We are not sporty sorts of people around here. The only pair of sneakers I own have sequins on them for goodness sake. I bought my husband a pair of Vans last summer – they’re grey with white laces, and he needed them as an option to wear with linen shorts. (What can I say? He’s an elegant dude.)
When I say “sporty” I mean by the way of white athletic socks and sneakers, shiny sports-team jerseys, ball caps, basketball shorts, and the like. We don’t have any of these.
Except for a few hoodies.
Almost all of them belong to Oliver. They’re excellent for layering under thin jackets in the spring and fall, and besides which, they make for rad apparel on kids. They’re urban. They’re what all the kids are wearing. I’ll admit, I sometimes wish he’d wear that argyle sweater under a sports jacket, but he’s
mostly not that kind of kid.
This morning, Oliver stepped into a pair of black Converse, and then slipped them off again, in favour of his classic checkered Vans instead. I watched him select a hoodie from one of the coat hooks in the closet. He chose the grey one he got for his birthday. Lookin’ good.
Standing behind him, I noticed how he is a miniature version of just about every lanky teenaged kid around town. Sneakers, jeans, hoodie, backpack. The only things missing were the requisite earphones, but he can’t wear those to school. (Nor outside while playing with friends, nor while riding his bike…)
Give that kid an iced tea and a bag of Skittles, and he could be lying dead on the street of a Florida housing community. *shudders*
He is not a seventeen year old kid walking home at night, and this is not Florida, I know.
My bright, beautiful child has an awesome and funky afro. His smooth, shining skin is brown. Just as I discourage him from standing with his hands in his pockets when we’re in stores, I will always encourage hat-wearing over hood-wearing while he’s walking around town, especially as he grows older. And taller. I will teach him not to loiter. I will teach him to smile, and give a wide berth around others (especially women), when walking in unfamiliar neighbourhoods. Especially after the sun goes down.
I can only shake my head. It seems ridiculous and unfair to keep these sorts of mental notes in the recesses of my mind, and though we do our best to model fairness and equality in our home and in our lives, it’s a big world out there… I want him to be prepared. I want him to be safe. I want him to be wise.
I want him to be able to get a cab in any city in the world, at any time of day or night if he needs one.
My heart is heavy. You know what I mean?