Today was Doctor Day at Avery's school. I had no idea what this entailed, exactly, but the note said "Please send your child to school wearing a white t-shirt, or scrubs if you have them. Anything that looks like doctor's clothing is fine."
Ok, well, I have some scrubs. I tied the shirt up so it would fit. That seemed kinda boring though. Then I remembered the white jacket from the dress-up bin. It's what the Kindergartner used to use for doctor's clothing. We took a magnet name tag and put a sticker over it and wrote "Dr. Avery Jackson." We filled her little tool kit with gauze, Band Aids, medicine syringes and a pill bottle filled with dried fruit. Then, inspiration really hit, and I tied her bicycle reflector to a Velcro strap and made a head lamp out of it. It was nothing short of spectacular, if I do say so myself.
So, this morning, we wake up, totally excited and ready for school. Avery balked at wearing her coat because she didn't want to disturb or cover up her doctor ensemble. I force her to wear it, but I allow her to remove it the second we walk into the school doors. She struts, literally, into her classroom and guess what? Everyone else is wearing a plain white Hanes t-shirt. Only one child had anything other than a top on. A little boy had a "Doctor in Training" scrubs top, but that's as elaborate as it got. Except for Avery. There she is, wearing a doctor coat and a headlamp, carrying a doctor bag and all the other kids look like they are there for art day or something, just covering up their clothes. Avery's teacher made a big production out of Avery's outfit, exclaiming how much like a doctor she really looked. She even told her she could keep her doctor bag with her all day. I don't know if Avery even noticed that no one else was so dressed up.
All I could think of was being in 3rd grade and wearing this elaborate Strawberry Shortcake costume my mom made (sewed from scratch, thank you very much) with an ENORMOUS big hat for Halloween and then getting to school and seeing that everyone was wearing totally plain, obscure outfits, like a hobo or ghost costume that could easily be removed or passed off as regular clothing. I was mortified. I couldn't really even remove the hat b/c it was stuffed so full with puffy foam stuff. This morning, I felt that same turn in my stomach when I realized that we were the only dorks who really went all out on the doctor thing. But then I looked at Avery's face. All I could see was pride. Shiny, excited pride. I felt a slight pang of regret at the thought that this very well may be the last time she allows me to strap a bicycle reflector to her head. Next year, she'll be at "the big school," where there are big kids around to tell you how silly and uncool you are.
She probably won't always be proud to be the one standing out or being different. Maybe when she's fourteen and comes to me and says "Everyone else does it," I'll bust out this photo and remind her that, once upon a time, she was proud to be different than everyone else. She was herself. And there is nothing in this world better than that.