That's me. Give me any little annoyance, and I'll blow it right the heck up for you into a BIG, FAT DEAL.
Remember last week, when Bella came home from school with a pretty significant bump on the noggin? Well, today, after she'd been at school for a half-hour or less, they called with the news that she'd fallen while playing, and we just might want to get her to a dentist. Like, STAT. For the first part of this crisis, the part of Panicky Little Girl was played by my husband, who called me near tears over his "little girl" and her "INJURY." Bella wasn't even crying by the time he got there to pick her up, but we were just looking for someone to shake.
I took over and transported her to the doctor, where there was exactly nothing to be done but maybe clean with a dilute peroxide solution and apply a little Neosporin. Now, she's sporting a fat lip and some cut-up gums, but thankfully her teeth are intact, as is her little face. Seems she was running, "not looking where [she] was going," and then tried to climb up some steps, accidentally stepping on the hem of her dress and face-planting into them instead.
Anyway, later I wound up speaking on the phone to the principal, and had the most frustrating conversation this year, mostly about the school's dress-code. This is where I provide the disclaimer that Bella attends a private school (our only real option for preschool in this area), and that we knew about the dress-code up front, and signed on anyway, so I have NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN. I'm telling you that I know this, so you won't feel compelled to point it out to me. Having no standing for making complaints has never really done a lot to shut my complaint-hole.
I don't have a problem with uniforms. I really don't. The thing that bugs me about the dress code at Bella's school is the disparity between what the boys wear and what the girls wear. Boys are in regular chinos and polo shirts, open at the collar, while girls are in stiff, below-the-knee-length jumpers and white button-up shirts, buttoned all the way to the collar. Girls may not wear pants, ever, not even if they conform to the uniform. I just wanted to go on record with the school that, even if I'm the ONLY ONE to say so (and the principal let me know that I was, in fact, the only one in the history of TIME), I am unhappy with that facet of the dress-code. I think if he'd just have let me get it off my chest, and then said, "Well, I'm sorry, that's just our policy, and we get to set that policy because we're a private school, so if you don't like it, you're welcome to take your daughter somewhere else," I might have felt better about the whole thing. That's what I would have said, in his position. But that's not what he said.
The only reason that I'm even getting this all out is...well, just that. To get it all out. Because this was THE most frustrating conversation I've had in ages, and if you've ever attempted to debate any issue with someone who does not use proper, linear logic, you know how maddening that can be. This person was so far from my wavelength, I finally did just give up. Now I get to get some of these points out of my system.
I just feel that girls ought to be allowed the OPTION of wearing uniform pants to school. That's all. Just the option. Bella would still choose to wear a dress sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but not ALL the time. I feel, especially since the preschool is on a separate campus from the rest of the elementary school, and the preschoolers only see other preschoolers, that 3- and 4-year-old girls are just too young to be forced into the kind of body-awareness and modesty that daily dress-wearing commands. They spend a lot of time playing, and are regularly required to sit on the floor. And you know what? They have their entire lives to learn how to sit, stand, and walk in dresses, without worrying about people looking up their skirts.
The arguments I was given against this were numerous, but all essentially insubstantial. And this is where you get to decide whether these things were, indeed annoying, or I am crazy and overreactive, or both. And I get to present my arguments before a rational, logical audience. For the most part (Absolutely Mindy fans are excused).
"If the girls didn't all wear dresses, then there would be no uniformity. Nothing would be the same."
Well, no, that's not quite right. In fact, nothing would change, as far as "uniformity." You'd still have two kinds of uniforms, just like you do now. A pants/polo version, and an uncomfortable dress version.
"We want to treat them differently, because boys and girls are NOT equal."
Um, I think you meant "not THE SAME," there, Sport. Really, this was just an unfortunate slip of the tongue (that he didn't catch), but a pretty classic example of a Freudian slip. And I'm not going to pretend to be disingenuous about his real argument, which was that boys and girls are different, and there are important reasons to embrace this difference. But honestly, does anyone really believe that without external cues like dresses and long hair, little boys and little girls are going to have difficulty with gender-identity? Admittedly, I'm not a sociologist, and maybe I'm giving kids more credit than I'm should. I don't know.
"If we let the girls wear pants, then the boys are going to want to wear shorts, and it's a slippery slope..."
SERIOUSLY? And, also...WHAT?!? Let me get my head around this. Is it that, if the girls get to be as comfortable as the boys, then the boys are automatically entitled to something even better? You're making my argument for me, here. I'm really not sure what this line was supposed to be proving, but it was repeated many, many times, the horror-story of the boys wanting to wear shorts as a reason for keeping the girls in their dresses.
"It's really not a big deal."
This point, I totally concede. It really WASN'T a "big deal." The final question I asked before I just got completely flustered and had to hang up was, "Well, if that is true, and it's really NOT a big deal, then why not just allow the girls an option for pants?" This question resulted in repetition of the Great Shorts Debate, and went nowhere.
Ah, well. Hey, whaddaya know--I DO feel better now. A lot better than when the principal was laughing at me and my objections to the dress-code. OK, he wasn't really guffawing, but was audibly chuckling while telling me, in so many words, how silly I was being (and, just by the by, see what happens when you let girls wear pants? They start TALKING BACK TO MEN).
I did get a little kick out of it every time he tried to tell me how much cooler and comfortable girls' clothes were than boys' clothes. Hmmmm...oh, never mind.
So here's the meat of this post, for those of you who've been through this stage of parenting already, and those of you who teach, and those of you with any further insight: We have until February to enroll Bella in Kindergarten for Fall 2008. (Yeah, that seems like a long time away to some people, I know, but I've already started panicking about Christmas.) Our choice is between enrolling her in the main campus of the school she's now attending, and the public school near us, which is one of, if not the best public school in the area. He'p me, Internets! Where do I begin researching, and how do I find people to talk to who are "in the know" in my area, if I don't know anyone?