The episode prompted me to re-evaluate a whole host of answers recently given to my enquiring two year old. Why couldn’t we dip chips in orange juice? Why shouldn’t he wear odd socks? What’s wrong with having gravy on your jelly? I’m not advocating letting a toddler run riot; there are very good reasons why we can’t run with scissors, play with bleach or poke sticks in our sister’s eyes… But am I really so bound by the cords of convention that I can’t tolerate the notion of my son wearing a tutu? Do I want to nurture a confident, independent young man, or am I breeding sheep?
So I determined to allow my son to follow his instincts, and to take my lead from him, in an effort to broaden my own perspective. The following day we got dressed together; “Mummy wear it”, he said. “Oh I don’t think so, darling” I replied, “It doesn’t really – oh, right…. ok then”. We came downstairs and I battled my over-active gag reflex as we tucked into our chicken and couscous breakfast. We spent the morning in the playroom with the babies, with balloons up our jumpers. Later that day we went to the park. We got a few strange looks and I’m sure I wasn’t imagining the number of parents who moved their children out of our reach. Couldn’t they see the value of our experiment? We played happily for an hour, then headed back home for tea. I felt oddly light; liberated from social expectations, and without the fatigue brought on by countless arguments with a boy too small to reason with.
My husband arrived home; ruffled my hair absent-mindedly and asked after our day. We told him of our trip to the park and the Toddler smiled contentedly. After a few moments Husband looked at me quizzically; “Why the ball gown?” he said.
“Why not?” I said.