Happiness-Appropriate

Sawyer has always had fixations, ever since he has a tiny baby. He has gone through many phases over the years, the longest of which was his “Cars” phase; there is no telling how many variations of Lightning McQueen, Mater, and all the other Cars we had in our house at one time. He loved regular Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, too, but Disney’s “Cars” was his favorite for many, many years. When we took the kids to Disney World in 2016, it was Sawyer’s first trip and we stayed in the “Cars” wing of the Art of Animation Resort. The wonder and excitement on his sweet little face when he got to see life size versions of his beloved “Cars” is still one of my favorite memories with him. 

A couple of years ago, he started to phase out of “Cars” and I have to admit I was a little sad when he started passing his cars on and favoring things like Mario and Luigi over the residents of Radiator Springs. My little boy was growing up and getting into “big kid” things. However, a couple of years ago, Sawyer fell in love with Numberblocks and Alphabet Lore, two things that were created with preschoolers in mind. Last year when Sawyer turned 10, he asked to have a Numberblocks birthday party. I knew that the other kids in his class would probably think it was weird that he was having a Numberblocks birthday party, but we did it anyway; we got Numberblocks balloons and cupcake toppers, and I ordered him a custom Numberblocks tshirt to wear for his party. He was absolutely thrilled, but in the back of my mind I felt a little weird about a 10 year old having a birthday party with a preschool theme. I’ve never discouraged my kids’ interests before, but last year was the first time I was a little bothered by the things my kids were into. I know how mean kids can be, and I worried that Sawyer would get made fun for being into something “for little kids”. 

This year, Sawyer has discovered and fallen in love with “Bluey“; it’s his latest fixation. He absolutely loves watching “Bluey”, and is always telling me about things the characters have said or done during different episodes. I’ve watched some of the episodes with him, and I do have to admit it’s super cute. As we were walking through Walmart one night, Sawyer saw a Bluey blanket and asked for it. I told him “Bud, you’re too old for Bluey stuff.” Emily and Caitlyn were both with us, and they both told me “Nuh-uh! Even adults love Bluey! Let him have that blanket!” I didn’t get it for him, but told him maybe he would get it for his birthday. Sure enough, Sawyer asked for Bluey plushies, a Bluey blanket, and other Bluey things for Easter and his 11th birthday. 

Sawyer is now 11 and starts middle school this fall, but even though his body is 11, his mind is not quite as mature as most other 11 year olds. Socially, he tends to get along better with kids that are around 8-9 years old because his interests are more in line with theirs. I’ve written about how nervous I am that his body is growing faster than his mind, even though this is something I’ve known might happen for years now. I guess it just never really hit me til recently, and it’s been weighing on my mind. I don’t want Sawyer to be made fun of or left out of things because he is into things that the other kids in his grade think are for babies. But I also don’t want to discourage Sawyer from loving the things he loves. 

Yesterday, I saw a video that stopped me in my tracks. It was a clip of a boy who is 18 years old and sleeps with a Baymax plush every night. This boy also has special needs, and most people would probably say 18 year olds are too old to sleep with a Disney plush every night, but the caption on the video said “In our house, we focus on happiness-appropriate instead of age appropriate” or something to that effect, and that stuck with me. It made me realize that if Bluey makes Sawyer happy, then it shouldn’t matter to me what age group Bluey was created for. I’m a 42-year-old woman who collects Pop figures and memorabilia from my favorite TV shows and movies; who am I to judge?? My job as a mom is to love and support my children, including their interests and what makes them happy, so I am.

The point is, I really love the message that video sends. I think we can all stand to think of things as being “happiness-appropriate” rather than “age-appropriate”. Who cares what other people love and enjoy if it makes them happy? As long as it’s not hurting anyone or against the law, it doesn’t matter. We could all use a little more happiness in our lives, and if that comes to my son in the form of a blue cartoon dog, then so be it. From now on, our house is going to think of things on their happiness appropriate scale, rather than age appropriate.

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