Loco Parentis: U R What U Wear

Clothes make the man — but not the teenager anymore, apparently.




“DEAR PARENT, GAURDIAN,” the letter from Jake’s school begins — not a good sign. I plunk the rest of the mail on the kitchen table and keep reading. “This letter is to inform you that your child has been out of compliance with the school district’s school uniform attire policy multiple times this year.” It goes on to list the repercussions of further transgressions: detention, in-school suspension, and, for a fifth offense, the dreaded out-of-school suspension, or OSS.

I’ll be damned, I think, with a flutter of pride. The kid has some William Wallace in him after all. He’s not content to be a forlorn victim of anomie; he’s taking a stand, sticking it to The Man!

And here he comes in the back door, hungry after basketball practice. “What’s for dinner?” he demands, sniffing the air. “Tacos? Is it tacos? Yes!

“I got a letter from school,” I tell him, since he’s in a good mood. “It says you’ve violated the uniform policy. Multiple times.”

He sighs, his good humor escaping like air from a balloon. “Three times,” he says. “I wore sweatpants once. I wore a striped polo one day — a powder blue striped polo. And I wore my football t-shirt the day of a game.”

I want to high-five him for his defiance, but what kind of parent would that make me? Instead I ask: “Why?”

“Because I didn’t feel like going all the way back up to the third floor to get the right clothes.”

Ah. He’s a rebel of convenience. Still, he’s a rebel. I’m hanging onto that kilt. Maybe the last day of school.