One of my most important jobs in the world is to raise a respectful boy who will grow up to be a kind, generous, good man with a solid moral compass. As a solo single mom doing this alone with no input from his “dad,” this is major. When I think back to 2007, when I discovered I was pregnant and Jack’s dad just … fled … I cringe thinking about my son behaving in such a way. Treating a woman with such disrespect and discard. I would never allow it — period. Jack will be a standup man. He will respect women. This is why I sat him down and showed him ballerina Misty Copeland’s empowering Under Armour ad: I Will What I Want. Chilling and powerful, it will leave you feeling … everything.
As the commercial starts, a little girl reads rejection letters from ballet companies that Copeland received over the years. Misty had the wrong feet, wrong calves, wrong height, and, at 13, she was too old to be a dancer — whaaaaa.
Jack, 6, listened intensely, watching Misty create beautiful movements. Her feet so poised in pointe shoes. Those rock hard calves. That sleek torso. Chiseled arms. Soon, the music sped up and Misty took off: “Like a super hero mom!” Jack cheered. And this was exactly the response I wanted to evoke in him. “Yes, Jack, look at her go!” I said. “She is flying!”
When Jack asked if boys were dancers too, I found some gorgeous footage on YouTube of male dancers. He watched with wide eyes. When the reel ended, I told him girls can do anything boys can do and vice-versa! I reminded him about the movie Sandlot 2, set in the ’70s when little girls join the boys on the dusty field to kick some baseball butt. Then I showed him a real-life example close to our home.
As reported on NJ.com, Kayla Roncin, 12, is the driving force behind the best Little League team in New Jersey. She plays with and against boys, as opposed to an all-girls soft ball league. I showed Jack her powerful swing and home run sweep in this video. Watch all the boys pat the girl with the ponytail on the back when she rushes home — it’s ahhhhhhh-mazing! Show your boys and girls alike to inspire them.
Misty and Kayla were a hit in my home. I know Jack got it when he told me I’m like them, because I do “everything” a dad does, saying, “You play baseball with me, mom!”
And I always will, kiddo.