(118 Days to Go)
I want to write and say thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you who signed the guestbook and sent private e-mails offering words of encouragement to Kendrie as she headed back to school on Monday and into what, in her 5-yr old mind, was a social minefield. It truly encouraged us to read so many notes of support for Kendrie no matter what her choice of “looks” might be. The suggestions were all wonderful and several we’ve taken to heart. … and Noah’s mom Lori’s suggestion that Kendrie write “I’m a Girl” on her behind and moon anyone in the bathroom who suggests otherwise was probably the best laugh I had all week. Thanks, Lori!
We did have Child Life come to her school and make a presentation last year and it went extremely well, so it’s something we’re keeping in mind again. Our situation this year is that her elementary school went from 40 Pre-K students, all of whom knew Kendrie and were protective and kind, to 140 Kindergarteners, most of whom have never met her and wonder why a bald-headed kid wearing Spiderman shirts and hiking boots is hanging out in the girls’ restroom. I’d wonder too, if it were me!
Monday morning was bad; Tuesday morning was worse. I spoke with her teachers on Monday and they assured me they would be talking to the other kindergarten teachers. So on Tuesday, I decided to present Kendrie with some options:
Option 1: Start dressing in clothes that are a little more “girly”. That suggestion was greeted with about as much enthusiasm as Bill Clinton at the National Republican Convention. Or the National Organization for Women. Or Monica Lewinsky' family reunion.
Option 2: Wear one of the hats she has in her drawer. She responded that she wasn’t allowed to wear hats to school. I reminded her that she wore a hat the first few months of school last year, and she informed me I was crazy … she did not.
Option 3: How about piercing your ears? I didn’t really think she’d go for this, but someone suggested it in the guestbook so I thought I would throw it out there. Needless to say, the reply was not “No”, but “Hell, No!!”, and it was worth it just to see the look of horror on her face.
So by then, it pretty much boiled down to a) make her unhappy by forcing her to dress in clothes she doesn’t want to wear ….. or b) tell her to toughen up and take responsibility for her choices. If she chooses to wear “boy clothes” then that’s fine …. but she’s not to get her feelings hurt when people think she’s a boy. The only thing about this that rubs me wrong is the whole “It’s not fair” issue ---- if she had a braid halfway down her back she could wear whatever she wanted and no-one would think twice. But combine the camouflage shorts set with her little bald head and voila! ---it’s “Hello, Sonny” and “Hey, little buddy” as far as you can hear.
I don’t think the teasing episodes are happening often. It's more that they happened previously and now Kendrie is afraid of a repeat incident. Sort of “They might make fun of me” as opposed to “They are making fun of me”. I know it happened at least three times, so I’m taking her feelings seriously, but the flip side is that if her head spins around any time I suggest a pink shirt, then there’s only so much I can do for her.
She wore her Camp Sunshine t-shirt on Tuesday and her Lighthouse Retreat t-shirt on Wednesday and told me, “I’ve been wearing cancer t-shirts so the kids would know what is wrong with me but none of them understand!” I didn’t have the heart to explain to her that the vast majority of kindergarteners can’t read yet and have no idea what her shirts say.
So, this morning, as I prepared to spend another fifteen minutes telling her why I refuse to buy her any new Kim Possible tennis shoes, which she somehow thinks will make her appear more feminine than her Dora shoes (???) she suddenly popped up in this camo outfit she stole (er, borrowed) from her friend Kody. To be honest, I was happy to see her in this. She loves it; it’s practically her favorite outfit. I’m choosing to take it as a sign that she’s getting more comfortable in her own skin, and phooey on any of the other kids who don’t get it. And if they continue to not get it, I’m grabbing a marker and taking Lori’s advice after all. :)
Hope you all have a great weekend,
WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: My mom came and had lunch with me today and right there at the table another mom asked “How old is your son?” Aaarghhh! My mom just gave me her special smile, but I can’t wait for this hair to grow back in!
BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I finished my steroids for this month, yippee!!! (I think my parents are more excited about that than I am!)