When my youngest grandson was in pre-school, he wore his pajamas just about everywhere. One morning he was in my care and I was responsible for getting him to school. It came time for getting out the door and on our way, and Max absolutely would not get out of his pjs and into his school clothes. Thinking I couldn’t allow him to go to school dressed like that, I did everything I could think of to cajole him into putting on appropriate clothes…that is, what I deemed appropriate. I even tried to shame him – “the other kids will laugh at you if you go to school in your pajamas.”
I honestly don’t remember if he won the battle, or I did – we’re talking several years ago now. Today, when I think of this episode, I am filled with regret. Yes, he was only a young child so may not have been consciously trying to be “uncool”, but in fact, that’s exactly what was happening. Max was perfectly comfortable doing his own thing. I was the only one in the room worried about him dressing out of the ordinary and drawing attention to himself.
I’m not sure I ever was a free-spirit like Max, even as a youngster. As an adult, I have never wanted to stick out in a crowd as being different or to bring attention to myself. I fear being thought of as foolish, silly, or awkward. But, I am beginning to realize I sometimes stifle my self-expression or creativity by being self-conscious.
The problem in the Max story was mine, not his. I tried to project my self-consciousness onto him. He had the right idea – whether conscious or not – I did not! Wearing his pajamas to school bothered no one.
Get a grip, Grammy, and let the kid express himself!
Fortunately, Max a has a wise mom who knows when to let him do his thing. I believe Max even wore his pjs in a Christmas program back then – and, no one in the audience cared, made fun of him, or likely even noticed! (Except Grammy, of course.)
Laughing, singing, dancing, wearing clothing that may not be in vogue are all good for the soul…they allow the “doer” to be authentic. All are activities I don’t always feel comfortable doing in public. I’m going to work on changing my hang-up about being “uncool” – work on lightening up.
My spouse is a great example of someone who can let his hair down, so to speak. He thinks nothing of bursting into song while walking from the parking lot into Target; or playing the car radio loud enough for all around to hear. Both of those activities embarrass me for him – you don’t catch me doing either of them.
My effort to change my self-consciousness and act authentically once in awhile will have to be deliberate. It won’t come easily for me; but, I’m thinking I may find letting go very freeing. It’s a lot of work to stay in control and act “cool” all the time! Wish me luck.