The perfectly-attired child

Addison at age 3, letting Mommy have her way for family pictures on the beach.

My four year old daughter departed for preschool this morning in an outfit of her own design: a pale pink skort, a short-sleeved grey t-shirt emblazoned in hot pink with the words, “Daddy’s girl,” white ankle socks and beat up brown tennis shoes.  “Not bad,” I thought.  Ah, how times change.

Prior to having children of my own, I assessed many cape-, tutu- and tiara-clad toddlers in malls and movie theaters.  And while I appreciated that their mothers afforded them a semblance of autonomy and the opportunity to creatively express their individuality, I determined that my own children would venture into the world suitably attired in comfortable, yet stylish outfits that provided me with the flexibility to confidently move them from preschool to a dinner out or an extended family function. Ha.  Ha-ha-HA.

The operative phrase here is, “prior to having children of my own.”  This is a critically important series of words that denote early onset of what I like to refer to as Delusions of Grandeur.  We’ve all been that person.  The one quietly wondering what kind of mother lets their kid go out in Spiderman pajamas and duck slippers.  Incredulous that a grown woman can’t get a grip on a two year old throwing a full-on tantrum in the cereal aisle or remember to carry one of those little travel packs of tissue for the five year old with the face full of green snot.  “It’s ridiculous, rude and gross,” we thought.  “A rational adult should be able to handle that situation.  That’s what being a parent is all about.”  We were smug with the certainty that when our time came, we would manage in an all together more efficent and effective manner. 

Yes, before kids, it’s easy to judge.  To see the clear and obvious path to the perfect solution. To concoct cute fantasies in our heads before we are actually face-to-face with a small, but freakishly defiant person determined to be Cuckoo for Coco-Puffs or venture out to meet the world attired in their best, pretty-pretty princess dress and black flowered cowgirl boots. 

My own children, ages 8 and 4, have done much to help banish my delusions as they soldier on in their quest to break me like a wild, but clearly misguided, mother mare.  Under their unfailing tutelage, I am learning to pick my battles.  A case in point from last summer:  It is early morning.  I am standing next to my own bed, where my daughter lounges, waiting for me to help her get ready to face the day.  I am holding one of the aforementioned comfortable, yet stylish outfits up for approval.

“I don’t want that shirt.  No one will like it,” she says.
“But it’s cute,” I insist.  “It matches your pants perfectly.  See?  It’s got pink on it.” 

Pink is very important these days.

“No, no, no.  Go pick another,” intones my little Lindsay Lohan protege.
“OK, well why don’t you go pick another?” I suggest.
“No, you can do it.”

I sigh and pick up the shirt, along with her PJs and night-time pull-up.  Not wanting to instigate a full blown tantrum at 7:30 AM, I shuffle back to her closet and select two shirts, thinking naively that providing options will enable me to gain commitment on two garments I obviously know are not on the list of Top 10 favorites.  But I’m trying to get some mileage out of all these clothes before she outgrows them so I  give it a shot.  This is my first, but not last mistake of the day.  As I hold them both up, I say,

“Here.  Which one would you like?  They are so cute.  One has a poodle on it and the other one has a kitty.”

My son, bless him, tries hard to back me up. 

“Yeah, Addison. They are really cute.  See?  You can pick a cute doggie or a little kitty.  And they both have pink.” 

She turns from the TV and places her hand thoughtfully on her chin.  After three seconds, she screws up her face and with a wave of her hand says, “No.  People will think these look silly.  Take them away.”

Unwilling to believe my four year old has just waived me off like Paris Hilton’s top stylist, I dumbly reply, “What?”

“They won’t work.  I SAID, take them away.” 

As I take her hand to lead her back to the closet to make her own selection, I wonder for the three thousandth time how I ever thought this parenting thing might be easy or even remotely straightforward.  In my head, I apologize to all those mothers I so glibly judged. And as I survey her final look, I consider it a victory that she more or less matches. After all, at what other time in your life can you rock hot pink short-shorts, frilly socks, patent leather dress shoes and a green seahorse tank top and still look pretty cute?  If she likes it, who am I to derail her inner fashion diva? 

Go ahead, work it girl.  I’ll find bigger, more important battles to fight.

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One Response

  1. LMFAO. I keep hoping that Luke will let me help him with styling suggestions as I am fully prepared to pony up the dough for Journey’s skater shoes and a full-on cool kid wardrobe…at least until the age where that might mean $100.00 jeans — then he’s on his own. Unfortunately, he may not think Mommy’s idea of cool (the whole surfer/skater kid look) is that great. He may grow up to favor bow-ties and pleated khakis. Who knows? But until he can speak for himself, he’s at my mercy and that means Johnny Cash onesies and camo shorts. There are only a few short years before left before he might start waving me off too. 😉

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