As a mother, it is my duty to make carefully thought out choices about how I want to raise my children, and then spend the rest of my life agonizing about whether or not they were right. If I were to list out every single one of those decisions, I have no doubts that there would be an infinite number of people who would tell me that I was wrong. Do I care what my family and friends think? Most likely. How about the opinions of strangers? Not so much. If one of those strangers confronted me in public in front of my child, would I defend myself? Hell, yes.
This is the scenario Haylee Bazen found herself in, while standing at a bus stop with her 3-year-old son, Zackary, who was wearing a Queen Elsa dress from the movie Frozen paired with a stylish cape to match. At the time, the two were discussing Disney princesses, with Zachary proudly stating that his favorite was Snow White.
Enter total stranger, who decided it was her duty to interrupt the mother and son conversation to interject that she “didn’t like how he was dressed” or approve of their discussion topic, while simultaneously giving “disapproving stares.”
Haylee, understandably upset about the situation, used it as an opportunity to remind nosy bystanders everywhere to “mind their own business” as well as break down barriers of gender stereotypes by penning an open letter and publishing it on her Facebook page on May 21.
“Zackary is my 3-year-old son and he can be who he wants to be,” she wrote. “Today he was a Disney princess and YES I did send him to school like that. Why??? [Because] that’s what he wanted to wear, because he wanted to show his teachers and friends his Elsa dress, because he wanted to sing ‘Let It Go’ for show and tell, because he doesn’t understand the gender stereotypes YOU think he should conform to, but most importantly because he is awesome!!”
Haylee has made a choice to let her son dress like “a princess or cowboy” and play with whatever toys he wants— whether that means riding a scooter or pushing a pram. Unlike the troll at the bus stop, I happen to think that’s awesome — and it appears the Facebook community agrees, as the post has garnered 155k likes and nearly 15k shares. As Haylee states, we should let our children be who they want to be and shouldn’t superimpose outdated societal norms onto them.
However, it really doesn’t matter whether I think Zackary should be dressed up as Lightening McQueen from Cars or wearing a monkey suit or a tutu, because I am not his mother, and unless his mother asks for my opinion, it just isn’t my business.
Just like it isn’t your business if my son’s hair is super long and “he looks like a girl.” I don’t care if you think he needs a haircut. If I wanted him to have short hair, I would have taken him to the barber and gotten it cut short.
Haylee, just like myself, is doing the best she can and making the decisions she thinks are right for her child. And seeing as she created that child and has spent the last three years keeping him alive, she has every right to do so without any unsolicited “advice” from an ignorant person she has never seen before — and hopefully will never encounter again!
She concludes her letter by telling the stranger:
“So next time you see us, dressed as a princess or cowboy, keep [your] disapproving stares to yourself and unless you want to tell him how great he looks keep your poisonous words to yourself too. [You’re] the one that should be embarrassed to leave the house not us!!”
Just like my kindergarten teacher taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
h/t: Scary Mommy