Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You Know What I Hate?

Western Days at Helen's preschool. Oh, sure, it sounds so seasonal and festive: the Stock Show's in town! Let's learn about farm animals and wear Western gear and make Western-y things like bandanas stamped with horseshoes! Which is all fine and good until the pony stops, with a short sobbing screech, at the wear Western gear part. Because here's the deal: we don't actually have any Western gear lying around the house, at least not in five-year-old girl size. No little Western vests. No pink Western hats with the curlicues and the bolo-tie straps. And certainly no $30 Western cowboy boots, in pink or any other color. So that Western Days either means a panicked run to Target at 7:30 p.m. on a school night, or 24 hours of sobbing. Guess which one we picked? Kill me.

Helen cried herself to sleep last night on the subject of Why can't we go buy a cowgirl hat? And woke up the morning crying for real about I want some COWGIRL BOOTS. And went to school not crying, but all pink and puffy and tender. In her completely non-Western leggings and striped shirt. Because even though she had a very Western-y jeans and a flowery button-up blouse, these weren't really cowgirl things without the boots and the hat. So why even bother, really?

God. At first I was game. "Oh, you really want to wear Western stuff because your friends are going to be wearing Western stuff," I said. "I really see that. Well, luckily you have some Western stuff. And you can wear Dad's cowboy hat!"

Then I started to get mad. "Western Wear Day is really only for wearing stuff you already have around the house," I said. "Not for going out and buying new special stuff that you're only going to wear once."

And finally I lost my temper. "Because last time we rushed out and bought special shoes for school? You didn't even wear them to the program we bought them for." I held up the white shoes with the rainbow lace-ups, and also the brand-new shoes that we bought two weeks ago and which haven't been worn yet, not even once, and also the sneakers she went and bought with her grandma at the beginning of school and which have been worn maybe once, if that. "We are not buying any more special shoes for special occasions until these shoes have gotten worn, and I mean it!"

Commence the weeping and the sobbing and the guilt. This is my absolutely least favorite thing about parenting--how it ropes me into stupid materialistic dramas that I outgrew or opted out of thirty years ago, and makes me feel like a total asshole for not just going along (how hard is it to rush out and buy $35 of special crap, anyway? yes, it's annoying, but is it going to break the budget for the month? not really, so what's the hold up? why not just buy $35 of felted plastic knickknack and make the girl happy? also, shouldn't we go to the damn Stock Show this weekend like apparently everybody else in town? don't we owe it to our kids, or the moment, or posterity, or something?)

You know what I hate? Social pressure.

Happy Wednesday. With a side of bitter.


Jess said...

Ooooh, I'd be pissed too. The school is just SETTING YOU UP for this. I bet the same drama played out in at least half a dozen of her classmates' houses last night, too. If the school is going to say the kids should wear western gear, they should have an activity where they all make their own cowboy hats or something.

Kate said...

You have every right to be upset. Waste of money, waste of time and teaching the wrong lesson.

Jess is right! Why didn't that lame teacher use this as a creative crafts project day?

Melospiza said...

I think it's a little bit the school's issue, but also a lot bit Helen's sensitivity to social cues ("But MEREDITH'S wearing her cowgirl hat" etc.). In theory it's no different than Pajama Day, or Teddy Bear Day, or Crazy Hat Day, except that in those cases we already have the requisite paraphernalia lying around the house. And I think technically this is a prelude to "But MEREDITH gets to wear a tiara/ drive to school/ stay out until 2 am!" rather than "But Mrs. Anderson SAID we had to bring in a clean sock as an eraser!" Either way, it's an important (but OMG difficult) conversation that needs to begin at home.

Oz said...

Luckily, my two year old is not sensitive to dress up days, so the fact that we had no special apparel for favorite sports team day or superhero day was OK. But eventually it won't be...

Why can't they just make festive paper cowboy hats or something, as a part of the whole western thing? Yello paper badges! Temporary horse tattoos! Then, everyone can be all festive like, and there's no pressure.

Oz said...

Dude, just realized that's what Jess said. Ditto, Jess.