Drawing lines in the sand: me, the boy, and north-country politics

20 11 2011

Caleb and I had our first meeting-of-minds today about the differences in our world views–or at least the first one that counts as such to me. Before, we’ve talked about a number of issues wherein different segments of his family have different beliefs or approaches to life, and he’s just listened, or thrown in with me reflexively, because he’s with me and wants to make me happy, the same way I know that, in reverse, he would agree with whomever was talking up north and saying the opposite. Today was the first time he listened to what I was saying, thought about it, and made his own determination.

He picked out his clothes for himself while his dad was showering and I was grading papers this morning, and then he was sent to join his dad in the shower, and when he-the-younger came out, and he-the-elder was still in the shower finishing up, I got the job of being the official gentler-hair-dryer and chased him into his room to speed up the getting-dressed process (he can do it himself, but it’s a cool morning, and I wanted his just-showered skin clothed and warm soon rather than at the pace of his usual meander). When we got there, I found that he’d forgotten something: we had shirt, underwear, and socks, but no pants. “Open your drawers and find pants,” I said, after rushing the other garments on and turning around to hang up his robe for him. He picked up the top pair, charcoal jeans, tossed them at me, and then reconsidered (his emerging fashion sense also contributing, I’m sure, as he noticed the mottled-brown tie-die color of the thermal sleeves attached to the shirt he’d chosen).

First, of course, we had to read the letters and discuss that "grizzly" was a type of bear.

“I want these instead,” he said. “What’s wrong with the jeans?” “Nothing. I just want to wear camouflage.” The camouflage pants are soft, warm-lined trainers: I don’t blame him for liking the feel of them. And they domake a fashionable pairing with the shirt, see?

“Ick,” I said, wrinkling up my face, and he wrinkled his too, but in confusion rather than the echo I’d have had a few months ago. (I don’t pull punches with this child; I never have, and I never want to, unless there’s something really personally awful he needs to be protected from until he’s better positioned to handle it although my philosophic rationale can wait for another post. For now, suffice to say that he knows this about me and expects it, because it’s what he’s always gotten.) “Why ick?” “Camouflage is for killers,” I said. “It’s worn for by two kinds of people, hunters trying to kill animals and soldiers who kill people.” He thought about this for a moment, matching it against the images I’m sure he has gathered from living in hunting-country and watching patriotic propaganda on TV, and then shrugged. “I won’t kill anything,” he said. “I just like it.” And that was the end of that.

Caleb 1, independent-thinking-geared parenting, 1000.




2 responses

20 11 2011


21 11 2011

I used to wear camo because it let me disappear into the forests around my house (or so I imagined) long after I tired of playing soldier. I decided I didn’t want anyone else deciding who my enemies were for me, and seeing none I approved of found no more reason to take up imaginary arms. Camo was the only thing tough enough to handle my penchant for crawling about in the bush, and later back stage.

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