I sent my big girl to preschool decked out in UK blue and white yesterday. And just in case you think by saying "I've joined the masses" I'm referring to the Big Blue Nation, you are only partially right.
Let me back up to Valentine's day. Big girl's class was having a party. She was supposed to take Valentine's cards for each boy and girl in her class. I, forgetting that my "baby" is now big enough to share in such decisions, grabbed a box of "My Little Pony" cards at Kroger and marked that task off my to-do list.
When baby-turned-big-girl saw the box she protested: "Mommy, we are supposed to make the cards." She then went on to describe how we should apply cotton balls to red heart doilies, which, to my knowledge, she had never seen in her life. Okay. Back to the store for red heart doilies. And after three days of what seemed like non-stop crafting, she had finally created twelve doily valentines that met her standards.
Then Aunt Sissa visited. Sissa (so nicknamed by one of our nephews) is one of the creative sisters I told you about in a previous post. She always brings some fun crafty activity, or two, for the girls to do. This visit was no exception. She brought lips to stick on blow-pop suckers so that when you are eating the sucker, other people only see these great, big, red lips. She had also printed little tags that read, "Happy Valentine's Day" which needed to be glued onto the sticks (to hold the lips in place) and signed by big girl.
So, now we have "My Little Pony" cards, a dozen doilies, and more than a dozen blow-pop valentines. Though I had been perfectly content to send my big girl to preschool with prefab cards to which she simply signed her name, now we suddenly looked like over-achievers with three valentines all sealed up in sandwich-sized zip-locs.
I was thoroughly convinced that she would be the only kid in her class who had over-done preschool valentines. I worried about how it might make the other kids feel who were only giving little cards when she was giving little goody bags. I even worried that other parents would think, "Who is this mom? Why is she trying to be such a show-off?"
I was so very wrong. Big girl came home from her preschool party with a white paper sack STUFFED FULL of valentines--cards attached to suckers, pencils, stickers, stamps, candy, cookies...I don't even remember what all was in there. As I realized elaborate valentines were par for the course, some worries evaporated: (1) the other kids were obviously not made to feel bad by my daughter's valentines and (2) the other parents were not going to be accusing me of showing off since their children's valentines were comparable. (If anything, our valentines were modest in comparison, but I'm trying to avoid such silly comparisons.)
With those worries gone, a new worry slipped in the tiniest crevice of my brain for the briefest moment: Is this what will be expected of us for every party or special event?
I quickly dismissed this thought and moved forward. Until "color" day. This is the day that the children dress in the focus color of the month. The first color day that concerned me was green day. We were out of our normal routine that particular morning so my man helped big girl choose her outfit, and she chose an orange dress. By the time I saw the reminder on my phone, "Wear green," it was too late. But...alas! We were saved! Her dress had green and yellow flowers on it. After pointing this out, I shipped her off to preschool with confidence.
That afternoon, she matter-of-factly informed me that she was the only one in her class that did not have green on. When I reminded her that she had green in her dress, she responded with a look that very clearly said, "That is not the same thing."
The next color day was purple. Being a Facebooker, I am also friends with some of the mommas of the other kids in my daughter's class. One posted a picture of her daughter decked out in purple...purple shirt, purple bow, purple necklace, purple nail polish...
My girl wore a purple shirt.
This brings me to the point, finally. Two days ago, my daughter's teachers sent home a note which said, in essence, "In celebration of the NCAA championship games, please have your child wear a tee shirt in support of their favorite sports team." Being the sports lover that a I am...not...I somewhat dismissed the letter. Knowing we didn't own a single piece of clothing that had anything to do with sports, I shrugged and thought we would probably not participate in the "celebration." We being my big girl and me.
Then Wednesday night rolls around and suddenly I realize this has very little to do with me. I am about to send my big girl into a setting where she will once again be the "only one in her class that did not have _____ on." I actually start to panic. So, I join the masses--the masses of parents that will do anything for their kids to feel accepted and part of the group--and I make a midnight run to Wal-Mart.
Midnight. I am one of about ten people in the store and I find the only two UK clothing articles that are still available for preschoolers. I buy them both.
Here she is, sporting her choice of the two little BOY'S shirts I found...
(Please don't tell her this came from the boy's department!)
But what you can't see in the picture is the UK hair bow and the blue sparkle finger nail polish. (She wanted to paint her toenails too, but since she has to wear tennis shoes to school, I drew the line at finger nails. After all, I maintain some serious boundaries. Or perhaps I have some serious issues with boundaries, as this get-up teeters dangerously on the side of an over-achiever.)
I know I am not the only parent that made a last-minute run to Wal-Mart to keep their child from feeling excluded. The sales associate that helped me locate the last of the UK items said she had just helped another parent the night before; he, too, had told her he was shopping for his child to have something to wear to preschool.
Why do we do it? We want our kids to feel secure in their God-given uniqueness, happy to stand out as an individual, willing to go against the flow when necessary and yet we (and I mean me) will do anything to keep them from feeling alone in a crowd.
I pray constantly that my girls will be willing to do what is right and good even if they are the last ones left standing. And, yet, I can not even send them into a very safe preschool environment if I think they are going to be dressed differently!
The up side to this depressing look into my weakness is this: daddy is happy she has a UK shirt to don during the Final Four. And she looks awfully darn cute.