Thus said my boy about a friend of his who dissed my kid's new quick-dry, zip-off-leg, built-in-sunscreen pants. The friend said they look like nurses' pants.
Once he said that I realized that because of their green color (somewhere between khaki and forest) they look a bit like scrubs. Yeah, like nurses wear - and doctors.
We got the pants for a Boy Scout canoe trip, and because they were on sale and I had a coupon (in other words, they were really cheap). He approved the color. And he still seems to like them, despite his friend's comment. He doesn't understand insulting comments about clothing, because he really doesn't care about clothing. Oh, he wouldn't wear pink pants, but pretty much as long as his clothes are comfortable and functional, who cares? And why would anyone else care what he is wearing?
Still, he was a little upset over that and other things that happened at a recent get-together. He hasn't had a lot of exposure to mean kids, or kids who are generally nice but under certain circumstances (like around bigger boys), make nasty comments. Last year he had a little trouble with a few guys in his Little League team, and once a few years ago at a summertime day camp when some boys didn't like our last name. Those were pretty isolated incidents. So he hasn't really developed the ability to take such insults in stride, or respond to them.
Now opponents of homeschooling might say well, this is your fault for keeping him out of school where he would have been exposed to this more and learned how to deal with it. Well, maybe so, maybe not. Maybe relentless exposure would have further demoralized him and made him withdraw into a shell (my own personal experience), or made him just as mean as the meanest boy around. Hard to tell. I'll go with this: having less exposure, not more, is the healthier option.
In any case, we talked about the stupidity of insulting someone for their clothes, and I tried to coach him on the proper response: why do my clothes bother you? It's hard to teach him the withering glance and disdainful tone of voice.
In the end, he shrugged it off with the comment about the boy's repertoire of insults. And we had to laugh.