I have four children. Each one of them holds the most special place in my heart. There is the precocious one, the funny one, the silly one and the one with all of the flare. My middle son is a free spirit. He exudes the kind of self-confidence that you pray that your child will have, without an ounce of cockiness. He just likes to be different. My boy isn’t trying to be better than anyone, but he does like to stand out. His style has evolved over his very short 10 years. When he was a toddler, he had a blue period. Not unlike Picasso, during this time everything was blue — the underpants, the socks, the shirts and the pants. If blue wasn’t touching his body, he wasn’t wearing it. He wasn’t a brat about it, just particular. He had plenty of blue clothes, so we just let it go. Eventually he branched out into different colors, but this was his first foray in asserting himself as the style maven in our home.
When he was seven, he got glasses. He was the only kid in the family and at the time, the only boy in his class. This could be a bummer for some kids, but not my guy. He loved it! Picking out frames is his specialty. He started off with some stylin’ black rectangular ones and has since moved onto bright-hued stunners. The bigger, the better; think Sally Jesse Raphael in her talk show heyday. His personality shines through with those specs. He even got a glow-in-the-dark pair for Halloween. I buy them online, so they are inexpensive, and I can afford to get a few pairs to swap out. Currently, we’re in an orange mood.
But none of these style preferences could have prepared me for our current season. He now exclusively wears Pringles socks. Yeah, those Pringles. You know, the delicious, salty potato crisp. We stopped at one of those humongous gas stations on a road trip last year and he spotted the brightest green socks I had ever seen. They are donned with sour cream and onion and that familiar mustached grin. He was all over them. My husband said fine, and that was that. We didn’t see those socks for a while, and then one day, he wore them to school.
Here’s the thing: my kids wear uniforms. There is little room for self-expression, so socks are a way for kids to be different. His friends loved them and started calling him “Pringle Boy.” He thought that was about the greatest thing he’d ever heard in his life. So he ate it up. We have since purchased four other pairs of Pringles socks — yep, that many designs exist, and he rotates them on a regular basis. Did I mention that these are adult socks, so they look like knee socks and he is wearing them with shorts? That’s the outfit of the day.
If you’re the kid who only wears Pringles socks, then you know you’re the one who’s packing that lunchbox full of crispy goodness. This whole persona has really caught on. He swears that it has made him popular among his peers. He assures me that everyone loves them. He also told me that his friends call me Mrs. Pringles, because I have BBQ chip-colored hair. So I’ve got that goin’ for me.
Pringle Boy is exactly what I hoped that my child would be. He is happy. And he is self-confident. And he couldn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of him. That makes me so proud as a mom. I am raising someone who loves himself and is not afraid to be unique. Self-confidence is something that I personally struggle with. I have never been able to just unabashedly be myself. I am envious of his spirit and ability to be who he wants to be. It makes him happy and he lives his best life every day.
Our kids have so many pressures in life to be smart, strong, athletic, artistic and all kinds of other things that adults impose on them. We need to just let them be kids. It goes so fast, they should enjoy it while they can. I know that time is fleeting, and this phase will pass just as the days of blue on blue are gone, but I hope that he never changes. I want to bottle this feeling of self-worth that he has and have a drop or two ready anytime that he doubts himself. I want him to never forget that he should always be true to himself. I hope that he will never feel the need to wear contacts to hide his glasses because they aren’t cool. If he wants to wear silly socks or stripes with plaid, then I will encourage him and take lots of pictures.
He is his own man. I love that. And I will always root him on. The kids will know I am his mom by the sound of my cheers…and my BBQ-flecked highlights.