Cheetah Pants and My Boy


My little boy loves cheetahs. They’re the fastest land animal, after all, and when you’re a busy 4 1/2-year-old on the run, speed is a top-notch skill to have. If you’ve ever visited the Columbus Zoo, you know that watching a cheetah go from standing to a high-speed chase to catch the treat always elicits a “Wow!” from kids and adults, and seeing them lounge and play with your basic Labrador dog in the same enclosure gives them the allure of almost being a gorgeous version of a pet cat. Almost.


All that said, it’s no wonder that my little guy would want to be a cheetah when he plays. When he laid eyes on his big sister’s new pair of cheetah print leggings, it was love at first sight. He had to have a pair of his own. After Google searches, and checking with our favorite kids’ clothing sites, no cheetah print pants in a boy cut could be found, so we ran over to Kohl’s and picked up his own set of cheetah pants, compliments of the girls’ department of course. He was overjoyed, and I still get a grin thinking about J and his sister playing cheetah run in the backyard that afternoon. 

I know his cheetah print pants certainly aren’t the most common little boy pants out there, but he loves wearing them, usually with a dinosaur shirt so he can be a Cheetah-saurus Rex; this creature is a fearsome combination of speed and size. I never expected that it might lead to speculation about his future sexual preferences. I’ve had the friend or two that said they would never let their little boy in public wearing girl pants and brushed it off as to each their own parenting style. But it wasn’t until an older gentleman inquired, “Is your little boy wearing girl pants? Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to make him gay?” that I actually had to pause and think.

Am I afraid that by letting my 4-year-old dress like a wild animal that he loves, that I’m somehow “making him gay?” IS THAT REALLY THE QUESTION? Here are some things I fear for my little boy.


I fear that he does not learn to see someone for who they truly are and not just what they look like. I fear that he be closed-minded to any opinion that is different than his own. I fear that he will never learn to sleep through the night and I’m going to be as exhausted as I am now until he leaves for college. I fear that he would believe that a person must go to college to have a valuable career, even if it doesn’t best educate you for what you want to be in life. I fear that he puts doing what feels good above responsibility and commitment.

I fear that he never learns to eat a fruit or vegetable and gets scurvy. I fear that he thinks that kindness is not a manly trait and that it is a sign of weakness to be exploited. I fear that he will become ill in a way that doctors cannot cure. I fear that he thinks that the phrase “boys will be boys” excuses any and all bad behavior that he should be held accountable for. I fear that he places popularity above what he knows is right or wrong. I fear that he won’t learn the value of hard work and think that any job is beneath him.

I fear that the darkness of drug abuse would seep into his life. I fear that he’ll sneak one of the toads he catches in the yard into his bedroom as a secret pet, or worse yet, that I do not find out until it’s untimely demise. I fear that video games will trump all physical activity, and he’ll become a teenage potato. I fear that he won’t be able to find a career that both fulfills him and provides for his life, as they are both important – goodness knows I’m still searching for that at 35.

I fear that he won’t learn that anything other then the word “yes” means “no” when it comes to permission and consent. I fear that he won’t find be able to discern between romantic lust and true love, and then work hard at a relationship because even the truest of love takes work and care. I fear that he would think that God’s love for him is based on what he looks like, how he dresses, or who he loves instead of his love of the Lord and whether the life he lives reflects that love to the world. 

As you can see, I have a list of fears that keep me up at night about this sweet boy that I’m trying to raise into a good man. I could have easily listed about 1,000 more things, but I kept it brief. And if the day does come when he tells me that his sexual preference isn’t for women, we will talk about that. Though it’s not my hope for him, I will be grateful that he trusted our love for him enough to be honest. But not for one split second would I ever think it’s because he liked cheetahs and wore cheetah print leggings when he was the sweet, rambunctious crazy little boy I tuck in every night.