When I became the mother of a boy and then the mother of another boy, it became clear that my life would be full of certain things. I was entering a world of fart jokes and toilet humor. I would have to enforce boundaries regarding insects and worms living outside our home. I would utter the phrases “lift the lid” and “ wash your hands” daily. I was going to need a lot of patience and a lot of band-aids.
But I also knew there were things I wouldn’t have to deal with. There is almost nothing pink or sparkly in my house. There are no Barbies, no Hello Kitty accessories, and absolutely nothing with Hannah Montana on it. My husband has not purchased a shotgun in preparation for a first date. All feminine hygiene products belong to me. And I figured insecurities about appearance and body image were minefields that only parents of girls had to explore. I was wrong about that one. A couple of weeks ago, while I was putting James to bed he said, “I hate my freckles.” His freckles. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that boy’s freckles? It would be like a hot fudge sundae saying, “I hate my whipped cream”. I told him about the book Freckle Juice by Judy Blume. It’s the story of a boy who is so envious of a classmates freckles that he pays an exorbitant sum for a recipe guaranteed to produce freckles. Unfortunately the only thing the recipe yields is a bellyache. James and I had a good laugh about the story, I congratulated myself on remembering a book I read in third grade and he went to bed. I figured that was the end of it.
Yesterday, while we were waiting for Owen’s bus to arrive, James said it again, “I hate my freckles.” I went on and on about how I loved his freckles and how they make him even cuter [by the way, I learned that seven-year-old boys don’t like to be called cute ]. I reminded him that Owen and Daddy have freckles like his and they are so handsome. I reminded him that his teacher whom he adores has lots of freckles. But he is convinced his freckles are ugly. Apparently someone at school has been calling him “freckle face”. I’d really love to kick some second grade butt, you know that? Why is it, we can love them, nurture them, build them up and some kid can come along and tear it all down? I know kids can be mean and every kid gets picked on for something. I know. I was the short girl whose name in Pig Latin was Icky-vay Ratt-pay. This isn’t a case of bullying. It’s garden variety teasing. But it hurts and it’s making him dislike a part of himself and that stinks. What do you do when your kids get teased?