“Little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.” “Boys will be boys.” …Or so go the outdated sayings. I’m raising two boys and I have never believed those stereotypes. If I am being honest, they make me physically cringe.

My oldest son has a preschool photo holding an Elsa doll because he was nervous and it made him feel better to hold it. We say, “There is no such thing as boy toys or girl toys (or clothes). There are just toys (or clothes).” And on and on go my lessons.

Then came my second son. As his personality has grown over his three years of life, we have seen how true my admonitions are. He is a very creative, unique and confident soul.

He loves Star Wars, superheroes, dinosaurs, stuffed animals, wrestling with his big brother, Taco Tuesday and he absolutely loves to wear a Vampirina dress. Vampirina is a new Disney Junior show about learning to love who you are just the way you are. Aptly, he does just that.

The other day as I got ready, he applied his own makeup. He asked me what each item was for, how to use it and then in his preschooler fashion, applied them. Turquoise eye liner around mouth. Mascara on one eye lash and around most of his face. Eyeshadow, impressively on his eyelids. A big scoop of lip balm—the kind from a tin—slathered everywhere.

“Too much?” he asked. Light pink blush on his apple cheeks.

He put on the Vampirina dress over his superhero jeans and Batman shoes. When we left the house, he still had that combination—makeup included—with a Star Wars hat and a Chewbacca bag. We walked around downtown Chicago in all his fantastic original glory.

He prefers to be called by anything except his given name. It changes weekly (and sometimes daily). Today, he is Cookie Monster. Two days ago he was Vampirina. Last month, for an entire week, we had to call him Vampirina Jack Gummy Bear King.

If you call him the wrong name he stomps his foot and corrects you. He will not answer until you correct yourself. He even asks his preschool teachers to call him by his name of the moment.

It can be hard to keep up with the name changes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I look forward to the creative name he chooses for himself. I do my best to honor this. I slip up sometimes, call him by the name I gave him when he left my body and apologize while correcting myself.

Life gets really serious really fast. There are terrible and confusing things happening every day. I enjoy being a part of his magical childhood. It is a small oasis from adult worries.

His eyes sparkle and shine. His smile creeps up his face, apple cheeks managing to become even rounder. I can close my eyes right now and relive the joy he exuded the first time I put the entire Vampirina costume on him. It was a Friday in January—a costume just because it made him feel good inside.

That is how we should all live our lives. The way Cookie Monster (today) lives his. Wearing a dress, jeans, sneakers, your favorite hat and bag and your makeup (or not) in whatever way makes you feel amazing—allowing ourselves to feel good inside and out by being our own unique selves.

No matter what.


Featured Photo Courtesy: Nicole VandeBoom



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