My Son’s First Sports Bra

CIMG2668I was organizing library books in my four-year-old’s room while he dressed for bed the other night. I looked up from my task. He gave me an odd little smile as he unbuttoned his shirt, and I noticed something unexpected.

“You’re wearing my sports bra,” I said.

Under his blue plaid shirt he wore the black sports bra I’d hung on a towel rack in my bathroom after my walk that morning.

“Yes,” he said. He seemed to be waiting to see what I’d do.

He had it on backwards so it looked kind of like a wrestler’s singlet (if there were such a thing as a two-piece singlet). He must have nabbed it sometime during the day. I wondered how long he’d been wearing it.

“Okay,” I said. “Just make sure you put it back in my bathroom when you’re done with it.”

“Why?”

“Because I need it for my walks.” Which seemed a bit disingenuous. If I’m being honest, he probably gets nearly as much benefit from wearing my sports bra as I do. I wear it less because I need it than because it makes my strolls around the neighborhood seem more like legitimate exercise.

“Do you have other sports bras?” he asked. I considered lying to him.

“Yes,” I admitted.

“May I have one?”

“We’ll see. Let’s read some books!” I said, falling back on the parenting standards of delay and distraction.

But I wouldn’t be done with this sports bra thing so easily.

The next morning he woke up at the same time I did. He pulled my sports bra off the towel bar before I had a chance to put it on.

“May I have that?” I asked. “I need to wear it for my walk.”

“But can I have another one?” he asked as I wrestled the bra over my head. I thought about it a moment and decided that there was no harm in letting my four-year-old have one of my sports bras. Once I had my shirt on, I walked to my dresser drawer and pulled out the coral-colored sports bra I’d gotten on sale two years ago. I started to hand it to him, but reconsidered.

“Actually, I’ll give you the black one. This one is more comfortable on me,” I said.

“No, I want this one,” he said. “I like pink sports bras.”

In too far now and at a loss for any reason to deny my son the sports bra I’d promised him, I gave him the bra. He headed to his bedroom to get dressed.

That evening as he changed clothes again, I realized he’d worn that bra under his clothes all day.

“You’re taking off my sports bra,” I observed as he tugged his arms through the straps.

“It’s my sports bra,” he corrected, and he folded it and set it on his chair with the rest of his clothes for the next morning.
          

23 thoughts on “My Son’s First Sports Bra

  1. I love the style in which you wrote this, and the manner in which you handled the situation. Although it still puzzles me – why would anyone WANT to wear a bra if they didn’t have to? 😉 The time of day when I get home and strip it off is the best part of the day.

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    1. I asked him that yesterday, and he said, “Because I’ve never, ever had one before!” I pointed out that I didn’t get my first sports bra until I was at least fifteen, but he didn’t seem to think that related at all to him having one. And I suppose it really doesn’t.

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  2. I too like your simple and direct style. I have no idea how I would handle this. My sports bras are so giant that my kids couldn’t wear them until they are fully grown and even then. I let my son do all the things his sister does b/c if not, he feels left out and that’s worse than having bad nail polish. I can’t wait until the day that all this matters less in our culture.

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    1. “I can’t wait until the day that all this matters less in our culture.”

      Hear, hear! I’m looking forward to the day when my son’s going to dance class will be as accepted in our culture as my daughter’s playing soccer.

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  3. I laughed several times as I read this. I haven’t had the sports bra come up, but I’ve had nail polish and make up discussions with my sons. I hate that things come down to “you can’t because it’s for girls.” Over the summer, I gave in to my then ten-year-old. He wanted his nails painted, so I did his toenails in a light pink. (My husband flipped out a little.) Well, my younger son wanted some powder on his face, so I dabbed a little on. Didn’t tell my husband about that one 🙂

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    1. I’ve been thinking a lot about definitions of gender and how much is based in biology and how much is just dictated by culture. The more I learn (lately primarily from Lori Duron’s Raising My Rainbow and from a really great To the Best of Our Knowledge radio show that played in the past month or so), the more I think it’s primarily imposed upon us by our culture. At this point, crossing the boundaries of binary gender definitions happens, but the public reaction to it is pretty one-sided (i.e., it’s okay—and even good—for girls to do “boy things” but suspect if a boy does “girl things”). Anyway, that’s more than I intended to write in my reply.

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad that my post made you laugh!

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  4. You sound like an awesome mother and from this post, it sounds like you are doing everything right. Your son is one lucky guy.

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  5. Aw, this was really sweet. I love that you let him wear it. My husband would have read into this and completely freaked out. (why does he want to wear a BRA?!?) hahaha! My boys are so curious and have both gone through phases where they wanted to play with my make up, or where my clothes. It’s completely natural and so cute I think. Good on you!

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    1. Thank you for the comment! I’m glad that my spouse has been pretty open about this kind of thing. Our son seems to be the kind of person who learns by trying things out, and both his father and I are doing our best to give him the space he needs to do just that.

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  6. hahhaha… You handled this so well. Your guy has a self determination streak. I like that! Nice piece of writing…even nicer piece of parenting….

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  7. First, You are a great mom.

    I like the way you told this – something so simple and honest, and sweet, but with so many implied complexities.

    Oh, and the title – perfection.

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    1. Thank you for the comment, Karen (and for the compliment). I have to stop looking at this post, though. I keep seeing little things I want to tweak.

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