My four year old suffered my scheduling error and had to sit at the hair salon while I got my hair cut and enhanced to a brighter, browner shade of young during a teacher in-service day.
He sat quietly in the waiting area watching DVDs while his headphones blocked out the sounds of hair dryers and gossip. After my transformation from hot mess housewife to cocktail party it-girl (from the back of my head, anyway), I took Levi to the bookstore to reward him for good behavior.
I’m not the kind of person who enjoys shopping no matter where I am or what I’m trying to procure.
I’m a make-a-list, go-to-store, purchase item(s) and get-out-fast kind of girl. Actually, I prefer buying as much as I can online to avoid the shopping experience entirely. If I have to spend more the 15 minutes perusing or trying on or comparing prices, I break out in a sweat and often times leave a shop without having purchased anything.
The display of children’s books was spectacularly overwhelming, and I fought the urge to skip the bookstore and take Levi to a bakery, instead.
There were shelves upon shelves of children’s books, and Levi and I walked through the maze of tables displaying the most recently published books. I felt a little dizzy trying to absorb our choices. Finally, I stopped in front of a book with a beautiful cover. I flipped through the pages enough to establish that the story was fun and age-appropriate. Furthermore, the illustrations were gorgeous. I am a sucker for editorial art in children’s books.
I was just about to present the book to Levi when I heard him say, “THIS ONE! THIS ONE! Can I have this book pleeeeaase?”
I tucked my choice under my arm and met him at the table where he had parked himself. “This one?” I asked and picked up Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. “YES!” he said, “It’s so shiny!!”
And it was.
“Wow,” I thought to myself. “This is definitely an eye-catcher.” On the cover of this oversized book was an illustration of a little girl in a bright pink dress sporting a crown topped with hearts and peppermints. She was waving a magic wand under a title doused with silver glitter. The gold star on top of the wand, the bright pink dress and the very sparkles popped against a matted silver background. I couldn’t blame him for selecting such a magical looking book.
The inside flap informed me that this was a story about a girl named Pinkalicious who loses a tooth and writes to the Tooth Fairy with her “pinktastic pen” after losing her ability to taste anything sweet.
Now, I’m sure most of you would agree that we live in a fairly progressive community where it is normal to challenge gender stereotypes. No one would call DYFS if a boy showed up to school with pink toenails much to the chagrin of those commentators who berated J Crew’s president and creative director Jenna Lyons for painting her son Beckett’s toenails pink for a J Crew ad.
And I’m sure no one would blink if my son chose a pink and glittery book about a girl and her correspondence with the tooth fairy.
But I confess that I considered offering different options like, Shark vs. Train or Hot Rod Hamster. I imagined myself taking the book from him and pointing to the door shouting, “Look over there, Levi! Is that a flying hippopotamus?” And then I’d hide it behind a stack of books. But I didn’t.
Instead I surrendered. “Let me see, Levi,” I said and leafed through the pages only to learn that in the book, Pinkalicious corresponds with Cupid, the Easter Bunny and a Christmas Elf before she finally hears from the Tooth Fairy. Oy vey! I suddenly looked up for video cameras. But who could have convinced my four-year-old Jewish man-child to pick up a girlie book for gentiles just to capture my horror on film?
I realized this was no set up.
This was a test, but there was no one else judging the results besides me. Could I get over myself and just get the kid the book that he selected? Even if the packaging sirens at Harper Collins seduced him, I did tell him it was his choice. Was I not equally as guilty of occasionally buying hand soap or wine or even books based on packaging alone?
I cursed the publishers for their savvy marketing ways, and bought Silverlicious for Levi.
So, yes. I’m looking for a pat on the back for allowing my child to select his own book without interference AND reading it to him with enthusiasm AND not skipping a single page referring to Christmas or Easter. It’s a sweet book about being sweet, I’ll admit, but next time he’s due a reward, I’m buying him a cookie and shopping for a book online.