October 24, 2011

Kindergarten Conundrum

I'm working myself into a tizzy about the land of kindergarten, where Buckaroo is meant to travel one year from now. We moved to The Woods for many reasons, only one of which was better school choices, but now I find myself reminiscing with some lingering fondness over Sweet P's kindergarten days in California. She spent half days at a neighborhood school, and most parents walked their kids each morning and hung around to chat about the news of the day.

I have several concerns about kindergarten in The Woods, a few of which may be slanderous if I shared them publicly, so I will not. I will share, however, my concern for the overlong school day-- made longer by the 45 minute (each way) bus ride to our little crook of wilderness. I know, I know. Working parents everywhere celebrated over the extended free childcare, and I when I was a single, working, mom, I would have cheered right along beside them. I cringed every month as I wrote that $400 check for Sweet P's full-time preschool/childcare-- and there were months I couldn't afford to write it at all. Fortunately, Sweet P was never given the boot.
But now I'd like to have a choice.

If I'm honest with myself, though, and I do have those moments, I will admit that I have an irrational fear of marauding gangs of five-year-old boys and they ways in which they might cultivate deviltry in my little guy. Hey, we all have our irrational fears, and this is mine. My son is certainly no angel-child, as I'm sure you've gathered if you've spent any time reading this blog, but he has a teaspoon of sweetness at his core, and I'm afraid that public school will force him to bury that tender spot under a mountain of conformity.

I'm working on it. I hope to have let it go by September, 2012, but in the event that doesn't happen Buckaroo and I are dabbling in some homeschool.


I wrote the above post a few weeks ago and didn't have a chance to finish it, but as it happens, life has thrown a long, boring wrench in my plans. The short and short of it is that, as is the case with so many folks, I may not have a choice about this kindergarten business, and Buckaroo will go where so many others have gone before him.

But here's the shaft of light that's keeping me from climbing into my dark cave of despair. Buckaroo decided to take up soccer, and last weekend we ventured out to watch the four- and five-year-old boys bumble around the field. During a break, one pint sized soccer player, whom we'd met once or twice before, reintroduced himself to Buckaroo and gave him a cheek-squishing bear hug.

There are sweet and gentle boys in the world, and they're not all homeschooled, and my best hope is that they will find each other.

October 7, 2011

This Litte Piggy Wore Pink

I am generally a day late when it comes to the media, and sometimes also a dollar short (Hulu, please let me finish last season's Glee-- for free? I'll be your best friend.)

This is something that in hit the scene in April, but I just heard about it while catching up on my Savage Love.  I can't imagine I'm the only slowus pocus in America, so I'm sharing it with you now.

In the full bloom of spring -- maybe not here, but somewhere-- J.Crew ran an ad-ish sort of thing (see it here) featuring their creative director, Jenna Lyons, painting her son's toenails pink, and apparently this created a big hubbub in the conservative community. Some people thought that Lyons was going to make her son gay by dabbing rosy paint on his piggies.

Obviously you can't make someone gay, just like you can't make a gay person straight-- as I'm sure deep down in his heart (or maybe somewhere else?) Marcus Bachmann knows-- so I'm not even going to go there, but here's what I wanted to know: Who said pink is for girls and blue is for boys? Turns out, retailers did, that's who. According to Joe B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls from the Boys in America, until the 1940s pink was considered a strong boy color, and blue was a delicate girl color in the United States, and then a couple of major retailers decided to mix things up.

Why would they do this? My guess is that they wanted to make money, as it is the job of retailers to sell products, and what better way to make money than to tell parents they're dressing their children all wrong, and they need to run out and buy gender-appropriate clothing. Spend more.

As with most fashion trends, Americans bought it-- in more ways than one-- just as we continue to buy every other fashion trend that comes down the chute (myself included, having just bought Sweet P and new pair of skinny jeans).

So the idea that color is related to gender was completely created by our culture. I'll take it even further and say that the idea that only women should have long hair, wear make-up, high heels (that's a whole separate post) shave legs, wear jewelry, carry purses, and that men . . . shouldn't, is created by our culture, our place in time and geographical location and nothing else.

I have two sons, one given, and one by birth, and they have both at times shown a preference for the rosier color. I wasn't present for Obo's birth, but I know that Buckaroo didn't fly out of my womb knowing these cultural rules. If I tell my sons they can't wear pink, or shame them for appreciating it, not only am I squashing their joy, I'm also happily gulping down the other ideas served up by advertising, including a very narrow definition of beauty: young, anorexic, white, straight. Also, don't forget the idea that happiness doesn't come from within, but from what we can own.

Nope. I'm not eating it, and I'm certainly not feeding it to my children.

Kudos to you, Lyons, even if your job is to sell me something I don't need. Buckaroo and I will join you and your sweet boy for a pedicure party any time.

For more reading on this topic, you may also enjoy Wayne Besen's article, "Why I Support J.Crew's Controversial Pink Toenail Ad" at the Huffington Post.