Melanie - posted on 02/13/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )
My son is 8 years old and is taking swimming lessons through his school every week. He wears his bathing suit under his school clothes per the instruction of the teacher to save time on changing and give the kids more time in the water.
I pack him a change of underwear (as he likes to wear underwear under his bathing suit for 'comfort') so the pair he wears get wet and he needs to change afterward into a dry pair. All of the boys change in front of each other and although they are not inspecting each others undergarments, my son is very modest and afraid that the boys will get a sneak peak of his 'Spider Man' or 'Hercules' underpants or whatever comic strip character happens to be printed on his 'tighty whities' that day.
Let me preface this with the fact that my son really does love his character underpants and it's always a fun trip to the store when it's time to buy new ones.
Since the swimming lessons have started, he has come to me very concerned about the boys possibly seeing his underpants. He said that he doesn't want to be embarrassed. I asked if someone had made fun of him and he denied but said that he knows the other boys wear the 'real big boy underpants' with no pictures on them because they had a conversation about them one day at school and how the ones with pictures were for little babies.
I recall that day because he came home after school very bothered and talked to me about it. Being embarrassed because he was wearing them, he didn't chime into that conversation, just listened. My response was if he liked something he shouldn't change because his friends don't like it. He thought I was right but said he was afraid of the embarrassment. I told him it was ultimately his decision if he wanted to change to the 'real big boy underpants' but i wanted him to understand the importance of being his own person and not the person he thinks his friends want him to be.
My husband even spoke to him about it and gave him the same talk and being silly said if Spider Man underpants were made in HIS size he would still be wearing them! Although my son thought that was pretty funny, I don't think it changed his feelings much.
Things have been pretty quiet since then (about a month ago) but I occasionally ask him if he is still thinking about changing to the 'real big boy underpants' and his response is always, "maybe, I'm still thinking about it".
Then he came to me last week and asked me to show him how to wrap his towel around his waste and change discretely so the other boys wouldn't see his character underpants. I was so saddened when he asked me that but not knowing what else to do, I granted his request and helped him.
During the 'lesson' we had a repeat conversation about 'conforming'. It didn't seem to help change his feelings about the situation. And then the next day or so he decided he wanted me to go buy 'the real big boy underpants'. So I did. And when he was cleaning out his underwear drawer of all his old underpants, he actually looked sad to get rid of them. I told him he didn't have to get rid of them but he insisted.
It may not sound like a big deal to some moms but to me I feel like my son lost a part of himself that day. The part that says he is his own person. The part that says he is still a kid. This to me says that he can possibly be easily influenced and persuaded. My son has good morals, judgement and character so I shouldn't be worried, or should I?
Is this just part of growing up? Is this part of being a parent...realizing your child is not your baby anymore? Does this happen to all little boys? And if so, at what age?
I'm looking for some guidance, some comfort. Hopefully you have some stories to share or good advice I can grab onto...