After all these years of parenting and teaching, I'm pretty adept at predicting the behavior of adolescents. The basic rule is this: if one deviates from the pack in appearance or behavior, he or she will be teased. Sometimes mildly and in fun and sometimes more determinedly and with true malice. I've seen it happen at work. I've seen it happen at home.
Yesterday the music teacher at our local elementary school suggested that her students dress nicely for their trip to the symphony today. I laid out khaki pants and a polo shirt for my boy, but he came walking down the stairs looking like this.
I worried about the reactions of the boys in his class who have bullied him a bit this year. Apparently he was a little worried, too, and he decided if the teasing got too bad he would just leave the jacket, tie, and vest in his backpack.
At the carpool stop, our passenger walked up to the car, looked at my son through the window and smirked. My boy put his head down and reiterated that he would probably take the jacket off right away. Then the other student got in the car and said,
"Dude, why didn't you tell me you were wearing a suit?! I wanted to wear mine but was scared to."
My boy walked into school afterward looking a lot taller and smiling like the self-actualized young man he already is.