Pride or Principle

Monday, August 6, 2012

In which I shamelessly crowd source parenting advice...

Took Bear school shopping because he insists on growing out of his pants.  While we were at Target I remembered he'd also outgrown his bike helmet and has been talking about taking the training wheels off, so we popped back to the sports section. 

The helmets are next to the seasonal stuff, which means school backpacks.  I was on the fence about getting a new one, so I figured we could take a peek.

The Bear friendly options were impressive and he was predictably changing his mind every 4.2 seconds, each time pronouncing the next choice his "very favorite."

There was a brief discussion in which I cited Dora's annoyance factor as criteria for excluding her as a backpack, but he mostly focused on what you'd expect.

He'd almost settled on the Avengers backpack when he spotted this:

And that was it. End of discussion.  He wants the Hello Kitty backpack.

For the record:
- I do not care if he wants a pink Hello Kitty backpack. I will happily get it for him.
- It is the same price as the Avengers backpack, so there is no good reason not to get it.

It's important to note that in addition to the Avengers (his current passion), he passed up Lightning McQueen, Mater, Hot Wheels, Spider-man and (OMG!!) Mario.

Mar. I. O.  A subject about which he is so passionate he has stopped people on the street to soliloquize.

Bottom line: I stalled and told him we could come back another day to get it.

The old, naive me would have simply purchased the backpack, believing kids this young won't care about brands or colors or who has what character on their stuff.

That was before I witnessed his first day of Pre-K last fall, when the boys in his class greeted him for the first time by grabbing his shoulders, spinning him around and inspecting his backpack.

It's a Buzz Lightyear backpack. Which was, apparently, cool enough for them. The grabber made the announcement, the other boys indicated their approval and Bear was integrated into the line for the walk into school.

After picking my jaw up off the sidewalk, I went home a thoroughly disillusioned mommy.

Which brings me back to this dilemma.

I love that my Bear asked for a sparkly purple superhero cape with a rainbow on it - we talked to his insanely talented godmother and she made one to his exact specifications.  He wears it daily. 

I love that when we were clothes shopping he asked for a ruffled shirt featuring a skull wearing a pink bow.  And I find it absolutely adorable he selected a Lightning McQueen bike helmet, then proceeded to beg for the pink and purple Disney Princess bike horn.

But I do not love that kids are cruel. And now I know that - in a classroom where they're encouraged to wear sweatpants (because not all have motor skills for pants/are potty trained) and old shirts (for messy sensory activities) - the kids have apparently settled on backpacks as status symbol. 

Plus... I am frugal.  I don't want to be buying another backpack if he changes his mind again in a week after getting his feelings trampled by his peers. 

I'm just so worried about his fragile 4 year old emotions.  Because at the end of the day my big, bold, holy-crap-can-you-please-be-quiet-for-10-seconds kid is incredibly sensitive.  One whom at just 3 years old said to us once after we raised our voices in angry frustration, "you hurt my heart."

So what do I do?  Do I practice what I preach - that all colors are for everybody - and let him have the pink backpack? Do I choose to make him happy now but risk his pride over a utopian principle?