About 8 or 9 months ago, RJ came across my long strand of faux pearls. He immediately put it around his neck. Which surprised me, because I didn’t think he even knew what necklaces were for. When he first started wearing it, he couldn’t quite put it on right and usually it would just end up draped around him. Now, he usually manages to get it over his head in order to wear it like a proper necklace, but the thing is so dang long it drags on the ground and he trips on it. Like a so:
The pearl necklace quickly became a favorite toy of his and since I never wear it anymore, I let him keep it with his stuff. It will often be forgotten in some deep, dark, toy-bin hole for long periods of time only to be discovered again later. Each time it’s re-discovered RJ becomes obsessed with it all over again for a few days and likes to wear it constantly, until eventually its novelty wears off again and it gets buried amongst all his crap.
Well, this week, the pearl necklace was discovered again, after a pretty long hiatus. He’s been wearing it around the house a lot, and yesterday as we were leaving the house to go on a walk with his pushy-bike, he was still wearing it, as well as clutching his blanky (Mimi). I have a firm rule against taking Mimi out of the house, because that thing gets gross enough indoors and I don’t need RJ dropping it in some dog poo at the park and then stuffing it in his mouth when he goes down for his nap. I told him we’d leave Mimi here and we should probably leave his pearls here too, so they don’t get caught under the bike’s tire and choke him. He readily said “bye-bye” to Mimi but shrieked when I tried to remove his precious pearls. So instead, I doubled them up around his neck, to make the situation a little less hazardous, and we went for our walk.
As I pushed him out the door, I started thinking about some of the pieces I’ve read in the Huffington Post or similar, about moms taking their little boys out with their favorite pink clothing item or sparkly, flowery headbands and the disturbing or surprising things that strangers did in reaction. Visions started flashing through my head of some ignorant asshole calling my son a “sissy” and me going all protective mommy-hen on this unsuspecting stranger and kicking him in the balls. Or ya know…. saying something smart and cutting, instead, because violence is never the answer. But then I laughed at myself because A. we live in the Bay Area and people are pretty tolerant and open-minded around here and B. my son is not even 2 years old and I don’t think anyone really gives a crap if he’s wearing a pearl necklace or not. Oh and C. When it comes to “fight or flight” I’m really more a of a “stand there in shock, thinking really hard about what to do next” type of person so I doubt that sassy comebacks or ball-kicking would be any part of my reaction.
Anyway, the point is, the only thing I expected to hear from the strangers we’d cross paths with, was “Aww, he’s wearing a necklace! How cute!”
We were out and about for at least an hour. Most people didn’t care about or even notice RJ’s necklace, as I suspected. But surprisingly, one man did stop and take a minute out of his day to ask me about it. He was in his mid-forties maybe. He was just getting on his bike and putting his helmet on as we were passing him by.
Him: Is that your necklace that your son is wearing?
Him: So it’s your necklace, but he wears it?
Me: Yes, he loves it, so I let him wear it.
Him: He’s only 1 year old or whatever and he likes wearing a pearl necklace?
Me: Yes……. (waiting, wondering what he’s getting at)
Him: Hmm. Okay. Well, have a good day.
Ok, so maybe this wasn’t the exciting drama I’d originally had flashing through my highly-imaginative mind as we left the house, but it was still much more of an exchange than I’d anticipated. No judgment on the man’s part was explicitly expressed and no harsh words or looks were exchanged. But it stood out to me nonetheless as sort of weird and off-putting. I’d have to really read between the lines to infer anything though. So is this worth getting all huffy about? Probably not. Was it even worth a blog post on my humble, little, barely-read mommy blog? Probably not.
When I got home, I tried to look up the huffpost article I’d seen about the kid wearing a sparkly headband at Walmart and getting called a derogatory name. To my surprise, the whole thing is gone and all I found was a buzzfeed explaining that the woman who wrote it was now in a mental institution after expressing suicidal thoughts and huffpost took her article down after some speculation that it may not have been entirely based on true events.
Of course, this all happened over a year ago and was old news. And now I just needed to know the whole story and to try figure out if this mommy blogger really made the whole thing up and was then committed as insane. This evening I did some sleuthing (Ok, I just went to the woman’s blog, I guess that doesn’t count as sleuthing. But it took me forever to scroll back to August 2013, so it felt like a real effort, ok?) I read through the posts she’d written in the aftermath of her post about her son and the headband, and holy hell! One little blog post turned this poor woman’s life upside down! She had threats made against her and her family and had to relocate waiting for the attention to die down. And of course her version of events was entirely different (and probably more true, I’m inclined to believe) than those on the buzzfeed and the awful thread of comments I’d read thereafter.
I officially feel grateful that no one called my son a name for his necklace-wearing when we were out yesterday. Not just for the greater things that says about the people in our community, but also because then I’d have MATERIAL for my BLOG to go VIRAL and all POLITICAL and my life could be TURNING UPSIDE-DOWN with CRAZY-AWFUL right now. So thanks 40-year-old-man-on-a-bike, wherever you are, for not expressing your awful thoughts, that you may or may not have been thinking in the first place (but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t), when you asked me those questions yesterday. Annnnnnd I’ll just keep blogging about my cute baby and my reproductive life.