The walks to school can sometimes feel like an eternity and other days, they are the blip on a busy day of madness and scheduled activity. On other days, I find they are the most significant times of bonding with my boys – holding hands, shooting the breeze, and talking excitedly about the day ahead.
On this particular day, Jack and I were discussing his upcoming preschool graduation (he’s five, this is the big time!) and talked about the need for a haircut so desperately (his wayward curls need to be tamed and if it were up to him, they would be cut right off and make him grow up in one instant.
In our hairy conversation, he muttered, “I want to be handsome. I want my hair to look handsome.”
When I asked him to elaborate, he told me about how he hopes his teachers think he does and I assured him that yes, they do. To which he replied, “I want them to tell me I am.”
And suddenly he aged ten years and we were in the throes of teenagedom wrought with insecurity, questioning, and the longing for acceptance.
We often talk about the pressure to be something that women and girls experience every day, but through the eyes of my five-year-old son and a simple conversation, I became keenly aware of his own desire to be loved in all of his boyish glory.
And I stopped in my tracks, looked into his eyes, and assured him that he was perfect, that he was handsome, that he was loved.
And made a vow to do that more often.
Could I instill in my boys the confidence needed to combat what the world would throw at them? Could I pass along an attitude of self-celebration that is a delicate balance of pompous and humble? What happened to placing a band-aid on a scraped knee?
Suddenly, I was reminded of just how much they need to be reminded that they are so deeply loved, just as they are. With curls or without.
I want to raise him with such confidence that when he is finally big enough to fill this suit (which is hopefully never) that he will never wonder if someone thinks he’s handsome.
Rather that he will know that he is because I told him so.