Today, Ollie’s class at daycare were having a superhero disco. I don’t know who was more excited. We got the memo on Monday and spent a majority of the afternoon going through all of his costumes and deciding which would be most fitting for the day. We decided on a full head to toe Batman costume. It was old and it was working quite a bit of pilling but it was what he wanted to wear so I wasn’t going to argue.
As we were getting ready this morning, Ollie told me he didn’t want to dress up. I told him ‘don’t be silly baby, EVERY ONE will be dressed up, I promise.’ The words were falling out of my mouth before I even had the chance to think about what I was saying.
He agreed to wear the Batman costume and INSISTED we found a mask to match (I’m sure he has about four of them hidden in this house somewhere). We FINALLY found one of the four (why didn’t we do this at the beginning of the week) but of course, this one was broken. Not wearing a mask apparently wasn’t an option so I spent the next half an hour searching for new elastic and reattaching it for him.
We arrived at daycare and as I pulled into the car park, I caught a glimpse of some kids playing outside. Guess how many were in costume? NONE!
Instant guilt rushed through me. I double checked the memo to make sure I hadn’t got the days wrong. Today was definitely the right day! I thought about making something up to Ollie and telling him he could take it off if he wanted but by this stage I had already convinced him that today was going to be the best day ever. ‘ALL of your friends will be dressed up and you’re going to have SO much fun!!’ Why, why, why did I tell him that?
There was no turning back.
We open the door to his classroom. Ollie took one look at his class mates and stopped in his tracks. There was one little girl dressed as a lady bug and the rest were all in regular clothes. He looked up at me with almost tears in his eyes. It was obvious he was embarrassed (how does a three year old even know this feeling?). I felt horrible.
I tried to convince him that it was okay. That he was the coolest kid in class that day (and every day). That it doesn’t matter about anyone else. As long as HE is happy and feels GOOD and has FUN.. He wasn’t buying it.
We took his costume off and he sat down to have morning tea with the other kids. He didn’t smile. He barely looked at me. He just sat there and ate his morning tea.
I gave him a big kiss and told him that I will leave his costume in his bag just in case he changes his mind later. I wanted to tell him I was sorry. Sorry for lying. Sorry for embarrassing him and for making a promise I couldn’t keep.
I closed the door behind me and left that day feeling guilty. Why did I tell him these things? Why did I rely on the accountability of other parents? Maybe they had a busy morning and forgot that it was dress up day today. Maybe they didn’t get the memo. Maybe they didn’t have a costume at all. All valid reasons. Valid reasons that I should have considered BEFORE I made a promise to my son.
I’ve been thinking about Ollie all day. Have I lost his trust? Or has he forgotten all about the promise I couldn’t keep?
I wonder why it is that at such a young age, he already is so worried about those around him. Why did it matter what any one else was wearing this morning? Why couldn’t he make the decision that this was his FAVOURITE costume and he was going to wear it no matter what.
I’m not sure what to take away from this experience. Is it that I shouldn’t rely on anyone else for my own (or my kids’) happiness? Or is it that I should be doing a better job at trying to convince my children that it is totally fine to be themselves and no one else’s opinion matters. Or both?
Maybe I’m just being dramatic. Maybe I am too hard on myself as a mother. Maybe the lesson here is that us mothers need to gives ourselves a little slack. Shit happens and sometimes promises get broken (whether we like it or not) but these littles of ours are going to love us regardless.