My eldest son has just participated in his first school play in the US.
He was a purple zebra in Middle America Elementary 1st grade drama production.
This was not wholly positive. He was meant to participate as a normally hued zebra. In a play full of African animals there was not much deviation from the archetypal African beasts. No purple lions, purple tigers and nary a purple antelope. He stuck out; in a not very positive way.
I have found suburban America to be very keen on process and uniformity. A lot of the humor in Seinfeld mocks this, but as a newcomer I want to fit in before choosing to buck any social norms in pursuit of individuality.
Â I ordered a costume from Amazon prior to the play.There were three other zebras. One of the other moms ordered the other costumes from Amazon, but had not realised my son was also a zebra, so we were left out of the loop. I assumed I had ordered the same costume as the other Moms.
This was not the case. My mistake.
Â I forget sometimes that I am now in a culture of many millions of other people and this impacts on the number of consumer options available to me. America’s market is much bigger than in New Zealand and the product lines are vastly more numerous than a small town gal like me can easily comprehend.
I bought the first zebra costume option I came across online. The other Mother had selected another more zebra-like option. Â In the night of the concert, my zebra had a stripy furry torso, the other zebras had smooth stripy legs and torsos.
My zebra also had a purple shirt on underneath his costume:
On the night of the performance, I dropped my son off at the changing room, before leaving to staunch out the other Moms for a front row seat. I had made my son promise to take off his favorite purple shirt and dress in his furry zebra top.
Like many boys he can’t pay attention to verbal instruction. After five minutes of watching him perform exuberantly, I started to steam. “How could he”?
He was up there in front of the entire school; a furry purple zebra in a group of uniform black and white zebras.
I was only able to talk myself down ,when I saw one of the monkeys had no mask and and a toy kitten for a tail.
He came off the stage as high as a kite. I shut down the urge to say in my best Medusa voice:Â “Did you not think to take your shirt off? You don’t listen“. I hugged my purple zebra, took a few photos and he sang all the way home.
We live in an age where medicine is readily available to help boys like my son focus on all the female voices in their lives so Moms and teachers can have it easier:
I sometimes feel quite self conscious in this new nation but I try not to shut down my purple zebra self to fit in, but try and channel our creative energy. My son’s singing teacher says he has a good voice so I’m now on the lookout for operas with animals of varying hues.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Embrace your Inner Purple Zebra