Thursday, August 23, 2007

Uniformity. It's just so... uniform.

This past Monday marked Miss B's first day of school. This year she's in first grade. Can you believe it? My little girl is growing up. And frankly, I want it to stop.

But as I have yet to master the skills/powers necessary to stop the passage of time, I pretend to be happy that my sweet little baby is becoming a young lady. I know that first grade is a long way from college, but I know how it works. One day it's first grade, the next it's her first boyfriend, and the day after that she's moving into a dorm. Luckily Sister Goldenhair has no desire to grow up. She refuses to accept the title of "big girl," instead saying, "I baby."

But this is Miss B's milestone. For not only is this the first year that she's in real school full time, this is also the first time she's had to wear a uniform to school. I don't know where you stand on uniform policies. If you're like me, you hadn't given them much thought. My daughter goes to public school. Then the school board started talking about uniforms and started a pilot program.

In principal I don't have anything against uniforms. I was greatly annoyed at the manner the school board adopted this policy. Notices of meetings to gather input were sent home with students the night of the meeting. I found myself having to miss this event or try to attend with two hungry children. Have you ever tried to calm a hungry toddler? It's not pretty.

There have been protests, angry outbursts at school board meetings, and an ill-advised lawsuit all trying to stop the uniform requirements from being implemented. The town newspaper has become a battlezone, its pages full of letters and its website full of anonymous vitriol. The arguments for uniforms are from parents who claim they are more affordable. Even a recent editorial cheers them for being cheaper than designer clothes. And since new clothes have to be bought, this isn't as expensive as the detractors are saying it will be.

Here's my issue with that arguement: I do not, nor have I ever, bought designer clothes for my kids. I watch for sales and haunt the clearance racks. I even sew several things for the girls. Another consideration is this: a lot of parents do not go out and buy a new wardrobe each fall. My kids continue to wear older things that fit.

So now Miss B, the girliest of girls, has to dress like all the guys. Sure, she can wear skirts and jumpers, but the tops all look the same. What's a girly-girl to do? Hope her mom and grandmas can sew, that's what. While I have enough khaki, black, and navy blue fabric to sew for an army, Mimi has made the most significant contribution to girliness.

Mimi has made 5 of a projected 10 shirts. Each is made of richly colored broadcloth. Since our schools allow any solid-colored top, we are taking full advantage of the possibilities. While Miss B can no longer wear her adorable butterfly tunic T, she is sporting turquiose, purple, lilac, hot pink, or mint green shirts with decorative stitching. My focus is on bottoms, and some are forthcoming. But khaki capris pale in comparison with a hot pink shirt.

Uniforms aren't all bad, but it does feel like the many are paying for the crimes of the few (and you hoochies and gangstas know who you are). I'm glad we've found a way for Miss B to follow the rules and follow her heart.

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