imaginary outfit: true colors

I can't quite remember when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I stopped having to pick out my kid's outfits. Now, at eight nearing nine, he is an inimitable dresser. He wears whatever he feels like and only what he loves, and because he doesn't really like most patterns or anything black, gray, or navy, he comes up with the best color combinations, like lavender socks and bright orange sweatpants with a red sweater. Some days, he tells me that he is dressing like the sky and earth, with green pants and a blue shirt, or like a flower, all pink and red with green socks for stems. 

It's a small labor of love to find the clothes that match his visions. The bright colors and simple shapes I could find when he was smaller are more of a challenge to source in big-kid sizes, where dull prerogatives of gender and taste are still stubbornly entrenched. And it is a joy and a delight to see that no matter what I supply him with, he always finds an unexpected way to put things together. He sees possibilities I did not know were there. 

Isn't that the point? That each generation comes along with fresh eyes that see what we've missed or chosen to overlook, that they take what we give them and experiment and discover? I don't think adults are honest, though, about what we want from the young. We tell them to change the world—but only, it seems, if it is not too inconvenient and nobody in charge ends up looking like fools or worse for the choices they've made. We tell them to speak up but don't like it when what they have to say isn't what we want to hear. They are relentlessly pressured into lives that follow old patterns, into the same compromises and accommodations. The message is to be like us, maybe a little better, but not so different that anyone's complacency is shaken, that any adult in the room has to stop and think and question. 

I don't want my kid to be like me, though. I hope as he grows, that he takes whatever I can give him and builds into something fantastic, beyond my limited imaginings. And I hope that I can keep changing, too, to be alive to whatever gets unlocked along the way, from little things like the way red and lilac and green sing together, to whatever radical futures might come into being.

Happy mother's day.