Sour grapes and pasta

Author: natalie  //  Category: Baytown, Texas

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to dine upon this oddly-paired meal. I ask that the food is blessed to the nourishment of our bodies and that the Big Guy be with me as I lay my soul bare and purge pure evil from my heart whilst dining with friends. Oh…and bless the hands that prepared these tasty morsels (that one’s for you, Dad), amen.

Now that I’ve blessed the food, allow me to forewarn: What I’m likely to say past this point may be offensive and cause some to believe I was being wholly irreverent above. Not true. Only a higher power can help me move beyond my anger. And because you folks have become such great friends to me, I like to share my highs and my lows.

Today, I’m serving up sour grapes and spaghetti  straps.

To backtrack a little, please know there is no job I take more seriously than parenting my three cherubs, the oldest of which will be 20 soon. I say that to illustrate I’ve been at the mom thing for a good while. Some may argue whether or not I’ve been successful, but I can look myself in the mirror and know while missing perfect by miles, I’ve given (I’ll never be done) it my best.

And just when I thought I’d encountered it all…

Way back when, a fairly stringent junior high dress code was adopted for GCCISD. Not quite uniforms, but close.

I didn’t really like that dress code when my boys got to that age, but I liked the theory behind it of how those years were especially tough and the focus needed to be on education and not a fashion show.  Anyway, I managed to get two boys through those years with nary a wardrobe issue.

Someone(s) somewhere decided last spring to open up that dress code as the specificity of the color combinations was not uniform across the district and parents moving a child from one campus to another were unduly financially burdened by having to replace the child’s clothing.

OK. Got it. Made perfect sense.

So, starting this fall, junior high kids were once again open to explore fashion beyond a collared polo or school T-shirt coupled with appropriate pants.

But alas there are gray areas.

And dare I say personalities, interpretation and even what type of day someone may be having all factor in to what’s “acceptable”. 

Thinking back on how the old dress code in part sought to have students see each other as fellow classmates and human beings as opposed to fashion plates, I found it ironic that the dehumanizing was back already…only from a different source.

I’d complain to the powers that be, but the drill is for higher ups to get in line to support questionable decisions in the name of … I don’t know what. 

What I do know is that five weeks into the school year and on picture day my youngest wore a spaghetti-strapped ruffled top with a down-to-her-wrists cardigan sweater over it, full-length jeans (WITH NO HOLES) and silver rhinestone sandals. She looked beautiful in the outfit she’d already worn to school twice before and was ready to smile for the camera.

I must pause here and state for emphasis: The only skin showing on her was her face/neck, hands and part of her feet. 

No matter. I got a phone call within minutes of arriving home and needing to be at an appointment that she’d need alternate attire as the whole outfit was “inappropriate”. No spaghetti straps even if they’re covered by an outer garment and jeans with even the tiniest decorative “fray”… unacceptable.

 Her jeans were not frayed. And having her remove the cardigan to inspect what was underneath? Really? It’s infuriating and sad. 

I was unable to jump and run, but they’d lock her away in in-school-suspension where she’d miss valuable instructional time until I could get there.

 Angry does not begin to describe me.  Removing a child from class and threatening me into moving faster was petty and uncalled for. My daughter lost valuable learning time and I lost the last shred of respect I had remaining for administrators at that campus.

And I’ll go ahead and fess up: I hung up on the office lady I spoke to at the school after telling her it was “flipping ridiculous” out on the loud speaker for the whole school office to enjoy.  That was unlady-like, uncouth and most unbecoming of the person I strive to be. But this coupled with other issues was the last straw.

I apologized in person when I delivered replacement clothing.

No doubt my rant will be laughed off and labeled sour grapes by school folks. So be it.

I could provide a pasta feast for all of Baytown if I gathered up all the spaghetti strapped undershirts off GCCISD staff and students alike on any given day. Someone(s) decided they needed to wield their power and it hit me at a particularly bad moment.

Sour? You bet. But I’ll still bless the hands that prepared the grapes for me.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

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