What Not to Wear, Fiona Edition

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October 2, 2012 by Julia

The good news is Fiona will finally dress herself in the morning without my help. The other good news is that she has accepted pants again, after a year of only dresses.

The bad news is, she is not open to suggestions about what to wear. It’s not cute, people. You know how some moms strive for an “adorably mismatched” look on their daughters? Tutus, rain boots, pigtails, polka dots and stripes in the exact same color scheme? This is not that.

This is more like, “Her mom didn’t think it wise to intervene?” mismatched. If we didn’t manage to get her impossibly long hair brushed, people would assume she was homeless. This morning I came downstairs after Dennis had gotten up with the kids, and said to her, “Okay, let’s go get dressed for school!” and she responded, “But I am dressed!” and Dennis and I cracked up. I honestly thought she was wearing pajamas.

Her outfit consisted of ballet-slipper socks, ¾ length rainbow striped leggings, and a dark gray and blue floral print thermal shirt, long-sleeved.

Against my better judgment, I tried to convince her to change. “You can choose the leggings or the shirt – just not both together, okay?”

She declared, “Mommy, it doesn’t matter if things match!”

An aside: we have lots of discussion these days about what matters. As in, “How much does it matter if I wash my hands after I go potty?” or “How much does it matter if I don’t feel like saying sorry?” (Answer to that one: a lot.)

Sometimes when we disagree* about something, I need to stop and re-evaluate what I am trying to accomplish with our debate**. I knew the other 4-year-olds at her preschool wouldn’t care about what she was wearing. I knew she wouldn’t freeze or be too hot. There was no social or physical discomfort that I had to protect her from – one could say that you shouldn’t always protect your child from such natural consequences of their actions, anyway – and obviously nothing about her chosen outfit would hurt anyone else.

My motivation in trying to change her mind was superficial and centered around the image I’d prefer to project as a mom. The only thing she’d hurt was my vanity. The worst-case scenario was that someone I didn’t know would think Fiona looked weird, and would thereby judge me. I wasn’t worried about what my actual friends might think.

So I had to stop and ask, “How much does it matter if other parents judge me based on how my daughter is dressed?” The answer is: not much.

What matters is that Fiona understands I value her opinion more than the opinions of strangers. What matters is that she feel confident in her own style, in her own ability to pick what she wants, as far as she able to without running into an appropriate boundary we’ve put in place. (Such as, trying to wear a swimsuit to school in the dead of winter.)

And anything truly hideous or ill fitting, I can sneak out of her dresser when she’s not looking.

*have screaming matches

**battle of the wills


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