I have a lot of nephews. But this story is about one in particular.
His name is Joost (rhymes with Toast) and he has always walked to the beat of his own drum. It’s one of the things I deeply admire, respect and appreciate about him.
For instance, for his 8th or 9th birthday, I bought him a hot pink, gold glitter dinosaur that I stumbled upon in a high-end design store. It screamed JOOST to me because his favorite color, for as long as I can remember, is hot pink. And I knew he’d be down with the glitter too, thanks in large part to my sister’s influence (his mom) who has always parented from a gender-neutral perspective, often painting her 3 boys nails in all sorts of colors, glitter included, and teaching them that ALL colors are for everyone. Way to go, Sis!
Anyway, sure enough he loved the hot pink, golden glitter dinosaur. (I love this kid!)
But why should any of this matter to you?
Because Joost embodies authenticity. He wears bow ties and buttons his shirt all the way up to his neck. And he freaking rocks this look. Some kids would look awkward and uncomfortable. Not Joost, because it’s his style. He embodies who he is. And we all need role models like that.
So here’s the main story I want to share.
Joost started middle school (6th grade) in September, and was having some problems with some boys that were, let’s just say, not being as kind as they could be. In December, Joost got a new pair of red Moon Boots and could not wait to wear them around… everywhere.
In fact, he insisted on wearing them to school the very next day, despite the fact that it was nowhere near cold enough to be wearing Moon Boots yet (he lives just outside New York City).
My sis told him, You might be hot in your new boots, maybe you’d be more comfortable in your sneakers? To which he replied, I feel like I’m walking on a cloud. Why would I wear my sneakers?
Duh, mom! Right? (Kids are the best.)
So my sister called me, worried. What if he gets made fun of? What if people laugh? What if people try to take away his joy? All the normal worries we have as parents. As much as she tried to convince him not to wear them because of the heat, he was insistent and excited (and rightfully so…who wouldn’t want to walk on a cloud?).
And off he went. Her heart felt heavy. Her voice, teary.
I texted her at the end of the day to find out how it went.
To our delighted surprise, everyone LOVED Joost’s Moon Boots. Kids lined up to try them on! Joost even declared to his mom at the end of the day, Phew, I’m glad I’m not popular as I wouldn’t like having all of that attention all the time. That was exhausting!
Joost. A boy true to himself, his style, his own authenticity.
And his commitment to being himself helped elucidate for me how often we hide or play small or deny ourselves (and our children) what we really want (or they want) out of fear; fear of ridicule, fear of pain, fear of not being liked or cool or appreciated.
Yes, in this scenario the Moon Boots were a hit. I’d probably be writing a different kind of blog if they weren’t.
But for today, with this beautiful story, may we be reminded to be ourselves, truly and completely.
Because we just never know what will happen, do we? Especially when we share our joy with the world.
Joost shared his joy and love for his Moon Boots just by wearing them to school on a regular day when sneakers would have been more appropriate.
People love joy. F*ck appropriate!