Tiger shirt and self-confidence

Because we no longer live in a town with a Target, I've found a replacement store to whittle the hours and paychecks away: The Children's Place. They have great prices and fun clothes for both of my kids. Yesterday I picked up this shirt for J-man:

Three reasons drove me to purchase it: A) It was on sale for a whopping $0.99, B) He recently has become interested in tigers and jaguars, and C) I have a weakness for weird clothes (I have three shirts with various cats on them and one with a unicorn).

I showed my husband the shirt when I got home. "No. He's not wearing that," he said surprisingly firm and serious. "He will get made fun of. I wore stuff like that and got made fun of," he explained--still not breaking the serious tone. My husband was adamant that the shirt only be worn at home. "He already struggles to make friends; lets not make it more difficult for him."

I have a difficult time accepting that kids make fun of each other in the first grade for their clothes. I'm keenly aware that this happens in middle school and high school, but I guess my elementary school years did not reflect that kids made fun of one another for their choice (or their parents' choice) in clothing. I don't want my kids to be made fun of, but I want them to wear what they want to wear--to express themselves how they want to express themselves and not however their peers (or their peers' parents) feel is socially acceptable. And I want them to understand the consequences of these choices--that they may be unfairly judged, made fun of, isolated. I never want them to feel the pain that goes along with these consequences, but I just want them to be deliberate in their choices and confident in themselves. Maybe this all sounds a bit rosy. I was a free-spirited child and it was often reflected in my clothing choices, for which I was ridiculed by both peers and adults, but I learned a lot from this, and it has made me into a more confident adult. I want my kids to be confident adults.

Nate and I are still at an impasse about the tiger shirt. Damn tiger shirt--I should've left it on the rack. Because I respect my husband, I'll leave the tiger shirt in the closet until we can reach a decision that we can both live with...or maybe I'll just keep the tiger shirt for myself.

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