It’s back to school time, and it happens to be a big one for our family - our oldest son is starting Kindergarten next week. Admittedly, I choked back tears as I typed out that phrase. I knew this day would come eventually. I promised
myself that I would be the cool mom who sent my child off without a flood of emotions, but I have now realized that I don’t think it’s possible to do so. This is such a huge milestone, and I am so happy for him, but every time I look at him, my mind flashes back in time. I think of the first moment the doctor handed me Logan in the hospital room and how I stared into his perfect eyes feeling the most in love and most terrified I’ve ever been in my life. I think of the first time he smiled at me and how my heart melted. I think of the look of sheer delight on his face as he took his first step. I think of the first time he told me he loved me. Along with the trip down memory lane, the “what ifs” have hijacked my thoughts. Earlier today, my stream of consciousness consisted of:
Me: Vanilla soy late, or should I get a mocha today? Wait, what if Logan has trouble making friends? What if he doesn’t like his teacher? What if he gets bullied? What if he is the bully? What if he starts hanging out with a bad crowd? What if I don’t get along with his friends’ parents? What if his friends’ parents don’t like me? What if [insert crazy & unfounded idea caused by a proprietary blend of my own paranoia, insecurity, and newly recognized mental instability]? SHUT UP BRAIN! <deep breath> Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. <Tears well up in eyes>
Barista: Um…ma’am, there is a long line. Are you going to order?
Me: I would like a tall mocha, then please call your mother to tell her how much you love her! <sobbing>
I decided that back to school shopping would be a fun experience for my son and I to bond, and for me to quiet down my mind. Since I have an apparel company, you can probably guess that clothes are kind of my thing. I like to share my love of clothes and fashion with my boys. Let’s face it - clothes are fun! They let you express who you are. They let you showcase your interests. They help you identify new friends who share mutual interests with you. Fashion is very powerful in how we view each other and our society. Fashion is art. Fashion can be controversial. Fashion can change how we think about our roles in life. Fashion defines eras. For me, shopping was the best thing I could think of to calm my nerves and find fun, inspirational clothes to start his transition into becoming an official big kid.
So we were off to the store! My 4-year-old son came along too to look for clothes for preschool. Logan’s favorite colors are red and yellow, due to a recent Pikachu obsession. In addition, he wanted to find a t-shirt with Wonder Woman on it flying her invisible airplane. Our family went as the Justice League for Halloween last year, so I take that as a personal compliment that his favorite superhero is the one I dressed as. Chay loves purple and he wanted to find a shirt with a cat, and one with a robot dinosaur. So our list was created: red, yellow, purple, cats, Wonder Woman, robot dinosaur. Easy peasy! Here we come school clothes!
We entered the store and found our way to the Boys’ section. Suddenly, we were engulfed by a sea of greys, blues, blacks, and greens. Everything looked, for lack of a better word, drab. The clothes weren’t bold or inspiring. The entire section looked like it was seeking professional help for depression. The shirts had snarky slogans, skulls, slogans about being tough, and faded images. This was a HUGE contrast to the neighboring girls’ section which was pulsating with bright colors and sparkles.
At this point, I got completely fed up. What message are we conveying to our preschool kids, because the message I’m reading here is, “Boys, you have to look cool, blend in with everyone else, be tough, and you can’t be happy because that’s not cool. Girls, you need to stick out, but you can’t look smart, and remember to show off your butt!” You have probably figured out by now that we left empty handed.Out of professional curiosity, I walked over to examine the Girl’s section closer. There were t-shirts with “intellectual” sayings on them like “Whatever” and “It Girl,” slogans about selfies and parties, princesses galore – you know, everything to inspire a budding Rhodes Scholar. I will remind you that I was in the kids’ section, specifically looking in the 2T-size 6 range. That is when I came across the jaw dropper – preschool sized daisy duke shorts. These shorts (if you could even call them that, as they looked more like denim underwear), were so short that I can imagine a classy hooker getting offended by the shortness of these shorts (though I don’t have someone in that profession in my group of friends to confirm that statement).
As my blood boiled, I became even more determined to grow Svaha into something bigger so that my kids can grow up in a world where they aren’t being fed these ridiculous and insulting gender stereotypes. I want my boys to be able to wear bright, bold colors. I want girls to wear clothes that show off their love of science, math, or other awesome things that require a big, beautiful brain to fully appreciate! As my righteous indignation grew and I made plans to spread the word about Svaha, it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t thought about Kindergarten for a full hour. Oh my God, my baby is going to be a Kindergartner next week! Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. <Tears well up in eyes>
If any of you out there had a similar back to school shopping experience, we want to hear about it. We need your help to start a revolution, one t-shirt at a time!