October 16, 2012
The Post In Which Steph Overthinks "Nerd Day"
Posted by Steph
As I've mentioned, Hubby is a high school English teacher. We are fortunate enough to send Chica to a preschool that is actual run inside his high school (and our alma mater!). It's a fantastic program which is run by the Child Development teacher (under the department of Family and Consumer Sciences), and high school kids take the course as an elective. Chica is there for 3 hours, several days a week. And each hour, she has her own personal high school kid Big Teacher.
It's pretty much the best program ever.
Well, this week is the high school's Homecoming Week. As many of you know, this means that the week leading up to Homecoming is Spirit Week. Each day of the week is themed, and kids and faculty dress the part for each theme. The themes are generally light-hearted and fun: Pajama Day, Western Day, 60's Day, Weird Hair Day, etc. Since the preschool program would be running during some of the Spirit Week Days, the kids were invited to dress up as well.
Yesterday, I worked on making Chica a Flower Child for 60's Day. She had long boot-cut jeans, a loose linen top and her hair was in low-tied pigtails with a hairband around the top of her head. I would have painted a peace sign on her cheek, but didn't think eyeliner would easily wash off.
Last night, we were putting our heads together for what she would wear for today, Nerd Day. Hubby suggested getting fake sunglasses and popping out the lenses. We discussed suspenders, hiked up pants, high-set pigtails, pocket protectors and maybe a sign that read, "Did I Do That?"
This morning, I was helping Chica get ready for school. I grabbed a pair of pants that were too short, and hiked them up high. I tucked her shirt in, and sought out a belt. I grabbed mismatched socks, and was digging around for a pair of sunglasses. I felt this weird feeling, a thought nagging me in the back of my mind. The more I put together her outfit, the more it bothered me. I couldn't shake it, until finally the idea that was rubbing friction on my brain surfaced. I couldn't bring myself to let Chica dress up for Nerd Day.
Because it was wrong.
Thoughts of my childhood flashed by, and I remembered quite easily the reality of being the picked-on kid. Was I bullied? No. But I was awkward, shy, and unfashionable. Kids are cruel, and during my elementary years, it took me a long time to gain friends. There was a point in middle school I blossomed, and by high school I was a social butterfly. But in the beginning, I was the nerd.
My reality changed, but for so many kids time only makes things worse. We live in an age where bullying is an epidemic, and we are losing precious lives because of it. How could I send my daughter in to essentially make fun of someone's fashion sense, someone's personality, someone's lifestyle?
It pained me to realize that "Nerd" is left up to interpretation. In school today many were dressed as the classic Nerd: brainy, awkward, fashion-clueless caricatures a la Revenge of the Nerds. But that is an historic take on the word. What if someone took today to poke fun at someone of a different race? Someone of a different gender? Someone of a different sexual orientation? Someone of a different religion? The more I thought about it, the more I felt bad at the idea of anyone feeling marginalized.
I kept thinking about the kids who walked into school this morning, looking around at an entire school full of insulting costumes of themselves?
How did they feel?
As we were changing Chica's outfit this morning, she said, "I'm glad I'm not wearing that outfit. I wanted to dress beautiful." And I wanted to cry. Why would I ever want my daughter to equate being smart with being ugly? I hope I can work on teaching my daughter to see the beauty in all things, in all people. That love and understanding would go a long way in this world.
So, yeah. I know I may be overthinking Nerd Day. I don't fault the school or anyone who participated in it (including Hubby!). And I trust that the day went by with little fanfare, just another fun day to dress up for Spirit Week.
But I also hope that we can start extending more grace and light where hate and darkness reside. That we can begin to process how our thoughts and actions affect others.
And maybe that just starts with Nerd Day.