Thursday, February 08, 2007

Getting My Daughter Ready For School Is An Adventure

In order to make it possible for my wife to get to work--and back home--earlier, my wife and I changed our schedules around. Now I am the one that wakes up our 7 year old daughter, gets her dressed, gives her breakfast, and brings her to school.

And of course, that is where the trouble begins.

Wednesday morning did not start out well. My daughter finally found what she wanted to wear--a favorite dress with a bear and pom-poms. Cute dress, but it was a bit short on her. Since the hour was late and our area is going through a cold spell, we worked out a compromise after some intense negotiation: this would be the last time she would wear the dress, she would wear pants because of the cold and that would be that.

I brought my daughter to school and drop-off went without a hitch.

Two blocks before I got to work, I got a call and saw that it was from the school.

You should know that so far this school year:
  • My daughter got a nosebleed on the first day of school that could not be stopped and required my taking her to the hospital.
  • She has had strep twice.
  • The third time, when we thought she had strep and got a rash that was diagnosed as Scarlet Fever--it turned out to be something else.
  • Instead of repeated cases of ear infections as in past years--now she gets sore throats.
  • This week a number of teachers have noticed that she is blinking excessively
Out of desperation, I have suggested to the doctor that she give out cards. She could punch a hole in the card after each visit--and you would get the tenth visit for free. Or at least get a free coffee. She was amused, but rejected the idea.

So when I saw that it was the school calling, I expected the worst. Instead, the teacher assured me that my daughter was fine. However my daughter was dressed improperly--her dress was too short.

True, she was wearing pants--and that was OK due to the cold--however because the dress was short on her, the combination of the dress and pants gave the appearance that she was wearing a pants suit.

A pants suit? Not being a maven of women's fashion, I have no idea how a dress and pants can look like a pants suit--especially with a bear and pom-poms. The school asked that I come to school with more suitable clothes. As it turns out, we have steam coming out from under the bathroom sink [doesn't everyone?] and I was planning to come home early in the afternoon anyway to let the plumber in to fix it, so that was no problem.

I was thinking afterward about why I didn't make a bigger fuss. After all, it was the first time. Why not just let her--and me--off with a warning? I think part of the reason was a story I had heard. I'm not sure who told it. According to the story, it once happened that a man who had badmouthed a certain rabbi came to him one day for help because his daughter was considering intermarriage. The rabbi told him the following story:
A doctor was on his way to a particular village, but along the way a robber held him up. The robber threw away his bag with the medicine in it, took his money and ran off. The doctor proceeded to the village. The next day, a man came to the doctor pleading with him to help his sick daughter. The doctor, recognizing the voice of the man, asked him if he was in fact the man who had robbed him the previous day. When the man answered yes, the doctor informed him that he could not help the man. Since the man had thrown away the bag with all the medicine, the doctor was helpless to save the man's daughter.
The rabbi concluded by telling the man in front of him that having badmouthed him, the rabbi would have no influence with his daughter, just as the doctor robbed of his medicine could not save the robber's daughter.

My wife and I have had issues with the school, but we make a point of not badmouthing the school to our daughter. In the same way, I thought that rather than fighting the school on this, the incident would be a learning experience. I wanted my daughter to see that rules in general, and issues of Tziniut (modesty) in particular have meaning--so much so that Abba will leave work to come home early to bring in a change of clothes.

I ended up bringing a black skirt to school for my daughter to wear. I forgot that she was wearing a dress--not a skirt and blouse. In the end she ended up wearing the light blue dress with the black skirt underneath. The things we do to our kids...

My daughter and I had a talk about the incident and about Tziniut--to the degree that a 7 year old has the patience for such things (about 4 minutes). I asked her what Tziniut means. She answered that it means "appropriate"--which is good enough for now.

She and I will have further talks on this and other issues...many other issues.
For myself, I have a growing respect for what it takes to get a 7 year old to school in the morning.

1 comment:

mother in israel said...

I think you did the right thing. School rules can be annoying but we trust them to make the judgment even if we don't always agree. At least in cases where no harm to the child is involved.