Okay, what do Justin Beiber, Barack Obama and a t-shirt have in common? First I will address the Bieb. Two weeks ago my niece, my sister, my son and I attended the Justin Beiber concert in Philadelphia. And let me just say that boy is so talented! We were at this concert and my son asked me for cotton candy I went to get it with him. My niece and my sister stood in a line at least 75 people deep to buy a $35.00 dollar t-shirt [what the curse is wrong with these people?] While my poor sister waited and pushed and got pushed in this line she yelled to me across the crowd asking if my son wanted a shirt also. Of course the heat of the moment led to him saying "YES" [At which time I am thinking, OH curse, I do not see this as a good thing and OMG we are a part of these people spending our money on 35.00 t-shirts!]. Next he immediately removed his cool shirt (the one I picked out specifically for the concert) and put on his t-shirt [now I am looking at my 8 year old boy in a shirt with a another Male's face on it. And it isn't Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix or Mick Jagger! I immediately worried what others would think of him] .
We had a great time, we danced, we sang, we watched Justin fly on stage with wings, swim underwater off a ship, we saw fireworks and fire on stage! It really was a great concert. My sister did a great job getting us through traffic and we got home around 1:30 AM. Monday morning, my son was aloud to stay home from school due to the late hour we got home and my sister and niece staying over. Monday morning my son immediately put the shirt back on. Wore it all day. And asked to wear it to school on Tuesday. I washed it and discussed the following with him: Kids are mean. Kids might make fun of you for wearing this shirt. Are you prepared to deal with what other kids might say to you for wearing this shirt? Are you sure you want to wear this shirt? His response, " Mom, I like his music. I am proud that I went to the concert. Some people like rap, some people like country, some people like pop." That is a quote. I stood behind his decision. And after school he said only one "4th grader" said " Justin Beiber is gay". I have no idea of knowing if anyone else said anything and I am not sure if he knows either [mostly because he truly didn't care] but what courage this boy had! Even with all my negative talk about the potential teasing he stood by his decision. How could I not be proud of that? How could I not admire that? What a cool kid!
That same week the next day was election day. I NEVER discuss politics at work or with co-workers and because my fiance and I agree for the most part on our political views we rarely discuss opinions and views at home. We do encourage being informed and we do encourage the democratic process. Some people mentioned the election on Monday and Tuesday and then on Wednesday the results to me I found myself worried to state my own political views. I felt ashamed in front of some people and I felt worried to voice my opinion in front of others due to either lack of knowledge or fear that I would say the wrong thing. As most people know I often have little difficulties voicing my opinion [I have a blog for God's sake]. Anyway, my son and his Bieber shirt came to mind on my ride home from work that day. If only I could have that same carefree attitude as he did. If only I wasn't afraid to speak my mind as he did. Then it made me wonder if I was like him one day? Fearless of others opinions, fearless to speak my mind, and what happened? And then I began to think of all the things I am afraid to speak up about and I thought "WOW I am a coward"[curse]! And I realized how worried about appearances I am. And how often I tell my children to make a good impression and to think about how others will judge them!
Leading me to this next point [sorry I am getting there] Who the [curse] am I to put the idea in my son's head that everyone will laugh at him over a t-shirt? Who am I to pre-judge people and assume they will feel a certain way about me for voicing my opinion? Who am I to underestimate myself and others so much that I am afraid? [ WOW I am pompous, self-centered, egotistical and afraid]
And here is what Bieber, Obama and t-shirts have in common, no matter what we can't control what others say or think about us and we will never know what others feel if we just "go with the flow" and maybe by standing up and being ourselves we can help others to feel confident to do the same. I guess what I am saying is that it's ok to be different. I know that sounds redundant we all here it all the time. But really think about it. As parent's how many times have you told your kids they couldn't wear certain things, or do their hair a certain way, or purchased things for them just because they had to have it because every other child in their class had it? As adults how many times do you refrain from voicing your opinion in work or with your friends or your family? How many times do you stop and think about how you will impact others by saying or doing certain things? I am not saying we need to cause controversy or chaos wherever we go or disregard other's feelings or opinions. Actually I am asking that we all do the opposite, we accept others and their differences, we accept and listen to differences in opinions and we stand by our own points of views.
I will continue to tell my boys they need to dress appropriately for certain events and they have to look clean and be polite and courteous to others. I will also remember to tell them to respect others differences and to keep their own views but to listen to what others have to say. Maybe all of us need to accept other's perspectives and make the effort not to discourage self-expression. And that is where the "it's ok to be different" thing really starts to make sense. [to me anyway]
"We want everybody to act like adults, quit playing games, realize that it's not just my way or the highway."
“Two people can look at the same thing and see it differently..”
"Some people like rap, some people like country, some people like pop."