I feel like I owe everyone an update on school and dresses and my own state of self-inflicted insanity.
My oldest has worn dresses/skirts/tutus every single day to first grade, and big surprise – it’s a complete non-issue. Getting over that first day was a hurdle, y’all. But just for my partner and me. My kid wasn’t nervous or self-conscious at all. He’s thrived, clothing has been a non-issue, he doesn’t seem to have been twirling down hallways or distracted by his flowing clothing (which was a concern for us) and he hardly talks about it.
He pushes my buttons, that’s for sure. Occasionally he’s put together unbearable combinations of long skirt with a tutu over it and sparkly sweater vest over a tie-dyed t-shirt. Talk about looking like a drunk, homeless Dolly Parton rustling through a box of discarded Goodwill hand-me-downs. The couple of times this has happened and he asks me “can I wear this?” and I have the wherewithal to stop my eye roll and say, “Sure,” he changes and tones it all down. Even he knows it’s too much.
The first day of school there was no issue he wanted to share with us. The next morning I walked with him, hand-in-hand, and said, “Did anyone say you had a nice tutu?”
“One boy said in the bathroom, ‘Don’t call him a girl! Don’t call him a girl! He’s a boy who likes to wear dresses.’”
I bristled. I couldn’t glean the context and I immediately got defensive that this was a bad situation. But I asked, “How’d that make you feel?”
“Good. He was my friend.”
(Oh. Gavin: check your defenses. I need to tell myself that one hundred times/day.)
Apparently some kid might’ve said “boys can’t wear dresses,” at another time on day one, because my kid went on to say, “And another girl said, ‘don’t say that. Anyone can wear whatever they want.’”
“Wow,” I said. “I like that girl.”
“Me, too. She’s my new friend.”
Previous to the start of school, our son asked at bedtime, “Which bathroom do I use?”
I was not prepared for that, though I should’ve been. In first grade, my son will be on the school’s 3rd floor with gender-segregated bathrooms. I completely dodged that question because I had no real answer. But by day two of school, he’d solved his own problem.
One breakfast, he mischieviously (and elatedly) told me, “My teacher let me take the girls’ bathroom pass, today.”
“Oh. How did that happen?”
“I asked to go potty and she said, ‘do you want the boys’ pass or the girls’ pass?’ So I got the girls’ pass.”
We’re entering a whole new world.
On week two, our teacher requested a conference, “Not that anything is wrong. All’s been fine. I just to make sure we’re on the same page.”
During our teacher conference, the teacher basically asked, “Do you want me to correct your son when the class confuses pronouns? Because they basically think he’s a girl, right now.”
My partner and I looked at each other. This would’ve elicited an immediate negative response a year ago – probably from both of us. But this time, we shrugged.
We talked about the bathroom issue and the teacher told me, “Your son has asserted what makes him feel comfortable and he asked to go to the kindergarten floor where the bathrooms aren’t segregated. In that bathroom, there’s one stall not marked for girls or boys. He uses that one.”
I started to cry.
This process is often frustrating. I’m sick of my son’s entire focus being sparkles, glitter, pink, Barbie, princess, twirly, tiaras. (But I’d be annoyed with that if I had a daughter, too. It’s just so all-consuming.)
But I’m relieved, grateful, proud and thrilled that my kiddo knows how to take care of himself and assert his desires and is grown up enough to say, “I’m just gonna be my awesome self and sold my own problems.”
That’s definitely what he’s doing – being his awesome self.
See? I told you there was never anything to worry about.