Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
A few months back, my kids celebrated their 50th day of school, and as such, students were encouraged to dress up in 1950s style dress. At face value, this is a wonderfully cute idea and I would be lying if I didn’t think that our five-year-old looked completely adorable as a little greaser. That being said, I am also over theme days at my kids’ school.
“1950s Day” came after six days in a row of themed days. First was Red Ribbon Week, which I think used to mean something about not doing drugs, but has somehow morphed into various dress-up days and positive platitudes to encourage the students. While the school’s intentions are well-meaning, the overall impact on this mama is stress as I try to come up with various themed outfits for three kids, without driving all over town or spending any additional money.
Sure, some days are no brainers like “Pajama Day” or “Team Sport Jersey Day,” but others like “International Day” has me scanning Amazon Prime like a madwoman. I think I need to create a FaceBook Swap with other elementary school parents where were can help each other out for days like this: “I will trade you one bottle of red temporary hair spray for ‘Crazy Hair Day’ if you can loan me your Gryffindor tie for ‘Book Character Day.'” “Done.”
Or what about the times you try really hard to participate and it doesn’t pan out? Just talk to my friend who made awesome unicorn hair for her daughter. She didn’t think anyone would notice the internal structure of her creation was made with tampons—genius! Well, the kid played all day at school and by the time pick up rolled around, her hair had fallen down, exposing the tamps. This sweet child had been blissfully running around school all day unknowingly displaying her mom’s resourcefulness and undoubtedly confusing some staff members with the way she had interpreted “Crazy Hair.”
Sure, we can opt out of each and every one of these days, but you haven’t met my kids. They are the definition of participators. On the eve of “1950s Day,” our son came home stressing that I hadn’t seen the flyer and wondering if a white t-shirt was really allowed and did I have a leather jacket for him? Um, no son. No. Our dress-up box rolls pretty deep after years of Halloweens and Red Ribbon Weeks, but I have no leather jacket for you. Try this hair gel. Trust me.
Before you write me off as a School Spirit Hater, I am someone who coaxes her whole family into a themed Halloween costume every year. I love our school and spend a fair amount of time volunteering there. Even I am reaching my limit and that is saying something.
Here’s the real issue. I am tired and this whole thing is rigged with expectations and potential pitfalls. As is, I’m struggling to keep up with who-has-what-due-when. Throw in a whole week of dress-up themes and you have given me more places to screw up. I am bound to not have something for each kid for each day, or forget till the night before and scramble. Is it worth the time, money and effort to get something appropriate? Does my kid even care? Better yet, is my kid going to reject my ideas on how to tackle a particular day? Even worse, what if they want unicorn hair? That is an argument I don’t even want to engage in.
Then there is the mama guilt. There are always parents who don’t get the memos, their kids don’t dress up and they feel terrible about it. They look at my decked out child and think they failed in some way. In those moments, I want to shake us both. Me for spending so much time, energy and already diminished mental bandwidth on it, and them for feeling like it was really important.
Reality is the dress-up days aren’t going away and for the most part, the kids do love them, but can we all try and remember that they don’t really matter? And our kids aren’t going to look back and say, “That day you made my hair look like a cupcake really does help me remember that I am crazy about making positive choices!” Not likely. If anything, they may remember a silly day at school or if we are lucky, the effort you put into it.
Just when I feel like I have made peace with it all, I check my email. “Next week is Book Fair and the theme is ‘Enchanted Forest’ and you are all encouraged to dress-up… ” FFS. Anybody have an extra set of fairy wings I can borrow?
Originally Posted on Mommy Nearest