There came a time when the mouldable mini human I had been dressing up like a Gap ad (FYI, that’s not slang for my vagina) became a five-year-old fashionista with his own terrible ideas of what to wear.
A style that changed my “honey, I shrunk the hipster” aesthetic to something more like “honey, our kid is a homeless midget.” Joan Rivers would have a field day with Max’s wardrobe, if she wasn’t in a field.
Unless I want to fight over something as superficial as dumb stupid clothes, or bribe him into wearing what I want him to wear and thereby make me a shitty parent, I have to just let him be.
I have to let him step out into the big, cruel world in his Batman shirt and black, pleather pants that are an inch too short – that I meant to destroy 17 piles of laundry ago (damn it). I have to let him, because he’s not just dressing up like the caped crusader. In this outfit, he is Michael fucking Keaton, looking out from his bat cave all mysterious like in his leather-look clamdiggers, waiting for the flood that will threaten to wipe out all of Gotham City. But that flood will fail because the Dork Knight has a plan germinating somewhere in that mystical area where his pants end and his sneakers begin… WHERE SUPER LIVES. Basically, he loves this outfit. So I guess I love it too. FUCK.
And I have to let him wear this outfit EVERY SINGLE DAY. Because it’s still clean, and because “wearing the same outfit two days in a row is not socially acceptable” sounds really fucking stupid.
And when he asks me if Batman “sometimes wears really dark grey” because his black pants are suddenly missing (la la la whistle whistle) and he has these here grey ones, I say “yes, he sure does”, with a sigh. Because Batman does wear grey sometimes. The Lego Movie says so, which we’ve watched a thousand million times. And if I say he doesn’t, Max will know I am a lying bitch face. I mean of course I’m a liar, I’m the freakin’ tooth fairy for god’s sake, but let’s not use up the bullshit quota on this small time crappola.
And when he asks me to make a cape and sew it to the back of his Batman shirt to really complete the picture of the vigilante superhero whose cape seems pretty useless actually since he doesn’t even fly but somehow he’d be super lame without, I say “sure, son, I’ll get right on that.” Because consider the alternative: he could be asking me to make a human skin suit.
And when the bat apparel has finally vanished into the night and it’s time for a little colour in my super son’s super life, I have to let him wear his red pants and red shirt – and neon orange socks because he doesn’t have any red socks and these are the closest thing. Because in this get-up, he is THE FLASH. The scarlet speedster he’s been drawing non-stop for a year and has every red Crayola marker within a 10-mile radius dried up like Adam West’s yam bag.
And I have to grin and bear it at the birthday party where I know the other little boys will be in J. Crew khakis and button-up shirts, but my special guy wants to wear his green safari shirt (because today he’s Indiana Jones) with his navy sweatpants (because they’re fluffy and warm), making him less like Indy and more like the star of a 1986 episode of Land and Sea where Clyde shows us around the fish plant. Dab a little ketchup in the corners of his mouth and Max is rocking this party right.
All this, while in his closet snappy stonewash jeans, crisp cotton shirts, and knitted vests lie in wait, forever.
But hey, it’s all good. It’s wonderful, even. He’s showing the first signs of self-expression, making his own choices and not giving a shit what anyone else thinks as long as he feels super duper. If I don’t let him be who he is now, expressed with clothes and art and music and such, one day it’ll be his turn to say to me, from inside his cozy human skin suit, “Hey mom, what in the actual fuck.”
And then I throw myself down a well.