Professor Mom

Chronicles the life of a mom, teacher, and writer trying to stay sane amid the chaos of daily life.

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Lilianpw's picture Lilianpw

wow. I'm nearly speechless. This is a touchy and complex topic indeed. My first reaction was not one of outrage, though, but I immediately thought that the teacher does have a valid point. Whether it's something that L (and you) can comfortably approach is a completely different matter.

And that's why I LOVE school uniforms. Or what we have in our school now -- everyone has to wear any kind of polo shirt (without offensive or pop culture icons). (previous school: solid color polos, black, caqui or navy blue pants).

to be continued...


Lilianpw's picture Lilianpw

part 2:
The other thing is that my sons haven't chosen their clothes until now (6 and 9). When they come shopping with me I may ask if they like something before buying or to choose between two items, but generally, I pick all their clothes for them.

With two exceptions (Bob the Builder & Thomas the train), they haven't worn anything that represents a TV/Disney/pop culture icon. I buy clothes in the off-season clearance racks and I plan ahead to the next year. Linton "inherits" all of his brother's clothes. So, yeah, on these grounds alone, I would get ANGRY to think that I'd have to let my sons wear whatever their classmates are wearing just to "blend in."

But I guess that without school uniforms, the situation becomes more complex. And worse yet with L's sensory issues. :-( Sigh.


Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

When I posted the link to this over on my FB page this morning I was so surprised to get so many thoughtful and interesting responses to this (I wish I could transfer them over here!). Many comments did go along with supporting the teacher's perspective in that there is a sense that as parents we need to help guide our kids to pick up on social cues and norms, to pave the way for them. I think that as long as the child doesn't feel you are criticizing them, and their sense of i ndividuality and personal pride in who they are/want to be, then it's okay--and important--to gently nudge them in the right direction.

It's so hard--I used to love to buy L. clothes but over the years his sensory issues have made things very hard. He won't wear pants with seams, for instance, or pockets that aren't lined. He'll only wear sweat pants in the winter, and those can't have pockets. He won't wear shirts with buttons, etc...the list goes on. :(


mouse's picture mouse

For some odd reason, Scooter's sensory issues do not include clothing (for the most part). His usual outfits fit in pretty well with his peers, although if someone were keeping track, s/he might notice that nearly every t-shirt is Star Wars.

I have major issues with socks and tags. If there's a foreign object in my shoe or some cotton lumps together in my sock, I absolutely have to get it out.

to be continued...


mouse's picture mouse

Third random observation... Where I used to teach, I remember hearing about a boy who had been picked on mercilessly in the younger grades. Initially, he was teased for having skinny legs. Then he started wearing tube socks pulled up over his knees and was teased about that. In retelling the story, one adult said, "If only he would have stopped wearing those socks." But I felt that was an unfair assessment of the situation. He was clearly in a no-win situation since the kids were going to find something to tease him about regardless.

Short version--I really don't know what the answer is. Maybe someday clothing will need to be addressed, but the most important thing right now would be to take care of the teasing at the source.


Omaha Mama's picture Omaha Mama

I have a feeling that this is a HOT topic! Can't wait to read the other comments after I've submitted this...
My B is such an individual. I kid you not, on the way to school this morning she said to me, "I wish I'd lived in the 80's, then I could've REALLY dressed the way I wanted!" Meaning, wacky. I asked her what she even knew about the 80's. She said, I know you dressed weird! True that.

My B dresses very much to her own style, but I definitely steer this. For example, today she's wearing a striped sweater, a bright tshirt, polka dot tights, and her black boots (which she wears every non-p.e. day). She likes to mix colors and prints and textures. I like that. What I have done is purchased "cool" choices for her and taught her to put colors together that work. If something is too outrageous, I hold power of veto. :-)


Omaha Mama's picture Omaha Mama

(Had to comment twice, I'm way too windy today!)

I grew up in a small town and never had the *right* clothes. I know the power (as sad as it is) in a brand name. You'd probably be surprised at the recognition a pair of Nike shorts or a Hollister tshirt may get L. It may seem wrong, but it just is. I know it wouldn't fix everything for L, but maybe it's something you could work on together. It's something I worked with parents of my high school students on. Trying to find alternatives to the sweats they'd lived in their whole lives. Trying to look a little more like a high schooler. There's a tricky balance here because I never wanted to insult someone.

Finding out what he likes and whether it even matters to him might be a good starting point. If it would cut down on teasing, then it may be worth looking into. I'm honestly impressed by that teacher's nerve to even say it. She knew it was going to raise eyebrows...and she was right!


Omaha Mama's picture Omaha Mama

I saw your comment above about L's sensory stuff...which I so get! I'm not against sweats, I feel the need to clarify that. I don't want you to feel further insulted! We had kids going on jobs sites and interviews so found appropriate attire for that that they could also handle the feel of! If that makes sense. L's look is sporty, you could say, and work with that.
:-) We tell our B, not every kid has to be the most popular, the best, etc. It's about how you treat people and how you are treated in return. Even if L doesn't change one piece of clothing in his wardrobe, teasing/bullying is NOT his fault for being different!


Aliki McElreath's picture Aliki McElreath

I think you're right, Omaha--just adding some little things--type of shoe, etc. can make a huge difference. The odd thing is L. loves to dress up! He has a three-piece suit, pieced together from thrift store finds--that he loves to wear, and lots of hats, too. But his sensory issues really drive what he wears at school.

Mouse, I think the sad thing is that some kids are targets for teasing and other kids are going to find something to tease them about no matter what.