Kids wearing pajamas to school is endemic on Long Island. It’s not good


Column | There’s a scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) frantically calls the entire family out to the lawn to look at his Christmas lights.

Once outside, his teenage daughter Audrey, played by Juliette Lewis, looks visibly concerned.

“I hope nobody I know drives by and sees me standing in the yard staring at the house in my pajamas,” she says, shivering. The film was released in 1989.

My, how the times have changed.

Drive by any school district on Long Island around dismissal time and you’re sure to see kids leaving in their pajamas — and in all sorts of inclement weather. Talk about not dressing for success.

One can only assume new-age adults don’t care anymore about the kids in their lives looking like “ragamuffins,” to borrow a term that was already dated in the 1990s. It was a term the older teachers especially would use to call students out for looking unkempt.

These teachers and other adults from decades ago weren’t flexing for their own strange gratification.

They were teaching us early on about the importance of looking presentable.

Because looking presentable in the adult world helps you earn respect in the workplace, leads to better and more opportunities, and just helps your overall confidence in life.

There’s plenty of research to back this up, but shouldn’t it be common sense? Adults back then didn’t need to research the matter. Kids were expected to look presentable because, well, you better get used to it, kid. And good habits start early. And so do bad habits, which carry on into the workplace.

Ok, so maybe you don’t want to take my word for it.

Take this snippet of 2018 research from OfficeTeam, which specializes in staffing a wide variety of administrative and front office support roles, according to its website, globally.

What happens when professionals don’t dress to impress? Forty-four percent of senior managers have talked to an employee about their inappropriate attire, and nearly one-third (32 percent) have sent staff home based on what they were wearing. Half of executives who spoke with an employee or told someone to leave and change clothes were comfortable doing so. Thirty-five percent felt awkward stepping in, and the other 15 percent didn’t want to have the conversation at all.

On the flip side, for those who do show up looking presentable?

“Dressing professionally establishes credibility and helps others envision you in a role with greater responsibility,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. “While many organizations have relaxed their dress codes, especially for warmer months, employees shouldn’t assume casual attire or the latest fashion trends are OK for the office. It’s always a good idea to follow company policies and observe what colleagues in more senior positions typically wear.”

So, locally, do Long Island school districts mention their policies on showing up to school in PJ’s? No. Not that I’ve found. In all likelihood, because they never thought they would actually have to.

I randomly pulled the dress codes from five districts, which I won’t identify because showing up to school in pajamas is endemic.

One in particular seems to allow pretty much anything, not even mentioning clothing that “exposes the abdominal areas,” as the other districts do.

All agree on not allowing hats or headwear, except for religious purposes.

Other than those restrictions mentioned, everything seems to be pretty fair game.

Unless, of course, you’re wearing items that are “vulgar, obscene, libelous or denigrate others on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability.”

Oh, and you can’t promote “the use of alcohol, tobacco, electronic and/or vapor cigarettes, illegal drugs and/or encourage other illegal or violent activities.”

So you could wear pajamas, so long as there aren’t pills or cigarettes printed on them.

The pandemic closures hurting childhood academic development has remained in the news since the schools fully opened, and even more so as of late.

There’s no doubt the kids lost a lot. Let’s not pile on by taking away their sense of pride.

Photo by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

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