"Well, he's all boy!" That's what I've heard from friends, relatives, and strangers for the past four years. My son farts and then laughs hysterically, bangs his head into walls on purpose, streaks through the house naked... giggling as he watches his "parts" flopping around, digs in his butt for goodness-knows-what, snorts like a pig and thinks it's brilliant, punches himself in the head to make his little sister laugh and, well, you get the idea. When most people who have children witness these behaviors, they simply nod and smile, and say, "Well, he's all boy, isn't he!" People who do not have children generally look at me with distaste, as if I have produced some type of spawn that isn't entirely human and shouldn't be running about freely.
Recently, however, my darling child has begun manifesting some behaviors that garner a completely different reaction. He will often violently protest if we don't let him pair a particular shirt with a certain pair of socks, and he is constantly complimenting girls on their attire, especially if said attire is covered in flowers or butterflies, which he finds particularly flattering. This has made him quite popular among the ladies, by the way. And, as he is more than a little precocious, he has taken this positive feedback to mean that he has an extensive knowledge of fashion.
So, he was over the moon when I asked him if he'd like to come out with me to run some errands -- one of them being selecting a dress to wear to an upcoming wedding. He proudly climbed into our minivan, ready to take on the role of personal stylist.
At the store, he watched me try on dress after dress, furrowing his brow and saying things like, "Now twirl, Mommy, so the dress poofs out. It doesn't poof out enough -- you shouldn't get that one." He took his role very seriously, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy huddling in the little fitting room with me while I tried on dress after dress.
Shortly after making our selection, we were passing racks of clothing when Evan stopped in the "missy" department and excitedly snatched up a black shirt emblazoned with gold sparkly lettering that read "NICE AND NAUGHTY." He proudly announced that he had picked it out for Daddy. I tried to tell him that Daddy wouldn't like it, but he insisted. It was only when I proved that the shirt would be too small for Daddy that Evan relented and let me return it to the rack.
We then stopped in the purse department to do a quick walk-through. I had recently ordered a purse online, but I had made the amateur mistake of failing to pay attention to the measurements listed, and when it arrived I was distressed to find that it was roughly the size of a small carry-on suitcase. Now I go out to run errands looking like I'm prepared to invade a small country. I told Evan that I needed a smaller purse and invited him to help me join the search.
He immediately ran over to a display and selected a black clutch that had a shoulder-strap attached, holding it out to me like a prize. Unfortunately this prize was covered in huge fake rhinestones, and it gave the effect of having been viciously attacked by a drunk person wielding a Bedazzler. I scowled at it, to which Evan responded by slinging the bag over his shoulder, smiling and strutting up and down the aisles to demonstrate how pretty the purse was, and to give me an idea of what the handbag would look like "in action." He was extremely disappointed when I told him I wouldn't be buying it.
Then I spotted a purse that was just the right size. It was by Guess, and it was on final clearance for $22.95! Twenty-three bucks for a Guess handbag? I'm IN!! I picked it up and examined it to see if it would do. Now it was Evan's turn to scowl. "Mommy," he informed me solemnly, "That purse isn't a nice color. Don't buy it." It was true -- the purse was an odd color that could be best described as "puce." "But honey, it's on sale!" I tried to reason with him. "No, Mommy, it's not pretty," Evan insisted. I had to finally concede that he was right; no puce purse for me.
Evan then found a very small wristlet that was made out of a similar fabric as an old purse of mine (a purse one of my friends had scathingly referred to as my "dead crocodile bag"). He held it up proudly and announced, "Mommy, this purse looks like your old one, so you should like it, right? Mommy, you should buy this one!" It was teeny tiny, and I told him that, unfortunately, it wouldn't really hold much, so I couldn't really use it. He then proceeded to cry. "But I really want you to buy it. It's really pretty," he whined. "I'm sorry, Evan, but it's just too small," I replied. He began to sob. I was now getting funny looks from the passersby, who didn't know what to make of a distraught four-year-old boy in the purse department who was crying over a faux-croc wristlet by XOXO. This was awkward, and I put the purse back on the rack and tried to usher him to a different aisle. At this point he screamed "No! That's NOT where it goes!" I had mistakenly put the purse one rung higher than its mates, and Evan was having none of it. He gingerly took the wristlet from where I had hung it and gently placed it with the rest of its kind, and then he sorrowfully followed me to the checkout so we could purchase my dress.
There was candy at the checkout, and the mere sight of it caused Evan to cheer up. He spotted a set of lollipop vampire teeth and begged frantically for them, and I caved and bought them, vowing to brush his teeth like a maniac before bed. We then stopped at the grocery store, where Evan thought it was just the coolest thing to stand in the cart amongst the produce, lean forward, bare his fangs, make a nasty face and shout "Aaaargh!" at all of the customers we passed. "Ahhh... he's such a boy!" said one mom with a knowing smile. I had to chuckle.
Before bed, my husband gave Evan a bath. Afterward, I heard shrieking and crying coming from the bathroom, and my husband was nowhere in sight. When Evan wails so horribly that he sounds like a wolf baying at the moon, I know he's really distraught. I went in to find out what all the crying was about, and Evan replied, "Daddy messed up my hair! I was combing it and he rubbed it with a towel and messed it up!" I sighed and left my son to primp in front of the mirror. Ten minutes later he strutted into my bedroom, still completely naked, cocked his hip and posed and said, "Mommy, doesn't my hair look pretty?" "Yes, Evan, it does," I replied. Evan said, "Tomorrow, when I go to school, all my friends will tell me how pretty my hair is." He smiled with delight, hopped down the hall to his room, and put on his pajamas.
I adore my son. Ultimately, whether he loves football or fairies, soccer or spas, I will adore him equally and unconditionally regardless. I watch all of his behaviors with a mixture of amusement and love, and a little bewilderment. But what I don't understand is this: why would someone who spends ten minutes in front of the bathroom mirror, combing his hair into perfection, insist upon being photographed looking like this?