Indra’s blog; About Odd Socks, Individuality and Bullying
While driving in the car I am listening to the radio. One of the presenters makes a joke about someone being silly for wearing odd socks. And I am feeling a bit uneasy about that. Why? Because my eldest son wears odd socks… every single day… on purpose. And I love his braveness and have never told him not to do so. He is almost seven and this is how he expresses himself. He knows what he is doing, he is choosing so; It is his signature and by telling him he is silly for wearing odd socks … that is actually bullying.
It all started with my boy’s school. They had requested the kids to wear odd socks to raise awareness. He proudly went to school with two different socks, like most of the other kids. I thought it had to do with Down Syndrome Day (21st March) as that’s what he told me, I think about two years ago. People all around the world were wearing a different sock on each foot and using the hashtag #LotsOfSocks on social media to raise awareness for the cause. By googling this I found socks have been used as the symbol, because chromosomes are shaped “like socks”. People with Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21) have all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21; so the genetic disorder gives them an extra one.
There actually is an Odd Socks Day as well, which is on the first day of Anti Bullying Week (this year it was on the 12th November apparently). People are encouraged to wear odd socks to celebrate individuality and allow them to express themselves by showing how unique everyone is. And that is exactly what my boy is doing without realising. In a very non-intrusive way he is showing off what he likes in a world where every child wears almost the same school uniform.
Being Dutch, I never had to wear a school uniform. It is not common in the Netherlands. So, I got to choose my clothes every day. That had advantages and disadvantages. It could take quite a bit more time in the morning to get ready, depending on the child. Disadvantaged children would not be wearing the latest or coolest clothes and might be bullied. However, I remember none of that. Maybe we were lucky. I attended fantastic inclusive schools and have to say that I loved my school years a lot.
Luckily my son goes to a fantastic little school in the countryside as well. They are very involved and have an anti-bullying campaign. The children are divided into houses and when their house wins a challenge sometimes they get to have an own clothes day, which is the top level of excitement.. apparently. But without that he gets to wear his odds socks. The school lets him. We, as parents, let him. So why on earth would there be a presenter on the BBC saying he would be silly for doing so…. They clearly missed the briefing…
Let’s toast to inclusiveness and being able to express yourself… even in the slightest way…