Kieran has quickly become a full Skylanders fan after getting the Giants version for Christmas. Before actually having the game, he inherited some Skylanders t-shirts in a fantastic lot of hand-me-downs from our friend’s son. Kieran would wear them to kinder and from the reaction of the other boys, gleaned that whatever Skylanders was, it was pretty awesome.
I never loved the shirts on a purely selfish aesthetic bias. They are busy and garish and branded. Not really the type of shirt I can photograph him in. Today we were rushing around to get my brother, sister-in-law, husband and oldest daughter off to the tennis. I needed to spend the day doing some photography and required the twins as my models. In an effort to be extremely helpful, Kieran got himself dressed in one of the Skylanders t-shirts with some shorts and proudly came to show off. For a moment I thought about asking him to change his shirt, but he was so happy. He had expressed himself with his clothes…this was his five year old way of telling the world what made him tick. How could I then say that the shirt he picked was not attractive enough to be photographed? It was almost equal to saying that he, himself wasn’t worthy to be in the pictures because his outward appearance wasn’t my idea of pretty.
So I smiled and told him that he did a great job. Because he had.
After taking the others to the train, the twins and I ran some errands. In one shop we rounded a clothing rack and came face to face with another small brown haired boy in a Skylanders t-shirt running errands with his dad. What transpired over the next ten minutes was a huge life and parenting lesson for me. The two boys immediately struck up a conversation about their shared love of Skylanders and five minutes into it they were practically best friends. By the time we had to pull them apart, parent emails had been exchanged and the promise of a playdate was made.
So how do you start to categorise this world if you are five? What signals the prospect of potential friendship in a stranger on the playground? Well, you wear a t-shirt featuring your favourite stuff. Or as Clover does, you proudly pop on the hideous Barbie sun hat when going to the park. They are expressing themselves and their interests just like the goths and their black eyeliner and clothing or the hipsters on single speed bikes wearing brogues without socks.
I get it now kid. And I am really proud that you are happy with who you are.