How do you teach your children the fine art of matching their clothes when they are getting themselves dressed? Not just matching colors, but matching fabrics, textures, styles, and SEASONS, for heaven's sake! I haven't yet figured out how to do it without offending my children. The child development experts would probably advise that I let my children wear whatever they want - within reason - and develop their own style. The problem is that many of the young'uns in these parts choose clothing that doesn't fit the "within reason" guideline.
Scenario #1: The strong-willed, spoiled 5-year-old boy was wearing a long-sleeved casual striped shirt with casual, lightweight pants that have elastic around the ankles. He chose ankle socks, which were fine, since he had that sporty look going. And then he chose black. dress. shoes. I stood there and pondered whether this was a fight I wanted to engage, because my little man is tough when he wants something done his way, which is pretty much 105% percent of the time. So I appealed to my husband to try to talk some sense into him. The hubby said, "Oh, he's fine. Don't worry about it." This, from the man who also wears white athletic socks with black dress shoes. Why did I even bother?
And here's the thing: I know that probably just about everyone who has children, has ever had children, has ever known children, or has ever come into the general vicinity of children, will know that when children start dressing themselves and choosing their own clothing, it's never pretty.
But I couldn't let it go. My son looked like a dork. The entire time we were out, I was trying to read people's faces. What were they thinking about me, the mom who let her kid go out looking like a buffoon? That I'm so self-absorbed that I didn't even notice what he was wearing? That I'm a total slacker mom who would let her kid wear a Spongebob Squarepants costume, complete with talking Patrick sidekick doll, to a wedding, if the mood struck him? Or were they just feeling sorry for us because we're obviously so poor that we can only afford one pair of shoes for our son?
Scenario #2: There was a certain daughter who wanted to wear a casual, fall-print corduroy skirt with a white satin blouse and casual white socks (with a colored stripe around the top) with her dress shoes. . . .all in the same outfit.
Scenario #3: Another daughter who wanted to wear (and did wear) a pair of shoes - that was at least 4 sizes too big for her, although she contended that they were just her size - into several shopping venues, much to her mother's embarrassment.
Scenario #4: You won't believe this one. One kid wanted to wear her Easter dress for Christmas! Oh, the horror!
Am I an overly controlling mother whose children will end up in therapy because I pushed them too hard to conform to my own freakish standards? Or will they end up in therapy anyway because their friends ridiculed them for their bizarre apparel choices?
Or am I just overreacting?
Parenting is hard.