When the conservative pundits started aiming barbs at J.Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons for painting son Beckett's toenails pink, we got angry on her behalf. How dare people sully something as beautiful as a mother/son bonding time with baseless accusations that she's warping him and/or trying to force a gender transition? It turns out Jenna had a better response to the idiocy.
Speaking out for the first time on what she dubbed "Toemaggedon," Lyons said she let her son laugh it off:
What’s so funny is he was in the room when the Toemageddon thing was reported and he’s just like, "Look, Mommy, it’s me on TV." In the end, it was fun.
Oh, I see what she did there! My hat is once again off to Ms. Lyons. She let her kid smile and LAUGH at people making a big ado out of something so normal to him. She didn't let the insanity sneak into her son's life.
We could all learn something from this moment as parents. It can be hard to explain to our kids why other families do things differently, but harder still is explaining why other families have a problem with your personal choices. As an adult, we have to learn to grin and bear it, but it's not that easy for kids. They want to know, "If so and so says that's wrong, are they lying to me?"
That's the big question in our house lately. At 5, we've been dealing a lot with truth-telling in our house. So when someone disagrees with us, that's the first question. If we're right, then they must be wrong. They must be lying.
Usually, the issues aren't as black and white -- or, well, pink -- as the case of little Beckett. There's no question people made a mountain out of a bottle of polish. And no, she WASN'T turning him "trans" or warping him at all. People were, in essence, lying. But you can't ascribe that same simplistic "yes" or "no" when your kid comes home asking why your family doesn't go to church when other kids in their class do or why you're a vegetarian and other moms aren't.
You need to explain differences, talk about equal opportunity, stress that what enriches a community is the ability to embrace variety. But at the end of all of it, when you have a little kid, you need to reassure them that things are OK. A long, convoluted description of gender politics or animal rights isn't going to do that.
Making them laugh will. So explain it to them, in age-appropriate details. That's important. But take a page out of Jenna Lyons' book: make it fun. Put it back on good terms. If nothing else, have a good giggle over a pedicure. It worked for the Lyons family.
How do you deal with your child coming to you when someone criticizes your family's choices? Any good tips?
Image via J.Crew