Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I blame the media.

So I just had a pretty heavy conversation with my 3 year old. Here's how it began:

Me: Man, Alex, you need a haircut already. I think I'm just going to have to start cutting it.
Alex: No, I don't want you to cut it.
Me: Why not?
Alex: Because it will look silly, and then everyone will laugh at me.
Me: What do you mean? Who would laugh at you?
Alex: Everyone at school would laugh at me.
Me: Do kids at school laugh at people if they look silly?
Alex: Yes, they laugh at people who look different.
Me: What does different mean?
Alex: People who don't look how they're supposed to.
Me: Well, who decides how people are supposed to look?
Alex: Everyone!
Me: So how are people supposed to look?
Alex: Not silly!

He went on to say that he would be sad if his friends laughed at him because he was "different", and when I asked if anyone had ever laughed at him because he looked silly, he said no. I asked him if he had ever laughed at anyone else because they looked silly, and he said no (although I'm not entirely convinced that's true). Then we started to talk about how people think of "silly" in different ways, and how it is not up to anyone to decide what anyone else should look like. He told me he knew that laughing at people was not a nice thing to do, but when I asked him if he would still play with his best friend if his friend got his hair cut in the shape of moose antlers, he told me no. Then I asked him if I got a silly haircut, would he still love me, and he told me no. Ouch. I then proceeded to explain that I would love him if his hair looked silly or if his face turned blue or if he grew elephant trunks out of his ears because family and friends love each other no matter what they look like. He looked skeptical.

I rambled on and on, explaining that God makes us all different, that we should never dislike someone because they look different or dress funny or have "silly" hair, and that we definitely should never laugh at other people because it hurts their feelings. I even suggested that if his friends were laughing at people, he could say, "Hey guys, laughing at other people isn't nice". He told me he wouldn't say that because saying that would make his friends sad.

Now, I'm not taking any part of this conversation too seriously (except maybe the part about how he won't love me if I get a bad haircut...), but I am left wondering, should my 3 year old already be worried about whether he'll conform to arbitrary standards of silliness set by other preschoolers? The fact that he's even thinking about it makes me a little uneasy. Aren't 3 year olds supposed to be footloose and fancyfree? Aren't they supposed to be worried about whether they'll get their favorite swing at recess or the biggest slice of apple at snacktime? I was hoping I wouldn't have to address self-esteem issues until puberty.

Is this normal? Is my child overly sensitive? Or am I making ado about nothing? Preschooler moms, please weigh in...


Picture Books said...

wow Sarah--that is a funny (yet deep) conversation you had with him :-) They can be so grown up sometimes, it's scary. Speaking of "silly" hair, Noah intentionally messed up his own hair & called it "crazy hair" before preschool yesterday. He was thrilled to go in with the "crazy" hair. Kids and their hair. hysterical.

susbyme said...

Talk about a little Sarah! Awareness beyond his years. Time to let him know Goofy is the new cool.