This morning my 5 yr old daughter came down for breakfast all dressed for school. She was wearing a neon pink skirt, an orange t-shirt (with a picture of a hippopotamus on it), neon yellow socks, and teal tennis shoes. I looked her over and paused. Umm. Yeah. Ok. I hesitated. My general policy is if the clothes aren’t torn, ripped, stained, or just immodest, I don’t say anything. I’m generally just pleased if my children can dress themselves without having to involve me in the process. With my teenagers, I definitely keep my mouth shut, but with the little ones, I still, every once in a while try to intervene.
“Sweetie, that shirt doesn’t match that skirt.”
She looked down in surprise. “Yes it does! They’re both orange!”
“Uh no, actually that skirt would be described as more of a neon pink.”
She stared at her clothing for a minute.
“Oh well, I like it anyway.”
“How about a different skirt?”
“I don’t have any other skirts, this is the only one.”
I thought about it for minute. It was possible this was true. My daughter decided some time this summer that she only wanted to wear skirts. No pants. No shorts. Skirts. With an occasional dress thrown in. Unfortunately, my daughter failed to inform me of this when I was picking out her clothes in the spring and so she has a collection of blue jeans and shorts that sit, unworn, in her drawer. When she wails that she has nothing clean to wear, she doesn’t mean that there aren’t any clean clothes in her drawer. What she means is there are no skirts and dresses left to wear. Of course, this doesn’t stop shorts and pants from regularly appearing in the laundry as my daughter also has a habit of letting clothes fall out of her drawers, onto the floor, and then, when she cleans her room, she puts them straight into the laundry basket. All that to say, she only owns a couple skirts.
I stared at her a minute then told her to eat her breakfast while I went and checked on something. I served up her oatmeal and then ran up the stairs to her bedroom. I dug around in her drawers and, Hurray! I found a nice tan skirt that would match her orange t-shirt (with the hippopotamus) just fine. I grabbed it and ran downstairs.
“Look! I found a skirt that will match, you can change after breakfast!”
“I don’t want to change. I like my outfit. I like THIS skirt.”
“I have a white t-shirt that would match the skirt better. Do you want to change your shirt instead?”
“I like THIS shirt and THIS skirt!”
Decision time. Do I make this a discipline issue where I now insist that she change? Do I endure tears and hurt feelings and send the 5 year old off to school in a really horrible mood? Or do I just let her wear the neon pink skirt? “Pick your Battles.” This parenting advice often runs through my head. Perhaps the Holy Spirit trying to give me advice? I decide to just drop it. Sure, all the teachers are going to think I’m a delinquent parent who doesn’t care about her child enough to dress her nicely. Sure, maybe the other students will tease her about her clothing choices, though probably not, since they’re all 5 year olds and at that age I think they are all color-blind.
No. This is definitely not a battle worth fighting.
We’re heading out the door to the car and the 5 yr old suddenly decides that she is cold and needs a sweater. (It is 70 degrees and muggy). I don’t have any sweaters for her. It’s still, technically, summer. It’s Tennessee. It’s hot. We are running late and now I’m just trying to get everyone out the door. I look on the coat rack by the door and find her little brother’s sweater. It’s gray and covered in pictures of motorcycles. I grab the sweater and throw it at her.
“Here! Put this on!”
Now my daughter is wearing an orange t-shirt (with hippopotamus), neon pink skirt, neon yellow socks (I didn’t even try to address the socks) and teal tennis shoes, with a motorcycle embossed sweater. And I dropped her off at school and told her to have a good day.
Part of being a parent is just holding your head high and refusing to be embarrassed about your children’s quirks.
(Okay, maybe I’m just a little embarrassed.)