Every day is a battle in our house. If it isn't what we will be having for breakfast, it is 100 possible anythings to argue over. Today marks the battle of getting my 5 year old dressed. Let me start by saying that I am a pretty laid back mom when it comes to dressing my kids, my daughter more so that my son. Maybe it's because she has a better fashion sense than he does, or maybe it's because boys clothes are so limited. Either way, I tend to pick out his clothes and let her choose her own.
In my defense, my son would wear an outfit, sleep in it and wear it again the next day if I did not interject. This is a child who would wear the same socks every single day as long as he didn't have to take them off. When he does take them off, they usually lay on the floor until mom finally comes in to throw them in the hamper and/or freaks the hell out until he picks them up himself. He would be happy with a drawer of sweat pants and Pittsburgh sports shirts. He wears black dress socks with anything. He cannot tell me if he wore the shirt that he wants to wear today, earlier this week. For him, clothes are simply a way to not be naked. (Blankets and robes will do the trick too.)
Now, my little chica, she can be a pistol. I'm not sure when this, "I can do it myself phase started". Yes, as a toddler, that line was used pretty often but she always let me pick out her clothes. All of a sudden, she's almost 4 and decides, "I will pick out my own outfit!". Once in preschool and making friends, she began wearing what she wanted and I'm fine with that...most of the time.
Just so I can be involved, I'll go in in the morning and ask her what bottoms she wants to wear and try to give suggestion on a top based on that. She either agrees or disagrees and will chose what she wants. Socks and shoes are her choice. And sometimes, those socks and shoes really make the outfit. This child loves boots. She loves boots so much that we went through a naked boot phase. Yes, we were potty training but that child would walk around in nothing but her boots. Brown boots, black boots, cowboy books, rain boots, and I loved every minute of it!
My husband is a totally different story and she gives him no crap. HE will simply look at her out fit, say, "No. Here, wear this." He will lay out everything down to her little Hello Kitty undies and she says nothing. When both my husband and I are there in the morning, I let her get dressed and giggle to myself when he sees what she has on.
My thoughts; she is only going to be 3 once. And 4 once. And 5 once. And so forth. If her picking out a hideous outfit is the worst thing that she does, I will be happy. But it's more that that. When she started school, I thought that when her friends commented on her clothing, she may want mommy's help a little more. NOT AT ALL. Here is what I have learned from my daughter.
#1. It doesn't matter what you wear as long as it is appropriate for the setting. We don't let her wear a bathing suit to school or sweat pants to a holiday function. I actually enjoy that she likes to try clothes on so for holidays we go to the store together and pick out some outfits and play dress up! Fun Mommy and Chica time!
#2 It doesn't matter what your friends say. If they don't like you because of your clothes, you don't need them as friends. I actually felt horrible for wanting another 5 year old to comment on her outfit hoping that would make her want me to help. How selfish of me! I remember sitting in her room angry that she refused to wear her heart shirt with her pink, red and silver skirt. She pulled out something completely different and I made the comment that the kids in her class would be wearing their holiday outfits. She said something that made me so proud. "Mommy, I don't care what the other kids wear." I actually cried. If she doesn't care what other kids think of her clothes, that must mean that she doesn't care what other kids are wearing either. I can only hope that that thought process sticks with her throughout her schooling. Sometimes, girls can be cruel.
#3 Choosing your own clothes is one of your only ways to express yourself as a child. Think about it. When someone buys you a present, something that is totally not you, that sweater, those pants, that color! What do you do? You smile politely, say thank you and take it back. Or maybe you keep it. You hang onto it and only wear it in the presence of the buyer. Either way, you don't wear it! It isn't you. Maybe it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe the color clashes with your skin tone. Maybe it is just hideous! You know what it feels like to wear something you don't like. Why make your kids feel that way?
Maybe this is my fault. I am EXTREMELY low maintenance. Name brands do nothing for me. I don't wear a lot of jewelry. I will spend an hour doing my hair and in less time that it took to fix it, i will have it in a ponytail. I'm a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl (if I'm not wearing workout clothes) and usually the t-shirt is one I earned running. Yes, every once in a while I get dressed up and I am fine with that. I enjoy it. Fashion isn't my thing and I'm OK with that. Even better, my husband is OK with is too.
Here it is in a nutshell. It doesn't matter what I like, or Daddy likes, or Grandma or Nunnie (Come on. Pappies don't think twice about what these munchkins put on) What matters is what my daughter likes. Maybe that hand me down t-shirt of her brother's and those ripped jeans with stripped socks pulled up so high, you can see the stripes through the rips, make her feel adventurous. Maybe that plaid skirt, black shirt, blue leather jacket and baseball hat make her feel courageous and brave. Or that one dress that she loves to wear, maybe that makes her feel pretty. I want to make sure that my daughter can express all of those feelings. If her outfits give her strength, you know just like all of those superheroes out there (Iron Man's suit, Superman's digs, Cyclopes' glasses, etc, etc), then I am proud to have her wear what she wants.
As her mother, I will keep making suggestions. I feel that I know her and her style pretty well. I will pick something up and surprise her and with me, she is not afraid of the truth. Every once in a while I get a, "Hey mumma, that is so ugly, I can't wear that." I smile and put it in the return pile but mostly, I take her with me for clothes and don't try to push the things that I know she doesn't like on her. I love that kid so much. She's kind, and good, and loves animals and nature and I'd like her to represent herself; show her independence. Do I always agree? No. and that's OK.