Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Mr. Sunshine

There are a few things people should know about me, not the least of which is my tendency to seize and obsess upon an idea.  I'm intensely focused, to a flaw, but it's a trait that I can recognize in myself.  When I found out I was pregnant, I knew it would mean I would someday be a "----- mom", whether that be "hockey mom", "band mom", "Science Olympiad mom", etc.  Whatever my child was interested in, I would be invested, 100%.

Of course, even before I found out for sure I was having a boy, I never thought there would be even the remotest possibility anyone could call me a "pageant mom".

I'm a tomboy, born and bred, so my experience with child beauty pageants is limited to "Little Miss Sunshine" (one of my favorite movies) and "Toddlers & Tiaras" (my favorite TLC show for when I need to scream at the t.v., besides "Dance Moms").

I especially had never considered the possibility of entering my son into a toddler pageant.  Don't get me wrong; I am all for circumventing outdated gender notions.  However, I think people who use their kids as props to further their own social agendas are jerks and, honestly, crappy parents.

In other words, what I'm trying to say is that I would never submit my son to a traditionally feminine activity as some sort of underhanded feminist tactic.  /end disclaimer

However, if my son showed interest in something that is more typically "girls-only", well, I would be a total hypocrite to try to stop him.

This all started a couple of weeks ago when my son and his cousins went to have portraits done.  In addition to him posing like a pro, big smiles and eyes on the camera for every shot, my little runway rockstar had the time of his life.  Here he was, a 2-year-old boy in a suit and tie, and he was upset when it was time to stop taking pictures.  "Move out of the way honey, it's your cousin's turn," I told him.  "Pictures all done."

"Nooo!  Not all done!  More pictures!"  I then spent the next 20 minutes distracting him with blocks so he wouldn't photobomb his cousins' portraits.

The pictures came out great.  As I mentioned, he was modeling in every single one.  It was then that some family members started mentioning, "Maybe he could do this for real."

I loved the idea, not just because I'm a mom and someone was flattering my kid, but also because I love getting to do things with my son.  He's still too young for sports or instruments, but this was something I could involve him in, without a lot of (or any, ideally) money, and he already seemed to really enjoy it.

It was through researching toddler modeling that I found out a lot of kids get their break through pageants.  It makes sense.  They're practicing walking in front of a crowd, smiling, posing, and getting their pictures taken.

And it just seemed perfect for my son.  He's a natural ham, and loves being the center of attention.  His first time on stage, when he was about 16 months, he was supposed to be playing a sheep with his classmates in a Christmas play put on by his preschool.  His entire role was to walk across the stage with his "flock" (his teacher was the shepherd) and say "baa".

Not my boy.

My little sheep broke away from the pack and took center stage.  Seeing a sanctuary full of eyes on him, he got a huge grin on his face, and broke into dance.  When his teacher chased after him, he ran over to the confused 4-year-old playing a wise man, and tried to grab his microphone.  (What he was going to say, I have no idea.  His vocabulary was pretty limited at that point.)  While one shepherd herded the rest of the little sheep back down the aisle, his teacher had to pick him up and carry him offstage, while he kept trying to dance.

So, I'm not really worried about whether he's too shy for pageants, or might get stage fright.

I started researching pageant companies in my area, just to get an idea of what was out there.  I was lucky to find several that only supported "all natural" pageants, meaning no big hair, make-up, fake teeth ("flippers"), etc.  The pictures were promising.  The little boys were just adorable, gap-toothed kids in cute little suits, and the girl were pretty and natural, in age-appropriate dresses.  No "Toddlers & Tiaras" style tarting-up allowed.

I shot off some e-mails to the directors, women who were very friendly and sane (a pleasant surprise, and far from the stereotypical pageant director my mind had envisioned).  A couple even mentioned that their sons did pageants, and assured me that the process is much easier for boys.

I registered my son, and our first pageant is this Saturday.  I'm very nervous and excited, though there doesn't seem to be much to it.  For his age group, there's only one outfit, and no talent performance.  (In other words, no costume changes or complicated routines to practice.)  Kids under the age of four are required to be escorted across the stage by a parent, so that makes me feel better.  (Though, as my Dad pointed out, my son will need an escort to make sure he gets off the stage, not on it.)  Basically, all I have to do is dress my son up nice, try to brush his crazy hair flat, and hold his hand while we walk across the stage.  Easy-peasy.

But, then again, I am a bit obsessive.  I've got both his suit and my outfit hung up nicely in the closet, so I can just take a quick iron to it Saturday morning.  I'll change him once we get to the venue, so he doesn't get his suit all wrinkled in the carseat.

We've even been practicing our little pageant walk, with me reminding him to smile and wave.  (We may throw in blowing kisses, as long as he feels like doing it.  I'm not going to force him, because that would be fake and cheesy.)  And I've been YouTube-ing videos of toddler pageants, trying to get an idea of what exactly is going to happen.

If this Saturday goes well, this may be something we continue on a semi-regular basis.  Which means I would be a "pageant mom".

Of course, I have it easier than my husband.  He kowtows to my son's whims worse than anyone, which means he could end up being a "pageant dad".  Probably not the activity he had imagined participating in with his little boy.

And if it totally bombs, then we'll just break out and "Little Miss Sunshine" the crap out of it.

1 comment:

michelle craps said...

Love it!! :D & I could totally see u going all little miss sunshine on pageant peeps, lol! One of my faves also. Hope everything goes well on sat :)

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