To say we are nervous about Michael leaving the protective bubble of our current day care/preschool and entering the big world of elementary in a couple short weeks is an understatement. We want our sparkle boy to be accepted and appreciated for who he is and not bullied into hiding his true identity. This story has two parts so bare with me.
When attending kindergarten open house this past spring to register the boys for school and get information we were handed folders with a ton of information. I glanced through it and then put it aside until later in May. One day I decided I should get a jump start on all the things so I pulled out the supply list. Aside from it being long the other thing I noticed was the first item listed: a pronged two pocket plastic folder, pink for girls and green for boys (available for .50 at Target). I felt my chest tighten and explosions happening all around me. How was I going to handle this?! I quickly stowed the list back in the folder and tucked it away. I was not ready to deal with this.
I thought about the best approach for weeks. Do I draw attention to us already and ask about this? Do I tell my child he has to have the green one and then figure out how to answer his questions when he comes home and asks why do the girls get pink ones? I knew what I had to do but working up the courage was a whole task in itself.
The weeks quickly went by and school was nearing an end. Working in school administration for over 11 years I know that a majority of teachers do not check their emails in the summer (nor should they). I knew I had to reach out before the end of school so I could shop during the summer as planned. With the deadline looming I was forced to draw up the courage and email the three kindergarten teachers and ask the question.
I was terrified. I did not want to start my children’s school career being singled out as “THAT” parent. I’ve had enough experience around administrators, teachers, parents, and students to know how I do and do not want to come across. So, I’m sure I babbled. I prefaced my email explaining our situation. We have a boy who likes pink. They would find he likes to wear pink along with “girl” clothing. I am simply seeking to understand. I was very mindful to not take a defensive or accusatory stance. I simply wanted to understand the reasoning between the two different colors for each gender so I could explain it to my child. I held my breath and hit send.
I almost fell over when I received a response within 20 minutes. My heart jumped when the teacher who replied simply said, “Pink would be perfect!” I breathed the largest sigh of relief. Obstacle number one tackled. I was so happy when we were school shopping and I could confidently hold up the two colored folders and ask the boys which they wanted. Shocker, Patrick wanted green and Michael wanted pink.
Fast forward to this past weekend. Glancing at my phone between running around the house getting projects done I noticed an email from someone unknown and the first few lines shown almost made me think it was junk mail but something told me to open it. It was an email from the teacher who my boys have been assigned to. (Side note: the one I was secretly hoping for because I could just feel from her and her classroom that it would be a good fit for our family. Very colorful, artsy, and eclectic.)
The teacher mentioned they were not supposed to share the class lists yet but was reaching out to ask whether it was Michael or Patrick who liked pink. She was busy getting name tags and such ready and wanted to make sure his were pink. My eyes welled with tears and I could literally feel my heart explode. The simple fact that this teacher had remembered my previous email (I’m sure it’s because I’m on some teacher watch list) and took the time to ask this question could not have put me more at ease. I quickly replied thanking her so much and her reply was simply that she wants all of her students happy and thriving.
I still cry thinking about this. I am going to be this teacher’s biggest fan. My child is going to have an advocate, someone supporting him for who he is and I feel so much better about the start of school.
I know there will still be hurdles. I know other children will say things. But knowing there is one adult, one amazing, open minded teacher on his side is indescribable. I’m not sure she will ever understand the depths of my gratitude but I’ll do my best to show her.