February 7, 2012 by themommahen
Lots of things start younger these days. The Husband and I have effectively and efficiently crossed the line into middle-age discussions that render us inarguably, inalienably, irregularly, unequivocally and many other adverbs worth of old. Like how kids do things younger these days. And using the term “these days.” Get off our Granny’s and Gramps’ lawn, you rascally kids!
Sorry. Back to kids doing things younger these days. Throw Spirit Week into that bucket. Yeah, Spirit Week – you remember 60’s Day, Sunglasses Day, Crazy Hair Day, Backwards Day, Twin Day – all usually the week leading up to some big rivalry game and brought to you by your Student Council or some other similar organization. Put a notch in the backpack strap, because Hatchling #1 just had her first one. In Kindergarten.
Monday was Camouflage Day, which wouldn’t have been a problem, except we’re not a big camo family. I didn’t figure it would be a huge deal (and wasn’t convinced it warranted a shopping trip) because how many kindergarteners would really be paying attention and participate anyway? But I did find some nice hand-me-down khaki cargo capris in the closet, and paired that with one of the two green shirts I could find. One had the Grinch and the other had Tinkerbell. I went with Tinkerbell since I didn’t want anyone to think she didn’t know that Christmas was over. Always thinking, this mom.
I told her khaki and green were camouflage colors and, always content to wear anything that has a Disney fairy on it, she was fine with it. But she did ask me to be sure and tell her teachers that we didn’t have any real camouflage, because she didn’t want to get in trouble for not following directions. First clue that Spirit Week might be wasted on 5- and 6-year-olds. But I assured her I would, tried to explain the concept of Spirit Week (you don’t have to, you want to!) and we were on our way. We walked into school and it was a sea of greens and browns. We walked into the classroom and H#1 was one of two students who didn’t have something honest-to-goodness camo on. I quickly bent down and reminded her that she was wearing camo colors and if anyone asked, she was dressed to hide in camouflage in Never Never Land. Yes, I really said that.
We did better Tuesday. Tuesday was Crazy Hair Day and, as a child of the 80s, I know a little somethin-somethin about crazy hair. Of course, H#1 didn’t want to do anything too crazy. Another hint that we might be a tad too young to appreciate Spirit Week. So I did a bunch of ponytails and braided the front two. H#1 was down with that. Then I had the brilliant idea to connect the braids so they made a rainbow arch over her head. She reluctantly agreed. Then she looked at the final product in the mirror. Too crazy. Tears. The hair rainbow came down, the tears dried up, we continued on our way. Day two done. Is this it? The beginning of conformity, uniformity and in general just not wanting to be too different from everybody else? In kindergarten? Hoo boy.
The rest of the week was a breeze. Thursday was School Colors Day, and since the colors are teal and purple, pretty much none of the kindergarten boys participated. Not the most popular or available colors on the boys racks at Target and the like. But the girls loved it and were decked out. Friday was Favorite Team Day, and with the UNC/NCSU basketball game the night before, Carolina blue and State red were the colors du jour. We tried to get H#1 to wear a Cubs, Bears or Blackhawks shirt, but she’s a local now and went with Carolina, natch.
Oh, and then there was Wednesday. Tacky Clothes Day. All in all, I thought she actually looked kinda cool. Or maybe I’m confusing cool with cute. But let’s just say that after Crazy Hair Day, I was more than a little surprised that she willingly dressed so goofily. And she was excited about it. In fact, I got her to drag herself out of bed by reminding her it was Tacky Day. Her eyes flew open, she sat straight up and proclaimed, “I can’t wait to be tacky!”
We had a lot of fun getting dressed that morning. I didn’t have to worry about whether things matched or if she’d already worn a certain item, and she was excited to be tacky. Win-win!
“I can’t wait to be tacky!”
“Mmmmm, yeah, today should be fun.”
“Being tacky is funny.”
“It sure is.”
“I wonder if everyone else is going to want to be tacky like me?”
“Probably, sweetie, it’s Spirit Week.”
“I wonder how we’ll choose?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, you’ll just all be tacky.”
“But how can we all be tacky?”
“You just will. It’s Spirit Week.”
“I can’t wait to go outside on the playground and be tacky. Tacky is so fun.”
School drop-off went smoothly. I left my very colorful tacky girl with her very colorful tacky classmates. (Tip of the day: apparently tutus are a popular accessory for tacky day. What a great excuse to be able to twirl all day in a tutu?)
Fast forward to school pick-up. H#1 got in the van, all excited to tell me about Tacky Day.
“Everybody wanted to be tacky. A lot of people had two different shoes and even had their socks on the outside of their clothes just like me! And nobody matched and we all looked crazy!”
“Yep, everybody really looked tacky this morning. All the tutus were funny, weren’t they?”
I was a little worried that, not having a tutu, she would feel left out like Camo Day. But instead she brightened up and said,
“Yeah, they were really funny. Why did people wear tutus? Maybe they were companions.”
“Companions? What do you mean?”
“Tacky doesn’t wear a tutu! So they must have been Tacky’s companions. Remember the companions?”
And that’s when I remembered.
On H#1’s birthday, I took treats to her class for their afternoon snack. H#2 and I got there a little early and the class was in the middle of storytime with the teacher. It was a super cute story about some penguins, and one who was a little different. His name was…you with me now?…that’s right. Tacky .
Tacky the Penguin is an adorable book about Tacky, an “odd bird” who acts very differently than his companions, who (spoiler alert) come to love him when his strange ways scare off some hunters. I had totally forgotten about it, but she, obviously had not, and thought that Tacky Clothes Day was in honor of the book they read in class. And taking it a step further, she was embracing the chance to dress up and act the book out on the playground.
“Yes, I remember the companions, sweetie. What were their names?”
“Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly and Perfect. I don’t think they wore tutus, but maybe they did. I’m just glad I was Tacky.”
Tacky the Penguin, as illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, written by Helen Lester.