Sigh. So this is how it all ends up? A mother works diligently to raise her son to be a caring adult, a responsible contributor to society only to find him playing video games at the age of 28, shirking responsibility, and reading “lad” magazines like Maxim? Really?
While stewing about this article, this mother went shopping for little boys clothes, taking note of what exactly is available: the size 4 black ACDC shirts, the skull covered onesies, fatigues for toddlers, shirts that say “slacker” or “rebel” or "look mom no hands!"
*All of these clothes are sold in size 4 or smaller. Sources: The Gap, CWD Kids, The Gap.
After wading through these visions of masculinity, she wonders about the messages they send to the boys who are supposed to wear them. Skateboarder, sports star, rock star, military man all in navy blue, gray, black, brown. Does this limited range of images and colors reflect more limited aspirations for boys? Do they suggest that even young boys should already be cynical and wild; that they won't like school? It's as if we're pushing them to grow into the slackers which Ms. Hymowitz argues their 20-something counterparts have become.
Many of these clothes and the images seem better suited to an adolescent than to the preschoolers or first graders for which they are sized. Is our culture afraid of letting our boys be children before they grow into hip, slacker teenagers? Are we afraid of letting them be vulnerable and earnest? Is it OK for a 2 year old boy to wear his older sister’s snow suit? For a 5 year old boy to like pink? For a 9 year old boy to bring a stuffed animal to a sleep over?
Thankfully, for dressing her son, the well mannered mother can always fall back on that basic polo shirt or plain t-shirt available practically anywhere. She could also head straight to Papo d’ Anjo and dress her son in better clothes than she buys for herself. The challenging part, of course, will be enabling him to grow up at his own pace, letting her boy be a boy before he hits adolescence, and cross her fingers in the hope that her son doesn't grow up to be a case study for Ms. Hymowitz.