Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dressing to Drop Off the Kids

Picture from the 7Days article discussing
the school drop off dress code
After I dropped my son off at school today, I had a laugh out loud moment as I listened to the local news on the radio.  A school in Dubai posted a sign addressing what the moms are wearing during school runs.

A colleague and I often joke about this as there are some really attractive moms here.  There are moms from all over the world living in Dubai, and they dress in many different ways.  And yes, there are a few that I have even done a double take on as I venture off to work in my "corporate uniform". Sometimes its a wow, she looks great.  Other times its a wow, I can't believe she wore that!

I totally agree with dressing for the occasion, and while the school run is not what I consider an occasion, I do respect that I live in a place that is not always so casual in it's dress code.

Despite the tolerance here, and probably well over 90% of the families are from elsewhere at my son's school, there are times I have made a conscious choice to modify something.  However, I think I own some dresses in the figure above.  I am sure I have a sundress like the one on the left of the picture.  The others just really aren't my style.  Although the second one could be going to the gym, and that could be me and many other moms on certain mornings.

Thankfully, I have no Captain America t-shrits that show my stomach.  Phew.

I do have skirts and wear a lot of them.  Some above the knee, and a few below the knee.  When I wear the ones below the knee, people keep looking at my stomach to see if I am pregnant!  No one looks at anything when it is a short skirt.

I am not any of the three with straps. My shoulders never offend because I am always so cold from the massive amounts of climate control here. I would not be able to tolerate wearing those without a sweater or shawl.

But in all seriousness, as I've mentioned in other posts about the dress code question before, I get it. But why is this particular discussion always about women?  There is no dress code mentioned for men.

I have seen some dads at drop off that made me think wow, I can't believe he wore that.  Most are heading to work in their standard pants, shirt and ties.  Some in shorts, and that is okay too.  But there have been a few that look like they just rolled out of bed.  I have nothing against rolling out of bed.  I mean, haven't we all just done pretty much exactly that to rush to get our kids to school on time?  However, I think we should roll out and get dressed before we leave the house.

My first request would be can we please ask the dads not to drop their kids off in boxer shorts?  Or shorts that look like boxer shorts?  It is just inappropriate and way more offensive than a sundress.

Here is the 7 Days article

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Confessions of a Mom Whose Kid is "Too Busy"

Two weeks into the new school year and I am late to schedule any after school activities for my first grader.  I know what we are considering, but waiting for his school that is slow to schedule their after school activities may be causing us to loose places elsewhere.  

One of the many beauties of Dubai - you can find a class for anything and everything here, and a lot of it is really good quality.  I want my son to be exposed to, and try different things, but how much is really too much?

Every year I see one or two local newspaper articles about over scheduling one's child.  They must have enough downtime to be bored.  They must feel bored.  I used to read those articles and think, ya, awful parents.  How dare they over schedule their child?  Apparently some mild form of modern abuse.

After some internet search, I see there are even books written on the subject. By definition, I now fall into a certain category of parent.  But really, I am NOT that parent.

In the NYTimes last year there was an about this very subject.  It was written by a parent of two busy children titled Overscheduled Children - How Big a Problem?  Bruce Fieler and his wife both work, and their kids participate in a fair amount of after school activities.  

I can totally relate to everything he said in that article since both my husband and I work very full time jobs.  And even if I didn't work, would it matter?  I would probably not enroll my child in any fewer activities.  

The "experts" say that children need time to be free and be bored.  I totally agree, and we experience this.  However, I also agree with the NYT article.  Boredom leads into the "Can I have the iPad?" request.  No.  

My son is very happy to draw, play legos and do other things, but iPad is The Bomb in their world. And once they learn more about apps, download, etc, they want more.  Who doesn't?  Look at all the adult Candy Crush addicts out there.

Last year he still had plenty of free time to play, and many of his friends were in the same activities. Like Fieler, I also feel these activities are helping him grow and learn about different things.

What they are not is me coddling him or competing with other parents or kids - the main criticism in the books cited.  Be sure, I could care less about what the next kid does or what other kids' parents think.  I'll let someone accuse me of being too interested in my son, but caring about others to the point it is a competition? ...No. For us, it is about trying, or doing your best. 

Once when my son was three, he told me he "can't" do something.  All of my hair stood up on end. I basically explained to him that this is not a word we use.  I'm not sure if he got it at that time, and in all fairness to him he was just being a whiny three year old that day, as you do.  But "can't"? It is a 4-letter word.  We "try".

I emphasized the word so much that when he was frustrated putting together the cute little car track he had, from that day on, those tracks were fondly known as "tries".

I don't want to sound like one of those people that walked up hill both ways to school in the snow, but... When I was young, I played in the forests of rural Ohio.  (Okay, maybe I wasn't in the forrest that deep, but it felt like it).  My friends and I played outside all day, and our parents didn't worry about us being abducted.  I do not really worry about this in Dubai, but I am aware that we live in a much different time.  We also do not have forests here either.  

When we later moved to Texas, I recall being outdoors with my friends at the playground a lot.  We have a playground here, but its not the same.  This is a big city, and we can't easily rally the neighborhood for a game of anything, or playground experimentation. 

My favorite quote from the article,  “As a general principle, there is a line between a highly enriched, interesting, growth-promoting childhood and an over scheduled childhood,” he said. “And nobody knows where that line is.”

So if no one knows where this line is, why are we trying to define it?  Experts always want to put kids or parent behaviors, in some kind of box.  Maybe this doesn't fit in a black or white box.  Exploring and learning can be grey.  It should actually not walk a straight line, but maybe zig zag a bit?

I do not have all the answers, but to all those other parents that are genuinely trying to do right by their child and keep them busy, learning, healthy and happy without being overly competitive - carry on.  

For the NYTimes article referenced above, please click here.