Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Dress in Your Sunday Best"

It's Lutheran Schools Week. You didn't know?


Yes, we're celebrating how God has richly blessed our Lutheran schools with His love and care for over 100 years, and Luke is proudly the third generation to attend the same Lutheran school attended by my mom, my aunt, my brother, and myself. That's a rare legacy that I'm proud to pass onto my child, though I don't always jive with ultra-conservative, fundamentalist Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod practices and policies.

Pastor spoke, in his sermon over the weekend, how the Bible being present, the Word of God, actively used in our school, separates us from other public and some other parochial schools. At first, when he asked the congregation what book separates us from all other schools, I assumed he'd bring up Luther's Small Catechism, which is literally taught to be memorized in it's entirety during your coursework at the school, and it's intensive. (And it ain't a "small" book.) But instead, he brought up the Bible, which to my knowledge anyway, is taught in all Christian parochial schools, though I don't know to what extent. (Lutherans LOVE the Bible. Just don't get me going on that Noah's Ark "story", which modern science has debunked...)

Anyway, back to Lutheran Schools Week and it's associated funzies because I'm a good Lutheran girl who accepts Christ as her Savior, who's kid is getting more annoyed with my listening to Hindi chants more and more every day. Hare, Hare, Luke!

In celebration, each day was a dress-theme day. Monday was Pajama Day, where my son, who wears a pair of boxers to bed every night, was sent in sweatpants and a t-shirt out of modesty. Other kids showed up in matching Scooby Doo pajamas with bathrobes and slippers, which would not only embarrass my son completely but come on, he's 12. If we were Jewish, next year, he'd be formally declared A MAN. If he wants to wear boxers to bed, God bless him. He dismisses the function of slippers and doesn't see the point of a robe.

Tuesday was Career Day, where you were supposed to dress in your (current, you know how kids change their minds) dream profession's wardrobe. Luke chose "Professional Nerd." Because where he's at now, he doesn't know if he wants to become a scientist of some nature (he loves tinkering and building machines, doing experiments, and has half a dozen t-shirts, all to the effect of "Why Am I Still Talking When There's Science To Do?") or a professional film maker. And how does a film maker dress? That depends if he wants to be Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese, or Paul Thomas Anderson for that matter. (The above photo is his professional nerd outfit.) As I said before, Luke is one of those rare individuals who uses both sides of his brain equally, so he's freakishly good at both left and right-brain tasks (see blog "My #1 Fan?"). He's the product of two exclusively right-brain parents, who are wicked creative but suck at math, while he excels. And we've dealt with the nerd vs. geek debate already (see the blog "A Question that Requires No Answer.") I say we're geeks, he says we're nerds. That's still subject of contention.

That brings us to today, Dress in Your Sunday Best Day. I'm a firm believer that God could give two shits about what you wear to church if you're there to praise Him. It's not what you wear, it's what you do and how you feel. So no, I don't make Luke, nor do I typically, unless it's a major holiday, go all-out to dress for church, when God's lucky if I break out a skirt. By virtue of my musicianship, I sort of *have* to wear pants to play drums, because I'm not Sheila E. and don't need the congregation staring between my legs when I'm trying to do "We Want To See Jesus Lifted High" with a straight face. (A lot of people do dress up, every Sunday, which I never understood but was made to as a child, so there's that element of rebellion in me.)

This rare wave of conservatism came over me, and I decided on Monday that Luke should wear his Communion suit to school, though he needed a new dress shirt and tie, which I couldn't find and probably didn't fit him anymore anyway. In the Boys' department, all I could find was a size 20 boy's dress shirt with a clip on tie, because otherwise I was going to buy a regular tie and make Tatus pre-tie it for me last night, so I bought the ensemble, came home, un-did the shirt and showed it to my mom.

Neither of us thought the shirt would fit Luke. The neck size was too small, yet the sleeves too long, while the width of the middle was too constricting. Fail. We compared it to dressy sweaters he had for sleeve length, to other long-sleeved shirts he owned that weren't oversized. The shirt was deemed return-worthy and we had our doubts that his Communion suit would even fit him this year (he's getting a lot taller).

(Why I went along to conforming to the rules of the Lutheran Schools Week Dress Up Days in the first place is beyond me. I detest authority and conformity of all kinds, though shit, I didn't want him to feel weirded out not doing what his friends were doing. Perhaps out of consideration for Luke.)

So this morning, working on 5 hours' sleep and lucky he got a lunch made to eat today, I picked out one of his dressy sweaters and a pair of navy chino pants that we bought for him at the beginning of the school year, when the school hemmed and hawed over a new dress code. First, the kids couldn't wear collarless shirts. Then they could. Then they couldn't wear jeans, then they could. So my mom laboriously bought him 5 pairs of chino pants, hemmed the length on each, and they're a relatively tight fit in the waist, but manageable, only to find out he *could* wear jeans so naturally, he punked out and said "no way" to the preppy chinos for the school year thus far and there they hang in his closet.

I woke him up and said, "Get dressed," placing the clothes on his bed. He was not happy. First of all, the sweater was deemed too warm for today (and he's chronically too warm anyway, unlike his anemic, 17% body fat mother), and the chinos? Must we? The only thing he agreed to put on were his socks.

"Mom, they didn't say we *HAD* to dress up today. It's not a RULE," he slitheringly said as he tried to wake up.

"Wait. What? You don't have to? Then what in Hell are we doing?" I replied.

If they weren't going to quiz him on Luther's 95 Theses in punishment for not showing up in dress clothes, I sure as hell wasn't going to force him to. I ripped out a pair of jeans and let him pick out a shirt from the closet, whereupon he told me "Get out of here."

So off he went to school, badass that he is, in his "Sunday best." Because God loves him no matter what he's wearing. I offered him my old, too big "Fuck Everything" t-shirt, but we agreed that wasn't a smart move.

Thursday is "Dress in Pink" Day. My son would rather be caught dead than in pink, though I offered some of my shirts, all of which would fit him like a sausage casing. He went with black today instead, you know, because he's all emo and stuff.

If we're going to argue the school's dress code, they DID outlaw hoodies of any kind this year, which is collectively thought to be the most ridiculous rule in the books. That's because there's a West campus (where Luke goes, in a relatively affluent, chiefly Caucasian neighborhood, with little diversity) and an East campus (somewhere more in-the-city, I don't know, I've never been there). The rule was made across both campuses because the kids at East risk gang involvement, and apparently hoodies somehow represent gang involvement. So hoodies, no matter what they say, or if they're pullovers or zip-ups, are out. Luke had like 9 hoodies that he'd wear all the time, and always left one on during the school day in chilly weather. TO KEEP WARM.

Oddly enough, they SELL hoodies with the Lutheran Unity School logo on them as "spirit wear." And the purpose of buying one that you can't WEAR to SCHOOL is what, pray tell?

Luke's been a punk and has broken the hoodie-wearing-during-school rule many times this school year, and has gotten tisk-tisked for it on a number of occasions, but considering he's still being bullied and I've raised Hell about that and the school hasn't stopped it, they're not calling me or sending me notes home about my son breaking the dress code. Essentially, they have no room to bitch at me. He tells me, "Yeah, I wore my hoodie all day and got in trouble again..." and I'm typically responding with an "'Atta, boy!" or at the very least, "What the fuck? You were COLD!" None of his hoodies are remotely offensive, would incite riots, or cause any other conflict. He HAS a St. Paul Lutheran hoodie. Sadly, I guess the rules for both schools have to be the same, though I've taught my son to question rules and authority and go with his gut.

Goosebumps? Damn straight, leave the hoodie on. Let Mom deal with the fucking fallout.

I just told Luke that on the day of my hysterectomy, I want him to wear my Keith Richards' "Too Tough To Die" shirt to school. He questioned why and frankly, if any of the teachers listen to anything except Christian rock, they might recognize the image of the young, heroined-out Richards on the front and Luke'll be on his way to the principal's office, after which they'll probably call his father and demand he bring him a less offensive (though it's not offensive) shirt. Craig will not have washed Luke's laundry, and it'll be this big clusterfuck, but whatever. We'll deal.

Luke said, "Why would you want me to wear that?" I said, "Because I'm having surgery." He said, "It's just surgery." "But this could be BIG surgery, I don't know yet," I told him. Luke's attitude and impression is literally that "Mom's always having some kind of surgery." He's complacent about it, not that he doesn't care, but he doesn't freak out, nor should he. I'm the one that's shitting a brick over the robotic vs open surgery issue, and the range of recovery time, and scared. Me, not him. I could be in the hospital for a couple of days or close to a week. I hate not knowing until I wake up afterwards what my fate will be.

So why do I want him to wear my t-shirt? Because I want my son to feel connected to me and think about how invincible he believes me to be as I undergo what could be either a relatively minor or major operation. For the same reason I wear my father's gold neck chain and my grandma's cross. To feel symbolically connected to people I love. (Symbolism is my life.) Luke's commented on the shirt on more than one occasion and has reminded me that I am, indeed, "too tough to die." If he chooses to ask his teacher to keep me in the class's prayers that day, I'd appreciate that. Regardless, it'll fit him better than my "Skinny Little Bitch" t-shirt...

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