Gleeful squeals and peals of laughter rang out the four corners of the room as children ran around, scattering toys here and there, enjoying precious seconds before the bell rings signifying the start of the class.
Deckard scanned the unruly classroom, a scenario he’s been growing familiar with every morning for the past few weeks. Azure eyes glanced at the wall clock in the corner of the room.
Two more students…
A few more minutes…
It’s almost eight o’clock, he can finally command some semblance of order in this place.
He was about to ask his students to tidy up and start their morning routine, when a usually composed woman bustled through the glass doors, dragging her equally ruffled child with her.
Deckard offered them a sympathetic smile, and hurried to relieve the woman off her child’s bag. Little Caesar, who still hasn’t fully grasped the concept of tardiness, lightened up at the sight of his classmates, but remained by his mother’s side, tightly clutching her skirt.
“I’m sorry he’s late. We had to drop Salvador to his school first, my husband couldn’t take him.” His mother explained, at which Deckard responded with an understanding nod and a gentle smile.
“It’s alright ma’am, we were just about to start.”
The woman knelt down to Caesar’s level and gave him a parting hug and kiss, which he happily returned. With a promise that she’ll be back for him after two hours, the woman left, and Deckard ushered the child to his usual seat.
It was Friday, which meant they’d be having their art activity for the week. He planned to have students build a puppet from cut outs of colorful papers, a mini self-puppet if you will. The dark haired man was excitedly distributing materials, assisting a few students along the way. He was quite amused by the kids’ creativity and imagination; they have so much to tell and their ideas are boundless and spontaneous.
Iya was dressing hers with blue overalls, where she’s drawing odd squiggly hamster pattern with a silver pen. Ace was still waiting for his to dry, but decided that his puppet would have glasses like his best friend Mappy, and would have an outrageous green hair. Addie was attaching white papers at the back of hers, which Deckard would later learn are wings, and Yue still hasn’t decided if the skin tone for the face and arms should match.
Overall, he’s very encouraging and accepting of the oddities presented to him so long as they don’t harm anyone, because why not? Great ideas comes from those who go beyond the box, so why limit a child to just what society long deemed as acceptable?
He was checking on each and everyone’s progress when he noticed Caesar meticulously pick a green skirt from the pile that was meant to be cutout clothes. Confused, he approached the child, thinking he might have mistaken the skirt for a short because they look nearly similar.
“Hey Caesar,” Deckard started softly and the child curiously looked up, vivid green eyes staring expectantly at him. “That’s a skirt.” He pointed at the paper the child was carefully holding. Caesar just continued staring at him, as if conveying ‘I’m perfectly aware’ with his bright, innocent eyes. “Are you sure that’s what you want?” the man was mentally cringing while he was saying those words.
As much as possible, he was trying to avoid imposing any type of stereotype on kids’ impressionable minds, add in the fact that the first five years in life is crucial for personality development. But the activity’s meant to be taken home later. He’s not sure how the parents would react to seeing their son dressing his puppet with a skirt.
It’s a sad fact that one should be worried of parent’s reaction towards a little activity, and it’s still challenging to teach gender roles without caging ideas under specific categories.
How do you tell a child that the only difference they have from the other sexual category is what type of specimen they should provide in order to create life?
Why a woman is allowed to wear shorts or pants, yet boys can’t wear dresses or skirts? Why dressing oneself as an angel, dragon, fairy, wizard, or having an outrageous colored hair is more acceptable and imaginative than mix-matching clothes from the other gender. His partner, Cheska or Chad, is gender fluid, and there are times where people would judge them not of their capabilities, but of what they wear.
“There are shorts and pants here,” Deckard continued, carding through the cutouts to look for the said items. “Those are for boys.” Oh goodness… If the ground could only swallow him now.
Deckard was internally face plaming himself. He can hear a child’s voice in his head saying, ‘but teacher, girls wear pants and shorts too!’ He can only wish to take those words back. But Caesar was only looking at him, unfazed and unaware of his struggle. The child looked like he had his mind set, and Deckard felt like Ces was judging him for questioning his choice. “Are you satisfied of your pick then?” he asked for the final time, when Ces nodded hi-their head, the teacher beamed and passed the child the glue.
“Green skirt it is.”