John has been marching to his own drummer lately, and on Wednesday the marching band tried to run him down.
He has thick, curly, coarse bright-blond hair. It is gorgeous. One day we were at the grocery store in the hair-color aisle and he saw a swatch that matched his. He was stunned with delight.
"Mom! MOM! LOOK! It's my HAIR!"
I said, "John, some people pay a lot of money to have hair that looks like yours." Bang on cue, there was a woman looking to update her color, eyeing the box in front of John. I gave John The Look, and he grinned at me, knowing, somehow, to keep his mouth shut.
The one thing his hair doesn't do is gather for a ponytail. When his hair grows out, it doesn't get long -- it gets shaggy. But now that Maia has pigtails (hair fountains, we call them, because they look like little sprays spouting out from each side of her head), John has allowed as to how he would like some as well, maybe.
On Wednesday morning he announced he would like a ponytail on the top of his head, "Like a samurai." So I gathered a handful into a three-inch-long wad and put an elastic holder on it. He was so pleased. His hair is so shaggy now most of it stands up all over anyway, and it was hard to see the ponytail, but he knew it was there.
That night, it was just the kids and I for dinner. We were indulging in pancakes with sprinkles on them when John said, "The kids laughed at me today for wearing a ponytail. They said I was a girl."
Righteous rage flared up inside me as I ran down the list of kids in his class and pulled out five likely suspects. I examined and discarded things to say. I chewed my pancake, swallowed, and said, "How did that make you feel?"
"Not very important," he said.
In my mind I scolded his class, his teachers, the director and the kids' parents. "I see you still have the ponytail in."
He frowned, as if to say, Well, YEAH. Of course I do.
I smiled, filled with love for him. "John, I see a kid here who has a lot of something. Do you know what it is?"
He thought very hard. He came up with the right answer, too. "Courage?"
I nodded. "They made fun of you, and you still did what you wanted. Sometimes that's hard."
He smiled then, and then suddenly was off describing a game he had played with two other friends. I hoped I had said the right thing. I think I did.
Today he went to school carrying Chang and a diaper bag. If kids make fun of him today, the Pre-3 classroom will get a taste of John's Scary Mama.