So, I've had to do the "pesky parent" routine again.
Sydney is in the middle of a cold snap, and this has galvanised my current unhappiness over Mister Determined's school uniform. Cold adversely affects him – it makes his muscles stiffen up more, and if he gets very cold, he can go into a type of shock. He starts to shiver, rapidly develops a fever, and his system collapses, leaving him sick for days. This can happen after a sudden cold shock (such as when he comes out of a warm pool into a cold room) or after long exposure to cold.
His school's current boys uniform policy states that Junior boys wear shorts at all times. In winter, these are thicker woollen shorts with longer and slightly thicker socks - but they are still shorts. During the cold winter months, this makes life difficult for Mister D., and puts extra strain on his system, that I believe he could do without. He has actually fallen over (resulting in some spectacular bruises) because the muscles in his legs stiffen up, and he has complained that his legs are sore and stiff.
I have no doubt that the school would allow him to wear long pants on cold days, but you see, that would not work – Mister Determined refuses to be "different" and will not want to wear long pants if he is the only one. I would therefore prefer to see the whole uniform policy at the school is changed. I'm not asking too much, am I?
But then, it's not just for him. Surely he cannot be the only child with cold legs in winter. Just yesterday – a day with frost on the grass and a think layer of ice on the pool – I was struck by the rugged up parents (long johns, pants, legwarmers, scarves, gloves and beanies) dropping of shivering young boys in no more than shorts!
But, I can hear you say, "generations of kids have managed". Indeed, kids manage. But should they have to? Kids have also survived bullying. The fact that kids get through a bad situation and survive despite it does not make the situation any better.
This issue of short and long pants off course is no trivial matter. There is a long history of marking the difference between Junior and Senior - and being allowed to wear long pants has traditionally been an important rite of passage, marking the status of an older, more responsible child. Indeed, I think this distinction is important, and should be maintained. But surely we can find other distinguishing marks such as different types of ties, hats, and different coloured pants (as is already happening to some level at the school). Why can we not allow both Junior and Senior boys to wear shorts in summer (currently the older boys are not allowed to wear shorts in summer, and this in our hot climate!?) and long trousers in winter in different colours?
So I sent out a letter to the school's management committee, asking them to revise the school's uniform policy. They meet every Monday. So now I wait and live in hope…