"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Before He Starts Kindergarten

Three years ago, I thought nothing would be more difficult, more heart-wrenching, more anxiety-inducing than sending my oldest son to kindergarten.

Three years ago, I didn't know that I'd be sending my second son to kindergarten in a skirt.

But here we are...one week out from the start of school and the butterflies have taken over my stomach.

I know, I know: He'll be fine.

I know he'll be fine because he's right where he needs to be. I know he'll be fine because he will always, always, have a safe place to land in our family and in our home. I know he'll be fine because he is who he is: confident, charming, bright, and full of life and excitement. To know Max is to love Max, and I'm not just saying that because I'm the one who loves him most of all. (Well, okay, Sam and I share the title.)

I also know, though, that I'm about to send my happy, little rainbow fish off to a great, big pond and I just have to trust that we have prepared him well enough for what he may face in these uncharted waters ahead. I don't want his confidence to falter. I don't want his sparkle to fade.

But, it occurs to me that it's not fair that I should have to prepare HIM for the world ahead. He's done nothing wrong in choosing to wear skirts, magenta leopard-print shoes, and sparkly fingernail polish. He's just living his life and it's a beautiful one.

So this message is not for him. This message is for the Others: the people he will meet who do not Get It, the people he will meet who judge, the people who hurt.

Here we go:

Just don't be a jerk.

Parents, I don't care how you feel about the fact that my boy wears a skirt...but I will care if you share your judgements and discriminations with your kids. Your kids aren't judging him. Kids are not born to point and laugh and make fun of other kids. Kids, generally speaking, are open. They learn that ugly, judgy behavior from you (and from older, more jaded kids).  So just don't teach them to be jerks. And if you catch them being jerks, address their behavior. Swiftly.

Your kids may, however, be curious. And that's okay. Max has fielded a lot of questions from other kids about his wardrobe. It typically goes something like this:

Other Kid: Are you a boy or a girl?
Max: A boy.
Other Kid: ...but you're wearing a skirt.
Max: Oh, yeah. I like to wear skirts.
Other Kid: Oh. Okay.

If your kids ask why that boy in their class is wearing a skirt, just say, "Everyone gets to choose which clothes they feel most comfortable in, and he feels comfortable in skirts." If that's too much for you, then you can simply say, "I don't know, but it shouldn't matter to you what other people are wearing. Who'd you play with at recess today?"

Keep your ears open and if you hear a negative word about a child, any child, teach your children that everyone is Different: different colors, different sizes, different strengths, different struggles, different beliefs, different families, different clothes.

Different, because The Same is boring.

It really is that simple.

***

And then, this is a letter to the people who do get it, who don't judge, and who love him just the way he is...

Thank you. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for asking me when you have questions or when you don't know how to answer the questions of your children. Thank you for accepting him and for protecting him and for welcoming him into your families and your hearts and your homes. Thank you...but also, you're welcome.

He's pretty great, isn't he?

Lesson Learned:

One week. Here we go. We can do this. Are you with us?

9 comments :

  1. Our schools go back in September, and our 8-year-old will be wearing a skirt to school for the first time. And a very pretty white blouse as well. He picked them out on a recent shopping trip.

    The school tell us they are ready. He is tired of waiting to be allowed, FINALLY, to wear the clothes to school that he wants to wear (after years of him asking and me dancing the political dance on the school governing board and us getting a new head teacher).

    But us? We're in denial just now, but we're going to be nervous as hell in a couple of weeks time.

    I hope that Max's school will be awesome and that he settles in well and makes a million great friends.

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    1. Thank you so much...and happy, sparkly, confident vibes sent right back to you. I really think this is WAY harder on us than it is on our amazing children. Keep us posted on how his start to the school year goes...and I'll do the same.

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  2. Wow. Really hope Max has an awesome time at school. Just like I'd wish for any kindergartener. ;)

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    1. Thanks! We're off to a great start! :)

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  3. I really hope and pray that things go well for him. Everyone should be able to be comfortable and I totally understand how he feels. When I was a kid I hated wearing a dress to school everyday, I wanted to wear the boys uniform and when I was home I stayed in football jerseys and sweats, it was what I was allowed to wear. I would have loved to have had a mom as wonderful as you who understands and fights for their child. Thank you for writing this and I hope the world reads it.

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    1. Thank you for reading and for sharing your story, Michelle! I hope the world reads it, too...if only to remind everyone that it's easy to do the right thing. :) Thanks again and welcome to my little corner of the internet.

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  4. So... here goes. He's in bed. Eleven scant hours to go before he makes his skirted debut at school. Fingers crossed.

    I think we're more nervous than he is.

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    1. We'll be thinking of you guys and sending thoughts of courage, confidence, and kindness across the pond! Keep us posted! ❤️

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    2. School seems to be working really well. He starts Cub Scouts tonight. Wish us luck.

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