By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
"I'm So Bored" spelled out the words, carefully crafted to look like the periodic table, on my son's new t-shirt he received for his birthday. As a former chemistry teacher, I hated it-excuse me, but a class where you have permission to light things on fire is not boring!-but, of course, my son loved it. He giggled, "Yeah, mom, I hate school!"
For the record, he does not hate school. His teachers do an excellent job of keeping things fun and educational…yet here he was, playing into every lame stereotype. As I discovered when I went to return the t-shirt (mom's veto privilege!), this shirt was hardly the worst example of boys t-shirts printed with obnoxious sayings. While a lot of attention has been paid to the slut-ification of little girls' clothing, not much has been said about the dumbing down of boys apparel.
"My brain hurts" reads one t-shirt with a picture of Bart Simpson and a math book. "Looking for trouble? You found it!" declares a shirt from Target. "If homework is work, then when do I get paid?" quips a boys t-shirt from Kohls. There's the ever popular "My favorite subjects are lunch and recess" shirt, and my personal least favorite reads "Let's just skip school so I can start my rockstar training." Yes, these shirts are funny, but I hate the message that t-shirts like these send to boys. School isn't always a-laugh-a-minute, but it's not supposed to be. It's important that kids learn life skills, like reading and math, but equally as important that they learn they can deal with being bored sometimes and that hard things are worth doing, even if they aren't super fun.
Maybe I'm overreacting. Perhaps, these t-shirts are just a silly way for boys to express their feelings and have a good laugh with their friends. But in a culture as schizophrenic as ours about education, do we really need to be reinforcing these attitudes?
By the way, we exchanged the shirt for one that says, "Awesome ends with me!" Now, there's a message I can get behind.
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a mom of 5 and the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and the blog of the same name.
More from REDBOOK:
Could You Go a Week Without Yelling?
Have the Hottest Sex of Your Life…with Your Husband
- 6 Shocking Reasons Why Men Stray
- 101 Date Night Ideas
- Get More on Love, Family & Fashion - Subscribe to REDBOOK & Save Up to 84%!
Connect with REDBOOK:
- Become our Fan on Facebook
- Sign Up for REDBOOK's Free Weekly Newsletter
- Follow Us on Twitter
- Enter to Win FREE Daily Prizes
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.