Last week, I posted this unusual picture of David. It was, of course, strange because David is not wearing a red shirt. This shirt does not have a red stripe, red lettering, or even a red tag in the collar. (And no, for those of you who inquired, he was not wearing red shorts, either. I did crop the picture, but not to conceal red pants. I was trying to hide the fact that David has recently overcome his Band-Aid aversion and now insists on wearing a Band-Aid on each knee, which is an altogether different story.)
I found the new shirt shoved into David's backpack the first week of summer school. Although a cute shirt, I momentarily considered putting it immediately into the Goodwill pile. Instead I washed it and tossed it into his shirt drawer on top of the lone stack of shirts not a shade of scarlet, crimson, ruby or cherry (incidentally not David's favorite color red, because not all reds are the same). I figured I would not have to consider it again until it came time to pack away the summer clothes for longer sleeves months from now.
And then the note arrived. It was a permission slip for the first of three summer school field trips and a note asking that all students wear their new shirts for the trip. At first I laughed and thought good luck with that, but then the mommy instinct kicked in.
We are constantly worried about David's security in numerous ways, but the issue we confront most often is David getting lost. If he gets separated from us—or lost on a field trip—he does not have the ability to tell someone his telephone number, or address, or my name. He will occasionally tell someone his name if asked, but he still refers to himself as Ginnie, completely ignoring the rule that your mononym should have some vague allusion to your real name like Cher (Cherilyn Sarkisian), Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) or Bono (Paul David Hewson—wait, what?!?).
Anyway, my first line of defense is always an ID tag that David wears on his shoe. In this instance, however, the shirt would serve as extra insurance. It identified him as a part of the field trip and, if he got separated from the group, listed the name of his school. Now, if I could just convince him to wear it.
I started talking about the shirt three full days before the field trip. I told him the principal said he needed to wear it for his field trip. The assistant principal said he needed to wear it. His teacher and the paraprofessional in the classroom (his new favorite person) both said he needed to wear it. He seemed receptive, even referring to it as the "two how-hend a-na-na" shirt, in reference to the year printed at the bottom.
I was hopeful, confident even, that David would wear the shirt especially if I allowed him to wear a red shirt underneath and when the moment of truth came, David was completely agreeable. I did not have to coax him, or bribe him with the red undershirt, or chase him into a corner. He just put it on like it was no big deal. And then he went back to wearing a red shirt the next day…and the day after that.