Please note the following blog is not intended to offend, or in any way make light of people groups, customs, fashion or personal style. Growing up and currently living in middle/upper class America has given me strong opinions about tact, class, attitudes, behaviors and yes even dress. Having said that if you think you may be offended, you should close out of this post and move on to another... maybe even outside of my blog.
We are in a dangerous teenage situation at the orphanage. We have a dwarf with an identity crisis. Grumpy comes from the backwoods, has been to the high woods and lives in middle America, but embraces the ghetto. Why you ask should he be confused about who he is? Well in addition to the redneck heritage, and the rugged outdoors mans life he has been living for the past two years, he feels that somehow God has made a mistake in creating him. Being bounced from his biological home to foster homes to our home indeed caused him to feel a bit unsettled I am sure! However the lingering question that remains each time our clearly Caucasian son throws on his lid, and sports his too cool sunglasses, wearing his pants slouched down, and refuses to put on a shirt, because he is showing off his "12" pack, is, "how did he/we get to this place". (Yes fellow readers, this is not a typo, he thinks he's got him a 12 pack. You know that's a real thing.. because even as tried and true exercise fanatics have indicated that after 6 months of P90X they only own a four pack, Grumpy is not deterred.) I will agree as his mother, that he has slimmed down and has a great head start on most boys his age in the area of being a physically fit male specimen, however he doesn't need to show that much skin. No one wants to see that... not in my home, nor in middle class America. When a shirt is adorned, it is preferred that it sport a cool logo like under armour or another equally high end expensive name brand. (and while I am not opposed to high end clothing) I am opposed to wearing a white shirt with stains out in public because of it's brand/logo. But the dwarf insists that my rules about wearing clean, non tattered clothing is stupid. He should be able to wear what he wants when he wants. (Me think that is a backwoods mentality.)
Yes there are some struggles of power going on here. A power pull between myself, the momma of many, and in this case, my dwarf that is trying to find himself. I am not willing to let my dwarfs look like they come from a real orphanage. I want them to know that one should always go out putting their best foot forward. I want my dwarfs to all claim their own sense of fashion, find the style that is comfortable to them, however being a poser, is not a road that I want to see them go down. Many a conversation have been had regarding being one thing, and trying to look and act like something that you are not, and how that will end with you not having any friends on either side, because you are pretending to be what you are not. I am sure this conversation is falling on deaf dwarf like ears.
Okay fast forward to today. Grumpy is torn, in his heart of hearts he is a very white boy, from the back woods that, to coin a country song, wants to "chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco - spit" So today's first adventure was wrestling with his inner redneck. He is chewing his grape Big League Chewing gum. Of course his mouth is stuffed full, too full in my opinion, but he wants the budging cheek... while traveling 65 across the river today, he figures that spitting is a fine way to get rid of the gum he is chewing that has lost it's flavor. So he just hauls off and sucks in a big breath and spits out the window. Lucky for him he clearly has had practice at this maneuver. If Dopey had done this, we would still be picking the wad out of his hair. Now in disgust, I react to his stupid move, by asking him "what the heck do you think you are doing?" "Getting rid of my gum" comes the response in a voice that clearly indicates he thinks I am an idiot. Well I say," did you not see me get rid of my gum less than 5 minutes ago?" "Yes", he says. I ask him how I did it. He reports that I searched for piece of trash paper to wrap it in then stuck it in the trash bag in the car. So I respond, with a question that I thought was fair, "why did you think littering, spitting your gum outside in the wind was a great idea?" As if I am stupid he looks at me and says, "well everyone else does it." Insert crazy raging face here...(mine of course) " EVERYONE ELSE does it? - I didn't do it less than 5 minutes ago - you should stop worrying about what you think everyone else does, and start paying attention to what we do. Emulate us, not the world, as we are trying to set you up for success. You are no longer living in the woods, you can not spit, pee, or squat where ever and when ever you want." " Mom, I don't know what the problem is, gum is bio degradable. NO son it is not, it is made of non biodegradable substances... (insert science lesson for the day here and social etiquette ) it is liter, and if you get caught littering there is a fine. If gum were biodegradable it would not be called gum, it would be called breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. If gum were degradable you would not be able to chew it for hours on end, it is made of latex and plastic... grrr...
Okay so you may be wondering what is the big deal. Well frankly spitting is gross. Am I a snob when it comes to how I view people that freely spit while walking across parking lots, YES. Do I find it socially repulsive to watch a man shoot snot from his nose instead of using a tissue or other hand held devise to blow his nose? YES. I do not feel that I should be subjected to these disgusting habits of those on the fringe of civilization that come to town on occasion. I want more for my children. I want them to be socially acceptable, well rounded, thoughtful people. Spitters and snot blowers in my opinion are not those things.
So the first struggle in Grumpy identifying himself, is part of him desires to be a redneck. A redneck wearing a lid, sporting slouchy pants, and too cool reflective sunglasses... are you starting to get a clear picture of the conflict?
Here was my biggest mistake of the day. I took Grumpy to Wall Mart ... where he was enthralled by the lid wearing, baggy pants sporting, homeboys... Some of whom I have no doubt were legitimate in their attire and were being true to their people group. Sadly, my dwarf only saw in these folks what he wanted to see, and that was a mirror reflection of whom he thinks he should be. He is sure that God has made a mistake, that he should be Hispanic or African American, and since he has spent some time in the sun this summer he claims his skin color is brown, and that gets him closer to the those that are what he wants to be. ( Replay the conversation about being true to who you are, who God made you and embracing your unique qualities instead of trying to be what you are not.) Insert eye rolling at me for even bringing this up in conversation again. Imagine me as I stroll through the store, with my hormonal 14 year old, who is clearly eavesdropping on conversations along the way, walking slowly and staring at those that he finds to really have the "look" that he wants, memorizing the angle of the lid, the way they speak to their homeys, and the slang that they use. He bumps into displays, runs over the back of my foot with the cart, giggles, points and whispers to his other brother Happy, slowly goes up behind people pretending to be engrossed in the green bean selection to catch the ring tone on their phone that are catchy rap ditty's, intensely observing the tattoos, and name brands and gold chains that adorn these men, some young, some not so much... I swear if he asks for gold jewelry for his next holiday or birthday, I am going to loose my mind.
Lesson learned today, I can not keep all the posers out of my son's life. Are we not all a little like Grumpy? Oh we may clean up on the outside to be socially accepted by society, or not. We may work hard on a regular basis to be someone that we are not. We diet and exercise to be thinner, we color our hair to take out the gray, we have surgeries to alter our appearances, we shop and wear only trendy clothing to try and fit in.... all because we struggle with who we really are. Sadly, until Grumpy (or any of us for that matter) gets comfortable in his (our) own skin, white (or tan in the summer), he(we) are going to always struggle to be something or someone that we are not.
The Prince, he claims this is typical boy stuff. I disagree, my eldest male dwarf has always been comfortable in his skin and has not to my knowledge wanted to be something that he is not. Knowing that each dwarf is different, is not much comfort in this journey as I watch him trying to find himself. Do I want him to dress in button down shirts with a tie, wearing pressed dockers with a belt, with coordinating shoes? Well, maybe for Christmas and Easter, but not as regular attire, unless he were to choose that for himself. But the struggle seems to be that in his earnest search for whom he wants to be, what his style is, he seems to be clearly steering away from what is typical and acceptable in our middle class suburbia home, almost as if on purpose excluding himself from being one of us as well.
I am trying really hard to overlook the lid and the glasses, to remind him to put on a shirt, to try not to flip out when he spits, leaves the lid up on the toilet. I am trying to be consistent in his quest to help him learn to love who he is. I try to find every opportunity to remind him that he has been created as is, no mistake, a warm, compassionate, kind hearted and handsome young man. A young man that is athletic, talented, and artistic. A young man that is growing each day in wisdom and knowledge, and a young man that has face adversity and has grown through it. I am praying each day that this is just like the Prince has indicated, "a phase, a boy thing". I suppose if it were not this it could be something else, to coin a favorite movie phrase, I guess he could "dress in drag and do the hula."
Oh, at the end of this long challenging day I say, You really can't make this stuff up.