My daughter was beyond excited to color her very own Star Wars shirt.

We found it at a local craft store and it was a perfect match.  She loves doing crafts and (of course) she loves all things Star Wars.  (Disclaimer… my 5 year old has never seen any of the movies but somehow she knows more about Star Wars than the husband and I do.)   The fact I had found something she could make and then wear; married with the fact that it was Star Wars was seriously like I had found the Holy Grail.

What was even better was she got to make her shirt with friends.  (Don’t worry, I found the perfect shirts for her buddies to color as well.)  This girl was so proud coloring and “designing” her own shirt.  Her friends who were over were so complimentary of her work too; they are two awesome boys who have their very own personalities like she does.  Yes the shirts might be two sizes too big, but that’s okay… they are their own little masterpieces to wear whenever they want.

Fast forward to today when I finally had gotten around to washing her new shirt.

I’ll admit, I was terrified I would pull it out of the washer and the colors would be gone… that would have been traumatic!!  Thankfully, those little fabric markers didn’t disappoint.  I also tried my best to shrink it in the dryer; but of course when I try to intentionally shrink something it won’t. Figures!! (If only my nice shirts wouldn’t have shrunk that one time I forgot to hang them up we would be golden!!)

So, the daughter wanted to wear her shirt today, and of course I said yes.  She put it on proudly and out of the house we went to her brother’s park district class.  She was beaming with pride, showing her brother her masterpiece on the way.  Mind you, the toddler was a little nervous looking at the “scary” figures (turns out light sabers are alarming when you’re 2), but she managed to convince him they were nice.

Things were going great until the big kids came into the hallway for their bathroom break from summer camp.

I know some big kids are jaded; they don’t understand that little kids don’t know what it’s like to be intentionally mean and to make fun of others’ clothing choices.  Of course, the kids saw her shirt and spoke quietly to each other while pointing at her.  I could feel my face turning red and my “momma bear” instinct kicking in.  Don’t make fun of her.  Don’t break her heart, I kept thinking.  I held my breath and hoped she would keep looking down at her iPad and stay oblivious to what was going on around her.

I was ready for the worst.

An older boy and his buddy kept trying to get her attention.  Ugh.  Here we go I thought.  They finally succeeded and made eye contact with her.  The one boy gave her a thumbs-up as the other boy smiled and said “Cool, Stars Wars.”  My faith in kids was restored and I felt a little embarrassed that I had been sitting there thinking the worst.

I know my tom-boy daughter is not the norm.

I know one day soon she will be coming to me in tears because someone made fun of her clothes, or of her different way of playing and thinking.  With Kindergarten only a matter of weeks away, I am super aware of the fact that I can’t keep her in my protective bubble.  I also know she will find her own tribe of friends who share the same love of superheroes, Star Wars and imaginative play that she does.  I know growing up is hard, but at least I know she will be coming home to a “safe place” where she can always be herself.  I guess that’s something I’ll need to cling to over the next few years.

Thank you to the moms of the boys we ran into today at the park district.  Clearly they were raised to be kind, sweet kids.  I am so grateful to these families I don’t even know; grateful that we made it another day in our non-jaded kid bubble.
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