It is a rare occasion that I can pick out an outfit in the morning with ease and no hesitation. I'd say almost every morning I pull out 2 or 3 tops, a few pairs of pants, and maybe a dress or two. This isn't just due to my indecisive nature; although that is probably the main contributor to my lengthy preparation time in the morning. Ever since I started my internship, I've had to adjust not only to the 5:15 A.M. wakeup call, but also the daily business casual dress attire. Oh but on Fridays we get to wear jeans. Just one more reason to celebrate TGIF. I'm guilty of being one of those Nike Shorts, big T-shirt, Chaco wearing college girls. Please don't judge me for it. I'd say having to get up and actually make myself look somewhat presentable was one of the biggest adjustments to this semester. Sad, I know.
Now when I say that my indecisiveness is not the only reason for my outfit selection in the morning; it is because I am greeted by 15 of my biggest critics when I enter the classroom. Who knew that 7 and 8 year olds could be so observant, and even moreso...extremely honest? I learned this the hard way during my Spring semester practicum of my junior year. I got a really bad stye infection in my eye one weekend that gave me one swollen shut eye and a "no makeup" rule. The doctor gave strict orders: "Take this medicine, throw away all of your makeup, and you can't wear makeup for at least one week". I was actually thrilled about this. That definitely gave me a little extra time to sleep in the mornings. I didn't think it would be a big deal or even that big of a difference...that is until I walked into Kindergarten Monday morning. After receiving consistent stares, one brave little boy spoke up. I won't defend him or make his approach sound sweet. Oh no. He walked in, and with a dumbfounded look on his face and a raised eyebrow, boldly exclaimed "Ms. Kinney, what happened to your face? How come you look so different today? You look weird." Okay I really don't wear that much makeup that it would cause a noticeable difference, but apparently the au naturale look was shocking to them. These were the same kids that asked me how I turned my skin black when I got back from Spring Break. One little girl asked if I had dyed my skin.
I thought jumping up to 2nd grade might put a cap on the filter that the younger ones otherwise lacked. I thought wrong. That filter is still very much nonexistent. Now I will give them a little credit. Most of their comments are usually somewhat positive...or at least that is their intention. Let me explain.
Boy: "I like your shirt, but shouldn't you be wearing pants?"
Me: "It's not a shirt. It's called a Polo dress. It just looks like a long shirt"
Boy: "That's not a dress. It's a shirt. Is that an XXL shirt or did you get it from your boyfriend's closet?"
"Ms. McKinney, your shirt is beautiful. My mom got that for her birthday, but took it back to the store because she said it was ugly. But it's beautiful on you!"
"Ms. McKinney, I like your watch. You must have gotten it in the K-Mart dollar section."
"You look really pretty in this picture. You don't look like that anymore."
"Your eyelashes looks pretty. I bet they're fake aren't they?"
And my all time FAVORITE happened just last week. Let me set it up for you. I was walking around the room grading papers and one of my boys asked me if I could wear what I wore to school my first day again. There was no way he remembered my outfit from my first day. Wrong. After asking him to please tell me about this outfit because even I couldn't remember; he described in detail my first day attire. From boot detail and sweater pattern, to hairdo; he nailed it on the head. This conversation was overheard by a girl nearby. I was wearing my hair pulled back in a low ponytail that day. This particular girl told me she liked my hair better when I wore it down or with a headband. She asked if I would honor her request as well as the boy's and wear my hair down for her. It gets better. A sweet, quiet, somewhat awkward little boy calls me to his desk....
"Ms. McKinney, I'd just like to tell you something. Well I...I...I just think you would be a little bit more beautiful if you would wear your hair down and wet and slick to your face. Just a little bit more beautiful."
Thank you sweet angel for your well intended advice, but I think if I also honored your request, you might quickly rebuke your statement.
Thanks to my classroom experiences, my skin has thickened. I have learned to not take anything personally; not by children at least. If you need an honest opinion, hit up your local elementary school and ask the kiddos how they really feel. They will most likely tell you the truth, and maybe even make some suggestions that will get you one step closer to being "a little bit more beautiful".