Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Another Ordinary Day at Our Fine School ...

... which means there's another Very Special Event. At Our Fine School, every day is a special day. Today in Will's class, it's English Tea Party day. They've been studying England for a month now, and today is where it all culminates in a feast of strawberries and clotted cream. Pity the child dressed in white.

The children dress up for their English Tea Party. Well, some of them do. I laid out a very nice button-up shirt and khakis for Will last night. This morning he came down wearing the khakis ... and a striped rugby shirt. It has a collar, which apparently Mrs. B said was the main criteria. "Kids don't have to dress up!" her e-mail said, so when Will came downstairs looking casual but observing the letter of the law, I let it go, knowing full well that today the kindergarten hallways would be filled with mini-Ralph Laurens.

Of course, the minute we pulled up in the drop-off lane at school this morning, I regretted my decision. Tiny Cinderellas in poofy pink crinolines with diamond tiaras on their heads were tripping out of minivans; little boys dressed as though off for their Oxford tutorial gallantly exited SUVs. Will, on the other hand, looked as though he were headed to the corner bar for a beer.

I know he won't care when he gets to his classroom and is surrounded by the future members of the Harvard Law Review in their navy jackets and red ties. So why do I care? I don't know. I guess I worry Mrs. B will take one look at Will and consider calling social services. He's a neglected child! His mom didn't make him wear a tie to the tea party.

Listen, I barely made my husband wear a tie to our wedding. But that being the case, I still often regret my lack of effort at times. I have arrived underdressed to more than one dress-up occasion. I have too often treated lightly things that should have been approached with dignity and respect.

I guess the question is, does the Kindergarten English Tea Party count as such an occasion? Should I have wrestled Will into a button-down shirt and a tie?

I don't know. I've got a life to live, man. And a lot of that life is dedicated to the health, well-being and happiness of my children. I just wish a little less were devoted to costuming them.


Angela said...

Most of the English Men I know round here would think a [clean] rugby shirt was Very Appropriate for an english tea party! What sort of England has your child's teacher told them that we live in? To be properly English means Impeccable Manners at the tea party - and you can wear your Old Etonian Tie to in place of a belt to hold up your trousers! My beloved [who is an MA from Oxford, and once had tea with the Late Queen Mother] spent yesterday drinking tea with his parishioners- whilst wearing a rugby shirt and jeans. I hope Will had a wonderful day. You sound like a great caring mum [sorry, 'mom'] and your son's gear was Authentically English in my book.
Blessings xx

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Thank you, Angela! I'm going to forward your comment to Mrs. B, in case she's thinking mean thoughts about me.

I think the England they're studying in kindergarten is filled with double-decker buses and bobbies and kings and queens. And everybody dresses to the nines all the time and sticks out their pinkies when they hold their tea cup. That England. Isn't that what it's like where you live?

Tracy said...

Frances you seem to have far more dress up events than any family could cater for! Although an English tea party sounds like lots of fun.

I hope Will had a great fun time. At the end of the day as long as he's happy that's all that matters.

Ali said...

Oh, I'm hopeless too - can barely dress myself, let alone the boys.

But it does embarrass me from time to time - I met the immaculately dressed Crown Prince of Japan in flip flops at an Embassy do once. Not my finest hour.

What can I say, we Brits are a scruffy lot - Will would fit right in!

Victoria said...

Definately you did the Right Thing... keeping it real at kinder, someone has to do it...

Anonymous said...

Excuse me while I spit out my tea in a huge spray of disbelief...! I wonder why your kids are being taught about England as if it is still the 1900s? Not only that, but why are Americans taught that England is the whole of Britain? There is Scotland, Ireland and Wales too, which make up the whole of the United Kingdom...(that tiny island the size of a cake crumb on the world map.)

We don't generally have tea-parties any more. Most people grab a coffe at Starbucks, sad to say.

Unfortunately we are not as quaint as people believe! :)

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Tracy, You wouldn't believe how many dress-up days we have! Last week was Wacky Retro Day for Jack (he dressed up like a hippie, like everybody else), and today was Come in Your PJs day for Will. It never ends.

Ali, I will treasure your story of meeting the Prince in your flip-flops, because that is exactly the sort of thing that would happen to me, and it's so nice to know I'm not alone.

Victoria, Keeping it real at kinder is my goal. I am alone in this at Our Fine School, needless to say, but I will try to stand tall and stay true.

Tina, Yes, we're definitely into the fairy tale version of the UK over here, which means only England and only tiaras and tea parties. Of course, I went to London once and everyone was dressed as cowboys, and I wondered what they imagined life in the US was really like! Maybe everyone needs to get out of the house a bit more ...

Angela said...

Reading these comments, I realise how quickly we Brits leap to defend ourselves!!
But then when I was at school I thought most of the women in the USA either dressed like Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jackie Kennedy.

Dulce Domum said...

I often feel that way about the way my kids dress/I dress my kids. I don't believe they have anything properly smart or formal in the house, they have nice clothes, but I tend to buy for practicality and comfort, as I'm sure you do too. Who the heck can afford a brand new smart outfit just for a primary school fun day? Aah! However, I've often turned up to kids' parties and realised that that pretty jean skirt and jumper paled in comparison to the full-blown Alice in Wonderland treatment complete with white shoes.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Dulce, I think this sort of thing has got to be harder for sensible mothers of daughters, what with the opportunities to go overboard that so many parents refuse to pass up!

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