Tuesday is G’s “share” day in Kindergarten. Every day during morning meeting, three or four students get to tell about something exciting that’s going on their lives, or bring in something from home. Most kids can do this spontaneously. G needs a little extra support, so we usually talk about it on Monday night. If there is something that G wants to share, I write it in his Communication Log so that the teachers can help fill in the details if G gets stuck on the words.
Most of the time on Monday night, after a few minutes of discussion, G will finally settle on one of the topics that I suggest. “Why don’t you tell your friends about our trip to the Children’s Museum this weekend?” “Maybe your friends would like to see the picture you drew of your race cars?” Last Monday night, it was a different story. I brought up the topic of share day at dinner. Without a word, G left the table and raced up the stairs. He came back moments later clutching the stuffed owl he had received for his birthday. “I bring my owl,” G crowed gleefully. “I bring my owl because he is sparkly, and squaggly and byooful!” (Ed note: squaggly is a word G made up that means super cuddly. Byooful is G’s pronunciation of the word beautiful.)
Here’s the thing. G is absolutely correct. G’s owl is beautiful. It is one of those decorate-it-yourself animals. G pulled out all the stops when he decorated. He turned it from simple pink and purple fabric into an explosion of hearts, glitter and sparkle.
For the record, I don’t believe in boy’s toys or girl’s toys (or clothes, or professions, or academic interests, etc.) I believe that all kids should have the freedom to choose the things that interest them. I also believe that kids should be taught to respect the choices their friends make. I firmly believe that when a kid feels like there is something wrong with him because he does not share interests with his peers, and he feels he has to pretend or lie in order to gain acceptance…. It’s a recipe for all sorts of trouble. I would not want my child to tease another child for their choices in toys, activities and clothes. In my house, we talk about differences and the things that make each of us unique. But that’s my house. It made me a little nervous sending my six year old boy to school with his sparkly pink owl… but I sucked it up and sent it anyway.
Here’s how the conversation went at drop-off on Tuesday morning.
G: I brought in my owl for share today. He’s so squaggly and byooful!
Teacher: That’s great. I’m sure your friends will be happy to see him.
G: Some boys like things that are cool. I like things that are byooful.
Teacher: I know lots of boys who like things that are beautiful.
G: Yeah, me too. I like things that are byooful too.
And that was it. As parents we can talk until we’re blue in the face about acceptance and understanding… but kindergarten is where the rubber meets the road. In my mind’s eye, I can picture G sharing his squaggly, pink owl with his friends. I can picture his teacher encouraging the kids to ask questions and admire. And I believe that the seed of believing that it’s okay to like whatever it is you like is planted within each of those children. We don’t have to amend or censor the things we love, even if those things don’t fit in to what other people think is cool.
Also for the record, G has a wide range of things that interest him… as evidenced below.
Here is the infamous squaggly pink owl. He is inscribed, “I am wearing love glasses because I love you” and “I love you so much” and “We love each other”.
Here is a picture of G’s fighter squadron plane. When he learned that the purpose of the plane was to shoot at other planes during a war, he renamed it the Peace Plane and wrote “I love you” on the wings and tail. Now instead of fighting, the Peace Plane spreads love and joy.
But if I were to leave you with the impression that every waking hour is filled with peace, love and sparkly owls, I wouldn’t be telling you the whole story. As a parting shot, I leave you with a picture G made while he was practicing his surveying and graph skills at home. The survey question is “How much of you like butts?” The survey results were (not surprisingly): the two kids in our house like butts, and the two grownups (“gronups”) do not like butts. These results have launched G on a campaign for a new kid in our house. So there will be more people who like butts.
And that is my wonderful six-year-old in a nutshell. He loves beautiful things. He wants peace not war. And he likes butts.