Monday, September 22, 2008

Does this Sweater Go With My Dora Panties?

When my sister's kids were visiting this summer, I discovered just how easy going I am. My 13 year old niece had a suitcase full of perfectly coordinated outfits. They were all purchased from the same pre-teen fashion store and looked as if they had been taken directly off the mannequins in the window. This is NOT how I grew up and I was taken aback by my sister's willingness to fund this kind of excess. I mean the kid had 7 different colored tank tops with 7 matching pairs of bermuda shorts. When I was 13, all of my summer clothes were cut-off school clothes.

As it turns out, Breanna's taste in expensive clothes is only part of the story. While getting ready to leave one afternoon, Bre asked me sincerely if her clothes had to match. After a little digging, I found out that my sister exerts a fanatical amount of control over her daughter's wardrobe. My brother-in-law does not permit Bre to cut her hair and she is constantly being nagged at to brush the hair that she would rather cut short. This is in direct opposition to my parenting style. It felt like a punch in the gut to know that my sweet, beautiful niece is being subjected to this kind of pointless tyranny. I immediately offered to get her a haircut and to take the heat for it. Bre demurred, fearing that her parents would get into a fight over it. So, I took her thrifting instead and let her spend her own money on whatever she wanted. Let's just say, her brainwashing has been thorough and her purchases were barely recognizable as second hand. The whole experience made me realize that I not only tolerate my child's taste in clothing and accessories, but I also encourage her to wear strange things sometimes. I have allowed her to wear a fairy costume to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. In the winter when she wants to keep wearing her summer dresses, I layer pajamas under them. I draw the line at dirty and/or torn clothing and I try to make sure that all of Violet's clothes fit properly, but that's about it. Aaron tried and failed to implement a playground uniform of long blue jeans (to prevent scrapes) and now let's Violet do who own thing. We add socks and panties and tights when necessary. I guess if I bought all of Violet's clothes new and they all had matching pieces, I might be inclined to direct her more. When someone gives us a gift of clothing, I do make sure that it gets worn properly (for show) at least once, but I just think that's polite.

Life is so much more interesting and fun when I get to walk around with this kid, instead of a Baby Gap model.

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