Learning to Like What I Like — Thanks to My Son

When you live with a child, you pick up a lot of their peculiarities. For starters, while I once abhorred ketchup, after having to slather it on far too many hot dogs and cheeseburgers for my son's dinners, I've developed a little fondness for arguably the world's worst condiment (not sorry). And more than once have I been caught singing along to his favorite playlist, even after I've already dropped him off for school. Thankfully, it's not just food preferences and music tastes that have slipped into my daily life thanks to him. Having a 4-year-old son who has such particular tastes has shown me a lot about what it means to be a confident individual, and I couldn't be happier for it.

Watching a kid figure out what they like and want to do is a pretty magical window into his world. I've been there as some TV shows that were once the favorites get replaced, and I get to see how he has gone from only listening to Mother Goose songs to loving everything that has to do with The Beatles. The amazing thing about young children in particular is that they will get interested in anything; they don't care about what's cool or what they're supposed to like. They like what they like, and it becomes cool to them.

Like many kids, my son was (and still mostly is) obsessed with all things trains. It doesn't matter to him that the only people (aside from his age group) who think trains are cool are usually retired folks, because he loves trains wholeheartedly. Being cool isn't a consideration for him, which in my mind makes him even more hip.

Despite being a fairly confident individual, I still care deeply about what other people think of me. I pick clothes in part because of how trendy they are. I try to listen to music that is cool, even though I'm perfectly content listening to the playlist I made back in college. As an adult surrounded by people and Instagram influencers at my fingertips, it's really difficult to embrace my unique tastes without considering what others may think. What I need to do is relearn how to be more like a 4-year-old.

He's perfectly content playing with his play kitchen and listening to music that makes him happy. At this point, it is unfathomable to him that he should tailor his desires and tastes to what others might like. Even though he is also a fairly shy kid who doesn't seek attention from others, somehow he has mastered the art of not giving a hoot as to what others think. This is true confidence.

It's easy to think of confidence as waltzing into a room and taking command of the situation, but that's not him. He knows himself, and he knows what he wants. Sure, time and exposure to other people will likely change this, but if I can do anything as a parent, I hope that I can learn to be more like him while keeping him on the same path as he grows. Because this kind of confidence is too endearing to let go of.