The Wig Dilemma of 2013

I always love hearing from y’all, and many of us have swapped stories off blog. But every once in a while, I think, “everybody’s going to want to hear this!” This is one such story, continuing our Halloween theme, from reader SD. A great essay, and I thank her for “outing” some of the inner dialog and perhaps less altruistic feelings many of us parents have. Enjoy!

Hi! I sent you a story about this time last year about my son, who was laughed at the first time he “went public” donned as a princess at a Halloween party with my husband’s colleagues. A year has passed, and my son, now 5 1/2, is still very much into all things pink and princess-related. Despite the fact that my family and I continue to grow and become stronger in our resolve to support our youngest member, I still find myself in new, unpredictable, and challenging situations. So I write to you today about the “Wig Dilemma of 2013.”

I took my 3 sons on our annual trip to the costume store to pick out their Halloween attire. In my mind, I had a price limit for each (costumes are expensive!). My oldest son had purchased a mask with his own money, so I was able to get him the rest of the costume and stay within budget. My middle son already had all of the elements for his costume from previous years, but needed shoes. I was able to find what he needed at Payless for a steal. My youngest sofiason spied a lovely purple Sofia the First gown and was instantly in love. The dress itself was at the budgetary limit…but what he wanted even more was the “amulet” (the necklace that gives Sofia special powers). It was *only* $6, so I bought that too. (If you are keeping score, I was already over budget at this point.). He asked if I would buy him a wig as well, and I said no, explaining that it cost too much. (and conveniently, they didn’t have any Sofia wigs at the costume store anyway).  He didn’t argue; he was just so thrilled to have his gown and amulet.

In the days that followed, my son wore his dress around the house quite a bit. He wore the amulet from the time he woke up until he went to bed most days. I was enjoying the sense of relief we moms feel when, by early October, the Halloween costumes are all ready to go!

Then I started thinking more…about the wig. You see, my son probably would have been perfectly happy with just his gown and amulet. After all, I said “no” to the wig, and he didn’t even argue! But I started to consider how my other two sons and my husband would feel when we went trick-or treating.  The fact is, if he wears a wig, he can pass for a girl and there will be no questions, no comments, no laughter. I won’t have to worry about his brothers being embarrassed or worse, him having his feelings hurt by cruel comments (whether intentional or not). I slept on this and deliberated with myself for days, and ultimately, I bought the wig.

As I mentioned, the wig wasn’t available in stores, so I had to order it online. When it arrived in the mail, I was overcome with simultaneous feelings of relief and guilt. I was relieved that I could take my kids out trick-or-treating without having a knot in my stomach. I felt guilty because I had a very good reason for NOT buying the wig to begin with, and then I caved…and not because of a nagging child, but because of my own insecurities. I have justified it again and again, that I did it for my son, so he won’t risk having his feelings hurt. And I did it for my older sons, so they won’t be embarrassed. But if I’m being really honest with myself, I did it for me, so that I won’t have to risk having MY feelings hurt or feel embarrassed, or WORSE, experience the pain and helplessness that mothers feel when their kids are hurt and embarrassed.

 I pride myself on being an advocate for my children. My son does not hide his preferences for “girl” things from anyone, and he is supported and accepted by really everyone we know. But this wig experience has really left me tangled inside (pun intended!). I suppose it has taught me that despite being enlightened and well-intended, I am only human…and sometimes the price of being human is $12.99 plus shipping.


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7 Responses to The Wig Dilemma of 2013

  1. Jane says:

    Don’t beat yourself up. We had the precise issue last year, when our son went as a wigged princess. My partner was hesitant to take him to the home of the set of neighbors we actually know and care about, but my opinion was, so what?? Halloween is the ONE day/night he gets to dress up and not be looked at as off. (Of course, I was the one staying home handing out candy but I did volunteer to take him to that particular neighbors’ home.) In the end, it was all good. I’m not really sure what happened at the neighbors’, but I know he got some compliments at other houses. (Unknown if they realized he was a boy.)

  2. Cindy says:

    My son is 7. Every year he’s been a super hero. I believe he chooses this out of character choice because he already “disciplined” himself that this is socially acceptable. Which is sad. However, when I see him run by with a red cape flying in the air and Robin, boy wonder, tights, I secretly know this costume has satisfied his flashiness within this “box”.

  3. Danyail says:

    You are incredibly strong to put his needs, likes and loves first. No reason to second guess yourself, I am sure you made his Halloween!

  4. Nice article. I just wrote a piece after yet another person commented on my son wearing pink.

  5. Ralph says:

    Some time after I had a small chat with my kids (at the time in their early teens) explaining that I didn’t always buy my clothes from the men’s side of the store but no, it did not mean I’m gay, I started thinking about what life lessons I had picked up that I could pass along to them about being different.

    What I told them was something like this (it’s been over 10 years, so I’m paraphrasing here)… Being different is great. It makes you an interesting person, sets you apart from the crowd, gets you attention when there is so much competition to be noticed. If you find that you have a hobby or a personality trait that makes you different, embrace it! Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s wrong.

    And yet… it can also be a painful struggle. The more different you are outside of the stupid arbitrary boundaries society sets as “normal”, the less likely it is that people around you will accept it. So, you have to choose your battles. Is this important enough for you to defend in public when you are at risk of losing friends who can’t understand? At risk of constant mocking by people you have to go to school/work/whatever with day in and day out? At risk of physical attack?

    For me, sometimes the answer is no. My friends and neighbors SHOULD accept me as I am… but they have so many biases and so much hostility built on ignorance, I just don’t have it in me to fight that fight — particularly since I’m in a small, rural, conservative town and once it’s out, people who love me and accept me will know right alongside people who think I’m a freak and want to kill me. So that side of me stays indoors. Oh, they still see that I’m very different — but in a safer, non-boundary-threatening way. I’m the guy who plays geeky computer games and memorizes a ton of useless trivia and knows how to correct their spelling and grammar without needing to resort to a dictionary. The guy who wears funny hats and tells atrocious puns. But absolutely NOT the guy who lounges around the house in a thick beard and pretty satin gown.

    The lesson, as I explained to my kids, is that there are times when you want to let your freak flag fly, and times you want to just blend in and get on with your life with minimal interference. The challenge is learning to know which is which.

  6. Rachel says:

    I think we all struggle with our parenting decisions. IT would have been a lot easier to tell him he couldn’t wear the dress or the necklace or the wig. Baby steps.

  7. Blake says:

    Im older than this boy in this story but i wear a wig to complete my “girl” look….
    Nothing wrong in wearing a wig

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