A few years ago, when my daughter was in kindergarten I picked her up from school. Now, I have picked her up everyday after school for seven years, but on this particular day, I was horrified when I saw my little girl. As she ran towards me, arms open wide, yelling, “MOMMA!!!!” I wanted to throw a blanket over her and shove her into the car before anyone knew she was mine.
Why? Because she was wearing…are you sitting down? Deep breath…wait for it….purple corduroys(it was late August and hot enough to melt steel) that were two inches too short, an orange shirt that had some sort of bleach stain on it, and red crocs. Yes. crocs.
I had just started working a job that required me to be at work waaaaaaaaaaay before anyone else in the house woke up, so I depended on my baby daddy to pick up the slack in getting our one and only offspring ready for school. Sadly, the fashion nightmare I encountered that afternoon was only a prelude to the next six years.
Uniforms are required at the school she now attends, which has certainly helped to ameliorate the fashion crisis…but every so often I’m caught off guard by cowboy boots with sweat pant capris or a flannel skirt and a tank top. Many times she dons a red bandanna, Axl Rose style, with her jeans and a t shirt, ready for a little slang and hustle downtown, I suppose.
Last night, my beautiful and successful sister and law, who is always on her fashion game, came in for a visit. In tow were her two equally gorgeous well dressed children. I had just gotten off of work and met up with them, my husband and parents in law(with whom Brian had relinquished care earlier that morning). Kate, wearing white sweatpant capris, a way too small white tee shirt I hadn’t seen for two years over a blue polka dot bra, and filthy flip flops couldn’t have looked more white trash in her monochromatic dingy white outfit. At least it looked like she may have brushed her hair. Maybe. I gave her a big ole hug and kiss, pretending to be oblivious to her outfit, cringing on the inside.
I hugged my husband, hissing in his ear, “Why is she wearing that?!”
Sigh…only I know she has cute clothes and adorable shoes for every occasion in her closet. She and her father certainly don’t know, nor did anyone else in the room.
Ok, I know what ya’ll are thinkin’…she’s smart, pretty and such a joy to be around…who cares what she has on. Really, Mary, aren’t you bein’ just a teensy, weensy bit…shallow?
Yep. You betcha.
But all you hard workin’ mommas know, deep down, those shoes better match that outfit. And never, ever would one of ya let that child out of the house in yellow pants and a red tank top. We all search the malls and outlet stores (yes, even I darken the threshold of the mall a couple times a year) with frenzied, half demented zeal, looking for fabulous clothes to dress our mini-me’s.
Before I give the impression that I have completely quelched Kate’s creativity and individuality, let me defend myself. I am the mom who let my daughter wear ten strands of Mardi Gras beads and a pink flouncy skirt to the grocery. Purple plastic dress up heels and a barbie laptop computer completed the outfit. I am the mom who turned a blind eye for two years when she wore a red velvet flapper girl style hat that my sister had given her. True, I finally threw it away one night after she went to bed and then swore I “hadn’t seen it,” but still…. This is the same child who from ages two to four wore a pair of red tights( I don’t know where or why I thought she ever needed them) and a pink halter(again, what was I thinking?) around the house in absolute defiance of wearing pants.
So throughout the years, my fashion kvetching has usually fallen on deaf ears. But I try…I have a family reunion this weekend. Perhaps I can distract her enough to hide, throwaway or donate that pair of white dingy capris she’s grown so fond of….
©Mary Flanagan Taylor, July 8, 2010