The Supers

The Supers
Our growing superfamily

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Clothing Neurosis

Marcus is not your average happy-go-lucky kind of kid. He’s intense. He’s sensitive. He furrows his brow and gives the stink-eye on a regular basis. He takes things very seriously and likes things to happen in a certain way. When he was a little younger he used to script out conversations and play for us. As in, “No, Mommy, my guy says let’s go and then YOUR guy says okay.” So much for spontaneity. He doesn’t like milk that has already been poured and then stored in the fridge. It has to be NEW milk, from the jug. You can imagine my friend D’s surprise when we were visiting her house and Marcus asked for some milk, “... But NEW milk. Not milk from the fridge.” We advised her to buy a cow.

Anyhow, that being said we didn’t find it particularly concerning when several months ago Marcus began to have issues with his clothes. He didn’t like clothes that didn’t fit properly, which was fine because hey, who does? But then it started to escalate. He didn’t like any of his clothes anymore. He’d get changed several times each morning, and each time he’d get more and more frustrated. “There’s LUMPS in the front!!!” He’d frantically try to smooth them out but he couldn’t. By the time he was dressed he was in tears, I was fed up, and nobody was happy. We got him some nice new clothes for Christmas and were so careful to choose out pants that would fit him well. We were so sad when the new pants were rejected as soundly as the old pants.

Finally, when David was dropping Marcus off at preschool the other day, he decided to investigate. Marcus was beginning to panic about his clothes as he was changing his shoes and David said, “Marcus, WHY does it bother you that there are lumps in your pants?” “Because J and C (his best school buddies, or so we thought) say that my clothes are too big and have lumps in them and it makes me sad.”

Oh. My. Goodness. When David came home for lunch and told me this tale I was so upset. Somebody is hurting my little boy. Now I am going to have to go all the way over to the preschool, find the little kids that are doing this, and hurt them. No, wait, I can’t do that. That’s not going to work.

The worst part for me was realizing that Marcus had been struggling with this for MONTHS and HADN’T TOLD US. And when he said that he didn’t like school we dismissed it because we thought he just didn’t want to go because he liked hanging with us more. When we asked him why he didn’t like school he said because he’d rather be with Mommy. Well no kidding, Mommy never makes fun of him!

The instinct when hearing that he’s being teased is to provide him with a full arsenal of rebuttals and insults. If we followed our initial physical response we’d have that guy speaking like a newly-released convict with a bad attitude. But I realized that isn’t going to work. The other kid is always going to have a better comeback and he’s going to have it on the fly. Marcus would have to wait until he got home to get a new one from Mom and Dad because he just doesn’t have that kind of a mind. He’s not a mean kid, and so far his best insults are to stick his tongue out or call somebody an idiot (Thank you Disney-Pixar). We realized that we were going to need to teach him the most important lesson—how to be strong. How to look somebody in the eye and say, “I don’t care what you think. I like me.”

I let the preschool know what is going on but I didn’t give the boys names and I told them that we were handling this at home but I just wanted them to be aware. There will always be people in life that will try to make you feel bad about yourself. You have a choice to give those people power by letting it affect you or to take their power away by being strong. We explained to Marcus that there is nothing wrong with his clothes. We told him that if anybody teases him in a way that makes him sad, he has the right to tell them that they are wrong, to tell them that he likes his clothes, and to tell them to worry about themselves. We also told him that if he feels like he needs backup to go tell a teacher and to TELL US when he gets home. I hope that he heard us, but I have a feeling that he did. Today when he was getting dressed he chose out a slightly baggy dinosaur shirt that he got for Christmas, really liked, but hasn’t really worn. And he looked great.