Oh crap, I’m sending Zoey into the lion’s den wearing a meat dress

Ruh-rohhh, I think I might have made a stupid move. So about a month ago when we found out our kiddos were going back to school, I started to buy school supplies. Kinda sucks because I know I’m gonna spend a small fortune and then they’re gonna call off school like three days after it starts (Kidding. Kinda sorta).

Anyways, Holden picked out an awesome simple black backpack (P.S. I’m an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases) that didn’t cost too much, has a billion pockets, and looks like it might last for years. But Zoey? She stupidly took my advice.

ME: Hey, honey, since you aren’t having a locker this year because of Covid and you’re gonna have to schlep everything around with you all day, maybe we should get you a backpack on wheels.

ZOEY: That’s a great idea!

And she immediately hopped on her phone and found a super cute one. It came in sooooo many beautiful patterns that all cost $60 except for the ONE pattern she wanted that cost $99. WTF? But Zoey doesn’t ask for much so I sucked it up and bought it for her.

And the day it arrived, she was like a pig in mud. She ripped open the box and oohed and ahhed over it. It was a huge hit… until this happened.

I mentioned the backpack on wheels to my friend.

ME: I got Zoey a backpack on wheels.

FRIEND: Yeah I thought that was a great idea, but I asked Kylie if she wanted one and she rolled her eyes and said, “God no, that’s like social suicide.”

Ruh-rohhhh. But nope nope nope, I am not succumbing to peer pressure. Zoey loves her new backpack and I’m not going to worry about it.

But I worried about it. I mean she’s just starting junior high and I want her to make awesome friends who don’t judge her by her backpack, but the last thing I want to do is send her into the lion’s den wearing a meat dress.

Am I setting her up for failure? But nope, I told myself to stop worrying. And then one night I was having drinks with another friend whose daughter already went through junior high.

ME: So I have a question. I got Zoey a backpack on wheels. Was that a mistake?

And she gave me the look. The “oh-no-you-didn’t” look.

HER: Can you return it?

Oh crap. That night I went to sleep worrying and decided I have two choices:

  1. Don’t worry about it and let Zoey figure it out on her own (and yes, I know this is the right decision, but I like to screw up a lot)
  2. Have a very delicate talk with Zoey and risk making her feel really self-conscious about something she loves

Like I said, I like to F things up, so I went with #2. The next morning I gently broached the subject with her.

ME: Uhhhh, honey, I just want to make sure you really want a backpack on wheels.

ZOEY: Duhhhh. Why?

ME: Ummm, well, so Kylie’s mom asked her if she wanted one, and Kylie looked at her like she was crazy, so I just wanted to make sure you think it’s okay to have a wheely backpack in junior high.

There, I said it. There’s no taking it back now.

ME: Do you still want it? 

ZOEY: (appalled) Of course I do! Mom, you know I don’t care what other people think!! And it’s WAY more convenient.   

Woah. She put me in my place. And she never even flinched. She happily packed her wheely backpack for school without hesitation.

But where the hell did this kid get all this self-confidence? I never would have been like that in junior high. Most of me thinks she was born with it, but a little part of me thinks it wasn’t all just a happy accident.

Two years ago in elementary school, a kid asked Zoey why she dresses so weird. I remember Zoey was sad when she came home that day. But I also remember what I told her. First I said “that girl” is the one with the problem, NOT you. And then I told her this. The most amazing people in this world, the people who are groundbreaking and memorable (the Lady Gagas, the Gianni Versaces, the Albert Einsteins), they don’t just do what everyone else does. They stand out. With what they wear, or the things they create, or the way they think.

And even though I screw up a lot, apparently I didn’t screw up that day and I said the right thing (insert angels singing here).  

Because Zoey kept dressing like herself every morning. She doesn’t want to look like the other kids. In fact, she would probably choose to wear a meat dress into the lion’s den if she felt like it. Or a broccoli dress because someone already wore the meat one.

So when she walks into junior high for the first time this week, she’ll be the kid proudly rolling her bag down the hall. And if the other kids don’t want to be friends with her because her bag has wheels, that’s just silly. And maybe they’ll realize it’s silly once they discover what a kickass/unique/interesting person she is. Maybe. Hopefully. Dear God please let them be nice and not chew her up and spit her out.

Sigh. Oh well, I guess if the lions do eat her and regurgitate her, it’ll be character-building, right? 

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There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Erin at 11:32 am

    I love this! The kids that said it is crazy may not realize that since they won’t have lockers this year, that a bag on wheels is the cool thing. Otherwise, they are going to have some major back problems.

  2. Karen at 12:22 pm

    I don’t think she will be the only one this year and if she is at first, as the kids lug everything from class to class, more will join her. Practical and bring your own person are 2 great combos!

  3. Jaimie at 3:26 pm

    My daughter has the same kind of self confidence and she breezed through middle school pretty much unscathed. I, however, still have nightmares and PTSD from my middle school days and couldn’t believe how she took the whole experience in stride. She let go of a few friends who turned into “mean girls” and found her niche in a group of the sweetest, most selfless girls I’ve ever met who also do not give a crap about what anyone else thinks. She has her tribe and I couldn’t be happier. I think the way I have told her (like you did with Zoey) to do what makes her happy and screw everyone else made a difference. Amazing, since I think I screw her up a little more everyday with something I say or do or handle wrong. She’s 15 now, so hopefully I don’t screw her up too much more before college…lol!

  4. Nubstep at 3:26 pm

    Aging myself here.. but nearly 30 years ago, when I was in middle school, I really wanted light-up shoes (they were a new thing back then). So I got a pair. I think I was the only one who had them. I was already a big target of the bullies because I was overweight and one of the few redheads there, so of course, I was made fun of (kids making those “Beep! Beep! Watch out, she’s backing up!” comments, etc). It was humiliating for this introvert who still can’t stand being singled-out, and I didn’t wear them for long. Fast-forward, not too long after I stopped wearing them, I started noticing other kids wearing them. So, even though it wasn’t a great experience for me, I like to think I was a trendsetter and paved the way for the others. I really envy Zoey’s confidence and individuality.. I wish I had just a fraction of hers, so I could just be me and not feel so self-conscious about what others think.

  5. Tracy Frederico at 4:30 pm

    I am with Beth here. We weren’t allowed to bring the roller bags. The school considered them a tripping hazard as they are at your feel and not on your body. Personally, my feet are a tripping hazard, but I am well out of school. LOL!

  6. Jennifer at 7:48 pm

    Good for her! And if she decides on her own that the wheely backpack isn’t cool, she can just use the regular backpack straps. I think she’s adorable and will be a world changer, wheels and all!

  7. gomechu at 3:56 am

    I very often buy stuff for my daughter in de boys section because she doesn’t like tight T-shirts and jumpers. One day I bought a really cool jumper with black and white letters on a pale grey-ish pink background. My son (10) decided he wanted the same one. I thought “oh my god, he’s color blind! doesn’t he see it’s pink? He’s going to be laughed at SO hard!”. But I shut up and bought it for him. Guess what. Nothing happened! He wears it very often and it is perfectly fine.

  8. Kristen at 7:33 pm

    Kylie has been watching too many tween sitcoms, poor kid. “Social suicide OMG!” Good for Zoey for not caring, and you didn’t end up wasting $100.

  9. Meghan at 10:34 am

    One of my best friends had a rolling backpack in middle school and she loved it. The only person who made fun of it was herself! She always joked that she could never sneak up on people because with a rolling backpack they’d always hear her coming

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