Most of the time the news either scares or infuriates me. My feelings about a lot of what’s going on in the world are so big and confusing that I don’t really know how to talk about them – and, to be honest, I’m often afraid of doing so because I don’t want to sound like an uninformed idiot. (This doesn’t stop everybody.)
For that reason, it was strangely pleasant to come across something that made me feel outraged in a kind of small, manageable way. This was on the front page of the BBC news site (on my phone anyway – maybe some kind of tracking thing knew about my deep and abiding affection for pajamas):
Summary: the headteacher of a primary (elementary, my dear Americans) school has sent a letter home to parents telling them to stop dropping their children off in pajamas – or, as she puts it “have a wash and get dressed”.
I am not against washing and getting dressed per se. But I have some questions about this. Like, how does she know they haven’t washed? It is totally possible to get out of bed, shower, and then put on a clean set of pajamas because pajamas are the best and you love them. Or maybe they shower in the evenings instead of the mornings. Or maybe when and how often parents wash is none of a headteacher’s business. (I guess I can think of exceptions to that, but none of them could be accurately identified just by seeing a parent at the school gates in their PJs.)
And how are we defining pajamas? Where is the line between pajamas and loungewear? Exactly how dressed up do you have to be to nip out and get your children to or from school? The headteacher was all “I’m not trying to tell people what to do with their lives, but I just think having a really good role model first thing in the morning, getting yourself up, getting yourself dressed, ready for business, out to school is a really good example to set.” Here’s the thing, though: most primary schools in England (including this one) have uniforms. Most secondary schools too – right up until sixth form (the last two years of school, ages 16-18) when most schools just have a basic dress code and you can wear jeans or whatever. Except at my school, which considered itself to be above such frivolity and made us wear smart office wear*, so that we’d know how to dress when we got to work. Schoolchildren know all about getting up in the morning and conforming to arbitrary standards of dress – much better than they really need to.
At my smart sixth form, for example, they funnelled most of us off to university (we weren’t given a lot of choice about that either) where we wore whatever we wanted for 3+ years. Since then I’ve had some jobs where the dress code was smart-casual – but some were smart, so of course I was extremely grateful for the practice. (I assume those of you who wore jeans to school arrived hours late and in floods of tears every day for your first month or so of work, hopelessly confused by your smart clothing?)
I don’t know. I normally wouldn’t have terribly strong opinions about a story like this, because I’m not a parent and I never want to be one. But one of the reasons I don’t want to be one is that it sounds like bloody hard work and, frankly, if parents want to cross one job off their list in the morning and go out in their pajamas, I really don’t see why anyone should stop them.
* In the interests of transparency, I should tell you that I never really conformed to the spirit of this dress code. Here’s a typical sixth form outfit for me:
That light green thing is a prom dress. It is somehow still not really “smart”. That’s what I mean about dress codes being arbitrary: I’m pretty sure that this outfit wasn’t actually against the rules, because they never said “don’t come to school dressed like a Disney Princess on a budget”.
Other things that have happened this week:
- Not much. I was ridiculously tired because I have been working full-time instead of part-time but apparently still thought I could get a normal amount of writing done (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and that made me even weirder than normal. Please spare a thought for Carl at this difficult time.