I Would Prefer Not To

Today Oscar’s preschool conducted a foot-washing ritual as they concluded their study of Easter, and last night he asked me if he had to participate.  I asked him why he thought he might not want to, and he explained that he thought he would feel uncomfortable removing his socks and having his feet washed. 

Fair enough.

Then I asked him what he should do to go about extricating himself from a situation that made him uncomfortable.  He said, “I should scream that I don’t want my feet washed!” 

After a definition of “extricate” and a slight correction as to how to politely decline a la Bartleby the Scrivener, we came to an agreement that Don would inform his teachers in the morning and that Oscar would be respectful of other people’s choice to participate. 

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However, some Easter traditions sat just fine with him . . . a little egg-hunting and coloring felt just right.

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Oscar’s preference not to participate didn’t strike me as “rebellion” per se or even obstinance.  It reminded me that he is developing boundaries about what is and is not comfortable regarding his body; and I am grateful that he had the foresight to bring it up the night before, that he responded to the solution offered, and that, ultimately, his school respected his choice. 

How much better the world would function if we all respected each other’s boundaries as seemingly effortlessly as this.

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