Thursday, August 22, 2013

School: the first week

After my last post, I gathered a little more information about Bean's school in order to know what to expect.  First, I met Bean's teacher.  She told me she'd had a little boy two years ago who wore princess dresses every day, and used a princess backpack.  She said he had zero issues with the kids in the class - they still don't really care.  I asked her about the bus, since Bean was so excited about riding it, but he'd be on the bus with older kids.  She said the principal really doesn't put up with intolerance.  Part of the school's mission statement is valuing diversity, and the whole school really takes that commitment seriously.  This brought me a lot of relief, knowing that not only was the school walking their mission statement's talk, but that bullying and teasing would be addressed.  And Bean's teacher said it was addressed in a way that built community and relationships.  Perfection.

Then a friend passed along from a local realtor that artsy/hippy families often move into this area so their kids can go to this particular elementary. 

And then I happened to meet a fifth grade teacher from Bean's school who said she would tell her students to watch out for the boy wearing the skirt and the armor.  She also said that bullying was about the only thing kids got suspended for at the school. 

So, for his first day of school, Bean wore his Lego Star Wars shirt, his smooth-and-shiny-like-metal basketball shorts, and carried along his Hello Kitty backpack with rainbows and sparkles.  Both The Beast and I had discussed with him ways to respond (or not respond, which is The Beast's preferred method) if anyone questioned his choice of backpack.  But at that point, we were all feeling pretty relaxed about it.

So off he went.  When I picked him up at the bus stop, he was SO JAZZED.  It was amazing.  He loved school.  He couldn't wait to ride the bus again.  He said it was "SO AWESOME!" He told me about some of the things they did, a story they read, and mentioned that "everyone loved my backpack. Except one person. She thought it was really weird, but she didn't seem very...skilled? Or something?" I have no idea what he was trying to communicate, but clearly the backpack was not an issue for his peers.

One day, Bean wore a tank top over a swim shirt to school.  "Why are you wearing layers, buddy?" I asked, thinking maybe it was to look like something he'd seen in a book or movie...."Because I like the way it looks," came the answer.  Is there a better answer than that?

And yesterday, Bean went to school in a swim shirt, rainbow leggings, Seahawks socks, and running shoes.  As he headed out the door, I told him I was concerned that he would be too hot.  Sure enough, that was his only complaint when he came home.  He even told me about spending time with "some older kids" and that they were nice and it was all really fun. 

Then he sat down and said "can we make a card for my teacher?  I want it to say that I am really glad to be a kindergartener." 

So until we move and switch schools, I am so at ease with my kiddo wearing what he wants and encouraging his flare and creativity.  I am grateful that he will always have this as his first school experience - a positive, affirming, comfortable memory.  If we move somewhere less accepting, at least he might know that he is not the problem.

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