Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dress for Biography Day Success

* Cross-posted on the Picket Fence Post*

I was sitting in traffic this morning -- courtesy of roadway construction -- wasting precious gasoline and hating myself. Why the self-loathing? Because I was headed to a party store to buy a plastic bowler hat and a cheap mustache for my third grade son's Biography Day presentation Thursday morning.

The Eldest Boy is supposed to dress up as Orville Wright and read a speech that he researched and wrote about the inventor in front of his class and his classmates' families. (The Girl will have her Biography Day presentation Thursday afternoon and will be dressed as Harriet Tubman.)

When the Biography Day assignment came home a few weeks ago, I rolled my eyes, not because of the biography part -- that I like and heartily endorse -- but because of the costume part. I live in a community where very little involving our children is done without some sort of flourish (for example, there are multiple end-of-the-year parties in the Eldest Boy's class), therefore I knew that as Biography Day neared, I'd inevitably clash with my offspring over my refusal to buy expensive looking costumes for this event and my announcement that this domestically-disabled woman would not spend hours making costumes for THEIR homework assignments. (We are, as a family, still recovering from the Science Fair.)

After the kids and I downloaded images of Wright and Tubman from the Internet, I agreed to help them figure out what they'd need in order to dress like their assigned historical figures. We went through my closet, The Spouse's closet and all of our dress-up clothes for ideas. The result of my "help?" Both children were angry with me and called me, literally, a Scrooge (for not buying a suit -- the Eldest Boy doesn't own one -- and an authentic bowler), and insane (for suggesting that The Girl wear a skirt because women wore dresses during Tubman's time).

So I was hating myself this morning because I violated my own belief that such assignments shouldn't be dependent on parental economic resources or sewing skills so our children can avoid having their peers make fun of them. And here I was on the road and opening my wallet because my son is deathly afraid of having kids mock him if he wears a costume cobbled together with whatever we have in the house. (He and some of his classmates saw another child this week from a different class who was also assigned to be Orville Wright, and the kid reportedly wore a suit and nice hat.)

Thus I felt trapped in an untenable situation: Stick to my guns and have the Eldest Boy be made fun OR buy a few small items (the hat, the mustache) and borrow a few (borrowed a suit and tie that fit the Eldest Boy from a friend), and (hopefully) spare him from being embarrassed. So when the Eldest Boy wrapped his arms around my waist after seeing that I'd purchased the hat and mustache, I smiled, but felt as though I'd caved.

Do you ever have situations where your child has school assignments like this, where you're faced with buying stuff/doing it for the student, or letting the child do it himself and have his work be compared to that of an adult or to something store-bought?

Image credit: NASA.

1 comment:

Our Prim Nest said...

Found your blog, my son has decided to be Orville Wright for his class assignment report and dress up and pretend to be in a wax museum and tell us about the charactor. Trying now to figure how much to spend or how to make either aviator helmet, scarf etc or the suit, hat and mustache. I understand.