Apparently I've lost my moral compass. I know I had one. It was here somewhere, buried under the stacks of unopened junk mail in the kitchen, or perhaps mingling with the detritus in the disaster area I call my purse.
But according to officials at the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children (or MCA-UCC for you acronym lovers) where Ittybit attends classes twice weekly, it is gone and I am officially a menace.
A hipster mom. A woman woefully bereft of common sense. I may already be on some early education watch list.
I'm going to say it all started because Ittybit learned to dress herself, and has apparently adopted my penchant for the color black and silly, decadent things that conservative, mommy types who live in the suburbs shouldn't enjoy.
In her self-chosen black Little Girl Big Attitude T-shirt, accessorized with Jolly Roger emblazoned legwarmers covering her exposed arms, we groove to pop tunes and hip-hop in the car; she asks for Bank Job by the "Naked Old Ladies" and sings Black Eyed Peas’ "Let's Get It Started," at the tops of her lungs.
Now, it's not that we didn't try the kid stuff. I suffered through The Wiggles and Barney just like every parent of every tot in the Western hemisphere. I even came to love Elmo despite his red furry insistence on referring to himself in the third person, but Ittybit moved along to our Dave Matthews CDs as easily as I followed to my folks into Folk.
It wasn't intentional. It was pure luck. To have her actually prefer my musical preferences to those of her peers seemed nothing short of miraculous.
But when she takes off her coat in the brightly painted pre-school, and the prim and proper teachers notice the skull and crossbones-knitted woolens warming her arms, two words that never would have occurred to me at this juncture become abundantly clear: DRESS CODE. And listed prominently under the heading "INAPPROPRIATE" would be the Jolly Roger.
Mind you, I saw an inkling of this strict adherence to suitability the last time I showed up at the decorous academy to do my part by assisting with snacks and tripping over myself and the many tiny chairs. Ms. Cuthbert had asked ittybit, as is her custom on a child's "special day," to recite how many people live at her house.
"Mommy, Daddy and MAD-O-LINE the dog ... Maggie dog used to live there, too. But she died. She's buried in the backyard. ..."
"OH KAY" sings Ms. Cuthbert with the distinct tone of uncertain surprise one might have when unexpected unpleasantness escapes its moors. "Moving right along ..."
As a parent teaching their toddler to accept death as a part of life, and as a woman who believes we are fast becoming a society that can't see the forest for all the trees as we try to clear cut to our moral high ground, I find myself wishing that I could muster some righteous indignation. Just enough to show my distain for prejudice based on outward appearances.
I want to rail against how we’ve all come to fear things that are not bathed in sweetness and light, cuteness and bows; and the thinking that the wildest hair color or the wackiest clothing is a dangerous thing.
Skeletons, after all, have a prominent place in medical and anatomical education, too don’t they? Well? Don't they?
The thoughts in my head become as shrill as a scream. But then I realized I signed up for this. By becoming a parent I had willingly joined a club with strange rules and customs and members who have different ways of seeing the world, let alone chart its course. And as a new community member, I'd have to navigate the waters with care so as not to sink the ship. Even though I still see no harm in a pint-sized pirate, I also see no reason to shiver the timbers. Not just yet, anyway.