My youngest woke up extra early this morning to prepare for yet another “Spirit Day” at her school. 80’s Day was a hit. They did Team Sports Day a few week back and, of course, Pajama and Crazy Hair Day are always favorites of any kid. Today, however, was a little more vague in its description.
“Dad, it’s ‘Freaky Friday’ today… help me figure out what to wear,” she says digging through her dresser.
“‘Freaky Friday’?” I started with a little too much excitement, “Do you dress like Lindsey Lohan? Smeared makeup? Powder on the nose? Wrecked Beemer? Bad plastic surgery?”
“Are you going to help me or not?” she bit back showing no appreciation for a well-placed Lohan shot.
The description was simple… almost too simple. They could just be as wacky as they wanted to be as long as they didn’t wear hats and they must keep their shoes ‘unfreaky’. Seemed like a strange combination of restrictions, but I wasn’t going to complain about the blank palette.
We tried a number of different versions before finally settling on a pair of shorts covered with individual rows of colorful duct tape on each leg, high unmatched socks, a backwards grey “Maryland CrabFest” T-Shirt, a purple men’s necktie knotted loosely ala Rodney Dangerfield and a giant ‘F’ (for freaky) duct taped in teal to the front of her shirt. Not sure what it was, but I knew it didn’t matter because she was excited.
As we drove down the street towards the school, I felt like it was a good time to have a little fun. I mean, I’m THAT Dad, so it’s always time for a little good-natured ribbing.
“Oh no, CJ! I just realized…. it’s Thursday not Friday!”
Her face went white, her jaw dropped and a panic set in immediately.
“What!!?!?!?! Wait. I can’t go dressed like this! If it’s Thursday I’ll look like…well… a freak!”
She was eyeing herself up and down and dancing in her seat. I love a good prank and, believe me, they give it as often as they receive it, but this wasn’t the reaction I was looking for.
“I’m kidding, Bear. It’s Friday.”
The relief on her face was immediate, but she wasn’t ready to completely believe my confession without proof and requested my phone to check the date. We continued up the road and as the other students started to come into view, it was apparent very few were participating in ‘Freaky Friday’. In fact, there were no kids lining up at the doorways that appeared any freakier than normal.
“You sure it’s today?” I asked and was immediately assured that it was. “Bear, I don’t see a lot of kids in freaky gear. Do you want me to pull into the parking lot and you can pull off your duct tape and stuff? You don’t want to be the only one that dressed up, do you?”
After her reaction to my joke, I was already plotting my course to the parking lot expecting her to go for the quick change. I was actually starting to panic a little. I was putting myself in her “un-freaky” shoes. You know, I still remember the power of your peers in school. One wrong move. One wrong outfit. That stuck with you for years. I’d had nightmares about showing up to school in the wrong things. Heck, I get anxiety today if I show up somewhere over or under dressed. I didn’t want to send her off the school as the only one decked out in her freakiest attire.
“No. I’m good. It’s ‘Freaky Friday’ and I wanted to dress up. Even if no one else does it, I’m still happy that I did. They can be boring…. I’ll be freaky.”
Not the reaction I was expecting.
Those Freaky Friday movies that were a completely lost reference on my kid were about a Parent and a Kid switching souls. While it was loaded with bad slapstick humor and over the top gags, in the end it’s a message about the crazy notion that just because someone is your kid or your parent, that you’re going to be exactly the same. That you’re going to understand exactly how they tick. In the 2003 Lohan version, the fortune cookie that is central to the plot reads in part “What you see is what you lack…”
That’s what I saw today.
Now that’s freaky.