Horror dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter who appeared to have the wind taken out of his sails upon seeing my skirt-clad 4-year-old yelling and doing "fighting moves" down the sidewalk as I hobbled alongside him on a crutch (you think you're a spectacle, Frank-N-Furter?? This is my every day!).

My conversation with the waiter went like this:

Me:  "Do you know the movie How to Train Your Dragon?"

Waiter:  "Yeah, of course!  I own it!"

Me:  "Well...who would you say is the most bad-ass warrior in that movie?"

Waiter:  ".....the dragons?"

Me:  "Astrid.  Astrid is totally the bad-ass warrior.  Hiccup certainly isn't."

Waiter:  "....ok...sure."

Me:  "Well, my son loved that movie, and he wanted to be Astrid for Halloween last year.  I made him an armor skirt with spikes and stuff, and now he thinks of skirts as armor."

Waiter:  "Oooooooh!  Ok."

Me:  "Frankly, I tried to convince him to settle problems with his words and wit like Hiccup, but he was only interested in the fighting.  So he had to be Astrid."

Waiter:  "Yeah.  You can't fight dragons with words!  ...but I never really thought about the fact that Astrid was the bad-ass warrior before."

I loved that this guy asked me point blank about the skirt.  I get the sense that a lot of people think it must be a political statement from me - that it sprang from a feminist parenting playbook of some sort.  In reality, Bean wanted to be (as The Beast pointed out) the most stereotypically masculine protagonist in his favorite movie, and that character just happened to be a female in a skirt.

He is aware that girls usually wear skirts, but he doesn't think there is any reason boys can't wear skirts.  He knows he gets attention for it, but he doesn't have any reason to think there are assumptions that go with that attention.  And I find myself wondering if the waiter would have asked The Beast about the skirt.  I think The Beast takes less note than I do, as he can name types of actual armor that look skirt-like and is kind of a nerd of Ancient and Medieval warfare, myths, philosophy, etc.

Someday Bean is going to realize that people assume things about boys and men who wear skirts.  He is going to recognize that some people become confused - even uncomfortable - seeing a boy in a skirt. And that day is not far off, I am sure.

But for now, beware my skirted son, for he is armed to the teeth.  (At least in his imagination.)

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