This I Believe

Gillian - Southlake, Texas
Entered on April 16, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe … in my Caped Crusader

My son’s elementary school recently held their annual second grade musical. The students were to wear capes. Being the mother of two boys who each went through a superhero stage, we had drawers full of capes. My son dug through them and chose a long black one, circa Darth Vader Episode IV. Cape case closed — or so I thought.

Homeroom Mom began sending e-mails: “If you need a cape, we have purchased burgundy capes at cost. They are four dollars.” And, “Just a reminder, we have capes if you need one.” A few days later another e-mail, “Your son is the only one in our class not buying a burgundy cape. We asked him about it but he said he already had one at home. Just wanted to let you know.” Hmmm… I was confused. What was the issue? Did they need my four dollars? Did they really care if the cafeteria stage wasn’t awash in a perfect sea of burgundy satin? Whose musical was this anyway? And had I missed the memo that it was going to be nationally televised? Worst of all, was I now on some sort of “Uncooperative Parent” list?

I was even more shocked by my husband’s response. “Buy him a cape,” he said. “He can’t be the only one with a black cape.” I explained to him that he wanted to wear his black cape. “Buy the burgundy cape and give him the choice again,” he responded. But I already had given him the choice. So had Homeroom Mom. What message would I be sending if I bought the cape he said he didn’t want and asked him yet again? That what he wanted was wrong? That he was incapable of making his own decision?

What I did do was wait until the night before the musical and pull out the black cape and a red cape, as close to burgundy as we had. I asked my son nonchalantly, “So what did you decide again, the black cape or a red one?” “Black,” he replied, “too many people are going to wear red.” My chest swelled. A true non-conformist. Black list be-damned — I was sticking by my son.

Musical night came and went. One hundred and ten second graders sang about who-even-remembers-what. Three children stood in non-burgundy capes. My son was one of them.

This was a small moment, perhaps silly on the surface. But in this small moment, I let my son make his own decision, and in doing so I made an important one too. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent. My son showed me he doesn’t need a helicopter. He can fly just fine in a cape — especially one he has chosen all by himself.