the crone

opening the door to ideas

So I’ve brought up both of my children up to be individuals.

To celebrate that everyone is different.

To understand that being unique is something to take pride in.

Listen up Sheeple!

Listen up Sheeple!

My son is very different to most 10 year old boys. Not because he has Aspergers Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder … he really is quite eccentric.

His conversations about previous and current Cartoon Network logos and TV idents are long and detailed.

His knowledge of the London Underground system and its trains is, well, very deep.

His ability to make live action and stop-frame films, animate cartoons, code games and sound edit music and SFX using professional levels of software is really quite astounding.

All these things we celebrate.

But as he gets older, the one visible thing we’re finding harder to cheer on is his love of hats.

Hats Life…

He started collecting hats about 5 or so years ago, moving from dressing up in toy policeman’s helmets to various kinds of caps, sailor’s berets, dress uniform and professional headgear.

The pride of his collection – the one he spent his birthday money on last year – is a Deerstalker Hat, known more commonly as a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ hat.

He loves this hat.

This hat (using my amateur psycho-analysis) defines him: he is calm, cool and intelligent when he wears The Hat. He is someone Important. Someone who is finding out about the world through logic and thorough examination.

So he wears The Hat every day.

Every single day. Even in the blazing sun.

Even when the rest of him is incongruously dressed in smart school uniform.

He’s had many comments of course – ‘Hello Sherlock!’ – “Love the hat!” – ‘Where’s Dr Watson?’ – from well-meaning passers-by, teachers and school fellows.

But he bears it all quite amicably.

And as he goes to a small (fairly) friendly church school, he has been accepted as a unique boy with a love of hats. His hats were even mentioned in the school award he won, and in his end of year report.

But now things have to change.

Hats off

I hate myself, but I have begun to ban The Hat.

To make him change. To make him ‘look like the others’.

To ensure he ‘doesn’t stand out’ from the crowd.


Because he is undergoing what they call Transition to Secondary School.

Although a very young 10, the school system in the UK means he has to go to ‘big’ school after this summer.

I’ve been liaising with his current Junior School and his new school to help him move up without too much anxiety, as he has had a few problems in the past.

At my initial meeting with the SENco (Special Ed.) teacher the very first question she asked me was,

“Will he be wearing his hat to school?”

I’d already been thinking about this. And I felt he needed to be protected from a world that might not be so kind to him as the one he’s been used to.

So I’ve lied to him.

I’ve told him The Hat is not school uniform, and he will not be allowed to wear it when he moves up to Secondary School.

There it goes.

Years and years of careful parenting about celebrating difference and staying true to yourself.

Dumped because of a Sherlock Holmes Hat.

A love/hat Relationship

You might not agree with my decision.

But I know how cruel children can be. How easy to is to pick out the vulnerable one in the crowd. To hound and harry until they get the reaction they want.

As the SENco said, there is a small gap between being liked and admired for your individuality, and being looked down on and cut out from friendships for being a ‘weirdo’.

I am still asking myself ‘Why do I have to change a boy to fit in with society?’

I am still staying ‘Why can’t society be the one to change — and accept a unique boy?’

In the meantime I am still saying no Hat to my boy.

I’m hoping he’ll understand one day that I would never want to take away part of his brilliant and endearing personality: I was only trying to protect him.

Still. I hate myself for it.

The Hat

The Hat

If this blog post resonated with you, maybe you’d like to see this Boxed Up Boy

8 thoughts on “The Strange Case Of The Sherlock Holmes Hat

  1. Stacy Moore says:

    Wow. Tricky, especially as he is one of the few people a deerstalker actually becomes! But I totally see your point. This age is hard. The tribalism can be vicious. From the little I know of your son, he will always find a way to be himself. It does sound, though, like he may struggle to negotiate pre-teen “politics” more than some. It sounds like you might be teaching a lesson in belonging (which at 10-13 is remarkably like conforming), so that some day he can *choose* how much he wants to belong. It’s not a choice if you’re always excluded a priori from the group.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. jacqueline S says:

      Stacy, you’ve nailed it, totally. It’s the ‘belonging’ part I want him to enjoy at this stage. Conforming now doesn’t mean ditching his unique individual style… I hope. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lornabear says:

    Oh my goodness, your article really resonated with me and my husband. Our now 22 year old autistic son developed his love of hats very early on initially starting with a bucket on his head. As you can imagine we were at first relieved when he swapped the bucket for a bucket style hat. His favourite hat is and still is a crochet style black and rainbow with a smiley face on the top hat given to us by a friend who runs a stall in Glastonbury. This hat is now 10 years old and is literally falling apart. He does have others in the same style (around 20 or so) but the original one is now the only one he wears and only comes off when he feels safe. we were lucky in a way that we had access to a special needs school for autism so the hat was allowed because it didn’t make him weird in that setting (there were plenty more weirder) however we now are blessed with an adult son who does stand out because he chooses to wear his hat come rain or shine 😦 I applaud your difficult to decision to help your son blend in. The need to protect our children whilst allowing them to be themselves and happy to do so is a really tricky balancing act. Well done, you sound like a great parent 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jacqueline S says:

      Thank you so much Lorna for sharing your own experience with me. I’m feeling better about banning The Hat since reading your comment… and yes, it certainly is a tricky balancing act to protect the unique child by sheltering them in the conformist crowd. Thank you for your insight x


      1. lornabear says:

        Turns out we have a mutual friend. Andy Clark is my other half. He sent me the link to your blog but I didn’t make the connection 🙂 It is indeed a small world after all 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. jacqueline S says:

    Ah, yes. I know who you are now 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kim says:

    I enjoyed this post — your genuineness and your intentions — so very much! As a speech-language pathologist who focuses on social communication skills with my students, I, too, walk the clashing line between acceptance of oneself and protection against the cruelty of the Others. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jacqueline S says:

      Thank you so much Kim! Unique people do indeed tread a narrow and judgmental path in this world.


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