When I was a girl growing up I loved wearing pretty dresses and playing with my dolls. I can’t deny, when I discovered I was having girls I did get a little bit excited about dressing them up in nice clothes and making them look cute.
For the first few months of their lives we received lots of adorable outfits for them. But in truth, with a newborn, most of these outfits were impractical. By the time my second daughter arrived she spent the majority of her first 12 months dressed in comfy, easy for nappy access, onesies. When they do actually get to the age where they look cute wearing fancy outfits and aren’t having regular poo explosions, they begin crawling – so dresses and things that don’t protect their knees just become a hindrance.
When they started to walk (both girls around 12 months), I began to dress them more in little outfits and dresses. Well that didn’t last long. Initially they were quite amenable, lulling me into a false sense of security as they appeared to do everything I asked of them – even smiling and giggling as they did so. But all of a sudden, as though a switch had been flicked – they changed.
“I want to do it”, “I want to choose it” and “Go away Mummy” became the standard phrases.
I heard that empowering them with choices was a good way to get them on side. That by letting them take control of the small stuff meant that when there are bigger decisions to be made they would be more likely to do what you needed them to. Well the jury is still out on that one but I decided that letting them pick their own clothes and dress themselves was certainly one way
I could help them feel empowered – there are bigger battles to fight than what they wear.
And that’s all well and good except….
My 3 year old generally dresses herself with her clothes back to front or inside out. That’s ok, we can live with that and quite frankly who am I to rain on her parade? When she runs over to me beaming ‘look mummy, I did it all by myself” I haven’t the heart to tell her it’s inside out. But the problem at the moment is her absolute insistence on wearing clothes that are now far too small for her and actually have been ear marked for her younger sister. Quite often, I kiss her goodbye at kindy, with her trouser legs up around her knees (hoping people will think they were designed that way), her socks pulled up (she likes them like that), her t-shirt inside out – always in pink (which I actually can’t stand) and her curly hair semi dreaded (we don’t get allowed near it very often) and look at the other children all with their immaculately combed hair, dressed in clothes that fit and look a little more co-ordinated and I wonder – how do they do it?
On the one hand I genuinely don’t care what she wears as long as she is happy. However I do sometimes feel the need to explain to people that she does actually have a wardrobe full of perfectly good, well-fitting clothes at home.
My 2 year old insists on dressing herself too. As you can imagine it can sometimes take a very long time to get any results. More often than not limbs are not placed through the holes for which the holes were initially designed. Usually she admits defeat at some point as she attempts to stand up with a t-shirt around her ankles or a pair of knickers on her arm. At this point she allows me to help her and finally – she’s dressed.
Having spent years at high school rolling my skirt over so it was short enough and seeing my dad’s eyes glaze over as I left the house in my white platforms and lycra mini-skirt baring my midriff – I am fully aware that them ‘dressing not exactly as I would have chosen malarkey’ is only the start of things to come.