Seeing Red

Yesterday I saw red… in more ways than one.

In honor of Read Across America Day, March 2, the birthday of the beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss, my kindergartner’s school encouraged all students to dress in red and white.

My daughter attends a Catholic school that requires students dress in uniform, so having a “free day” to wear red and white garb is a big deal for the kids.

The night before the big Dr. Seuss birthday celebration (which included cooking green eggs and ham in the classroom) my daughter and I went through her closet to find a festive red and white outfit to wear to school.

“Oh Mommy, how about this shirt?” my daughter asked excitedly while holding up a fire engine red tank top emblazoned with Hello Kitty’s oversized head.

“You might be cold in that,” I reasoned. “Plus, your school doesn’t allow kids to wear shirts with pictures. You need to find a red shirt with no pictures and no words. How about this?” I asked holding up a plain cherry red cardigan and shell set.

“BLECH!! I am not wearing that!” my 5 going on 16-year-old spat out.

“Fine,” I exhaled. “I’m going to put in a load of laundry. Call me if you need help finding an outfit.”

I wish I could say that five minutes later my daughter came running out of her room waving the perfect red and white ensemble, but the truth is, it took nearly 20 minutes to finally settle on an appropriate getup.

The winning look included a raspberry red Gap Kids polo, a white sweater and a pair of khakis.

Carson Kressley eat your heart out.

Actually, the closet adventure made me appreciate the fact that I don’t have to deal with mini fashion dramas everyday.

Thank you, school uniforms.

Sounds like a happy ending, right?

You’d think, but unfortunately, this is not where the story ends. In fact, this is where it gets good… in a bad way.

Tuesdays I volunteer at my daughter’s school, so I was privy to the reaction my daughter received from her teacher upon arriving in class wearing her meticulously chosen red and white outfit.

After navigating our way through a virtual red sea of kids wearing every shade of crimson known to man, I deposited my child at the entrance of her classroom and overheard her teacher ask the students gathered at the door, “Who’s wearing red?”

Eighteen excited kindergartners threw up their hands at once and sang the “Me! Me! ME!” chorus. My daughter included.

The teacher quickly scanned the group, and then for some reason, which still perplexes me, she told my daughter to put down her hand.

“Honey,” my daughter’s teacher whispered in front of the entire class, “Your shirt is not red, it’s pink.”

Before I could even blink, I heard my daughter’s little voice respond, “It’s not pink, it’s red.”

And so began a five-minute long debate between a grown woman, who supposedly has 10 years experience teaching kindergartners, and an innocent child, who spent a good chunk of her pre-bedtime free time the night before selecting what she thought was the perfect red and white ensemble, in honor of one of her favorite author’s birthday.

Yes, I saw red. No, I didn’t get into it with the teacher. Rather, I waited for my daughter to finish the school day and I met her with a single Gerber Daisy in the exact shade of red as her shirt.

“What’s this, mommy?”

“A red flower. Do you like it?”

“I love it! It’s the same color as my shirt.”


Not exactly a red letter day at school, but at least the incident didn’t leave my daughter blue for too long.

What would you have done in the situation?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.