I was so excited to find a maxi skirt the other day at Target. Not only did it fit and feel cozy, it was patterned, bold, and ready to get peed on. I am sure you read that and went, 'Did Britt just write "Peed on." As in, she might have a child pee on her?!' Yup. That is exactly what I wrote. I thought about whether or not I would be upset if a child peed on me while wearing it. Because part of buying my teacher wardrobe includes the thought process, 'Would I care if I got pee, mucus, marker, pen, glue, paint, bleach, or flinging ranch dressing (when a child opens up their lunch container and that stuff flies across the table at you? And it did-last week.)?' and other thoughts like, 'Will this cover my body when I am standing, bending, sitting, reading, chasing, climbing, and dancing?'
Yeah, I know. It's tricky. I am an early childhood professional so I need to balance my wardrobe so that it is preschooler ready, college student model appropriate, but also looking as presentable and professional as I can while I somehow manage to feel like I am expressing myself as an individual at the same time. If my jewelry gets pulled and broken, will I get upset? Headbands are usually a safe bet and fun to wear. Jeans are a must have but what quality will I buy when I know they will wear at the knees after I play with children time and time again on the rugs? And in a few weeks I get six new three year olds who are figuring out a new school with new teachers and peers, with new routines, all while playing with new and interesting materials, they might, in fact, pee on me.
And yes, even when part of my major vocabulary shifts from, "Tell me about what you are thinking." to, "Does anyone need to check for pee? I could save your spot." and "Hey! It's time to check for pee. So exciting and you know all about the bathrooms!" sometimes, even then, pee happens. So do markers, and ranch, and bingo dotters, and mucus. And its okay. It's part of my job, but it has to be taken into consideration when purchasing clothing for school.
Because children have the right to sit in laps, play chase, build tall structures, have dance parties, and create gluey drizzle collages with their teachers. They trust that when I scoop them up when they are upset, and they wipe their tears and running nose across my shoulder, I pull them in closer and rub their backs. I want to be a confidently fashionable teacher all while maintaining the approachable-I'm-ready-to-play-full-on look. I'm not throwing in the towel to wear those ugly sweaters you see at the christmas parties for people to post on Instagram. It has taken me a lot of time to get to the point where I want to wear nicer clothes that express who I am and what I like all while being okay with the staining/germ-related perks of my job. And after loosing a considerable amount of weight and getting the opportunity to create a new wardrobe for myself, I am going to wear my new maxi skirt with pride. Even if pee happens. And if it does, it will happen in style.
Teacher wardrobe questionnaire:
1. Can you afford this item while still being able to buy something class related? Because it's already in the basket too. And you could really use the other item for that special activity for so-and-so in your class...
2. Will you be upset if it becomes ruined after 1 or 2 wears?
3. Can you fully participate in all activities of the day with children?
4. Can this be layered? (because the heat is blasting in the winter and the air conditioner is freezing in the summer. Layering is super important).
5. Does this make you feel confident and your best teacher self?
1. Can the color of your new clothing item be spot matched by a sharpie?
2. Can you repurpose your item into dramatic play clothing when done?
Brittany Courchesne is an early childhood educator, teacher mentor to teachers in training, public speaker, and blogger.